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Barbour would ‘hold my nose’ and raise taxes to get fiscal deal

“I, as a Republican, I would take raising the rates on the two top brackets if, in return, we had tax reform laid out over a period of months, if we had entitlement reform,” Barbour said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” 

Barbour said that while he didn’t like the idea of higher taxes, Republicans should look at what they could gain.

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“Look, we've got to control defense spending, we've got to control the other discretionary non-defense spending. So I think if you have the whole package, I would hold my nose despite the facts that raising those two brackets are bad economics, are bad for jobs, are going to hurt the economy,” he said. “I would hold my nose to get the other done. What I wouldn’t do is vote for that and do nothing else.”

While GOP leaders have rejected the president’s push to allow tax rates on the top 2 percent of earners to rise in a deficit-reduction deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” a number of Republican lawmakers have signaled they could accept higher rates to gain spending cuts. 

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Sunday said that the president’s plan to only extend the expiring Bush-era rates for the middle class could be the “best route” to compel Democrats to put entitlements on the table.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last week presented a package that includes $800 billion in new tax revenues from closing loopholes and eliminating deductions. Republicans, though, want to maintain current tax rates across the board, but the White House insists it won’t sign on to any deal that doesn’t raise rates on the wealthy.

Barbour said that shifting on taxes would force the president to get serious about the spending side of the fiscal equation.

“The problems are on the spending side, but publicly, at least, the president doesn’t want to do anything about spending,” Barbour charged.

Barbour also reflected on the recent election, saying that while GOP nominee Mitt Romney did more right than wrong, his failure to respond to President Obama’s tough attacks cost him the race.

Barbour said the election showed that “negative campaigns still worked and that one of the first rules of politics still holds: Any attack unanswered is an attack admitted.

“At the end of the day, he didn’t run on his record, he didn’t even try to run on his record,” said Barbour of Obama.