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Budget talks start off with tax fight

The budget conference committee met for the first time on Wednesday, and its leaders immediately clashed over the old issue of taxes.

Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said Republicans must agree to close “tax loopholes” as part of any deal to replace automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) responded, “if this conference becomes an argument about taxes, we’re not going to get anywhere.”

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Negotiators ended their day by deciding to get together again on Nov. 13, when they will have a month left to reach a deal by a Dec. 13 deadline.

The clash between Ryan and Murray, and the lack of urgency suggested by the decision to not meet until after a congressional recess, could justify outside expectations that the conference committee members are unlikely to reach a deal on their own.

Murray insisted she’s willing to agree to some “tough spending cuts” that, unlike the sequester, which would end in 2022, would be “permanently locked into law.”

But she said a compromise would have to run both ways, meaning Republicans would have to give ground on higher taxes. 

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