Pelosi: More tax revenues must be part of next deficit deal

Pushing back against the Republicans’ deficit-reduction strategy, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said this weekend that more tax revenues – not just spending cuts – must be a part of Congress’s effort to rein in deficits.

Pelosi said the tax hikes in the recent “fiscal-cliff” deal are a start, but don’t go far enough to generate the revenues the government needs to run the country effectively.

{mosads}”In this legislation we had $620 billion, very significant … changing the high-end tax rate to 39.6 percent. But that is not enough on the revenue side,” Pelosi told CBS’s Bob Schieffer in an interview taped Friday. 

Without offering many specifics, the California Democrat said she wants to scour the tax code for unnecessary loopholes and “unfair” benefits that help those – either companies or individuals – who don’t need it.

“Put it all on the table and see what is working,” she said. “Frankly, I’m fairly agnostic about what it could be. … But, you know, if it works for us, if it grows our economy, if it’s something that justifies its existence, it should be there.”

The remarks are just the latest salvo from Democrats ahead of three major fiscal issues – the debt ceiling, sequestration and funding the government – that Congress must tackle over the next 90 days.

To reduce deficits, President Obama and the Democrats want a balanced package that combines entitlement reform with spending cuts and new tax revenues. Republicans, however, are rejecting the notion that new taxes should be a part of the process. They say the tax hikes included in the just-passed fiscal-cliff bill are plenty. Now they want to focus on cutting spending.

“The tax issue is finished, over, completed. That’s behind us,” McConnell said Sunday in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” program. “Now the question is, what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future? And that’s our spending addiction.”

Many Republicans see the looming debt-ceiling fight as their best chance to win major cuts from the Democrats – a battle President Obama has said he won’t enter and Pelosi warned against on Friday.

“Right now we have to pay the bills that have been incurred,” she said. “And if you want to say cut spending for what we do next, fine. But don’t … tie it to the debt ceiling.”

On entitlements, Pelosi drew a line against raising Medicare’s eligibility age or cutting Social Security benefits. But she left the door open to additional means-testing under Medicare. 

“I think you and I could probably afford to pay a little more for a deductible or a co-pay or something like that,” she told Schieffer.

Pelosi also took a few shots at Republicans, blaming the rightward shift of their party for the partisanship in Washington’s current political environment. She said the GOP is now “dominated by an element that are anti-government ideologues” who are “committed to not cooperating with this president.”

“It didn’t used to be this way,” she said. “I keep saying to my Republican friends, take back your party. This isn’t the Grand Old Party that did so many things for America, that commanded so much respect. We need a strong Republican Party. This is really the over-the-edge crowd. That’s the way I see it.”

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