Sen. Durbin: 'Fiscal cliff' tax hikes 'not off the table'

"What I'm saying today is that I'm not going to take that off the table," Durbin said when asked if lawmakers might allow all of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts to expire.

"We're going to face this once and for all in an honest, bipartisan way. We're going to solve the problems facing this country. Those who want to pick and choose 'Oh, let's take this off the table, let's take that off the table' — no."

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a member of leadership, said Monday that her party is willing to let a number of automatic spending cuts and tax increases — which economists have dubbed the impending “fiscal cliff” — take effect if Republicans continue to insist on extending lower tax rates for annual incomes above $250,000.

The Bush-era rates are set to expire on Jan. 1. President Obama has proposed an one-year extension for those who make $250,000 or less. Republicans want all the Bush rates to be extended permanently, a move Obama has vowed to veto.

Durbin echoed Murray's stance, which caught heat from GOP leaders House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who said on Monday that Senate Democrats want to keep taxes in check for the middle class but that to "face this honestly and responsibly," spending cuts will have to come into play.

"Let's just start with this premise: A majority of the Senate, and that would be virtually all of the Democratic senators — the majority — are prepared to vote today to protect middle-income families from any tax increase," Durbin said Tuesday morning on CNN's "Starting Point."

Durbin said the burden was on Republicans to negotiate in good faith.

"If you're asking whether or not we're going to give away this or that before the day of reckoning, I agree with Sen. Murray — we have to face this honestly and responsibly."