Sen. Schumer: Democrats hold 'high ground' in sequestration debate

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Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) predicted Sunday that Republicans would eventually accept Democrats’ combination of closing tax loopholes and spending cuts to replace sequestration.

Schumer characterized the GOP’s plan to offset the across-the-board cuts with other spending cuts and no new revenues as out of step with a majority of voters. The Senate Democratic Policy Committee chairman said Republicans’ preferred path caters to special interests and the wealthy.

“I think that the Democrats have the high ground both substantively and politically, and we will win on this issue. … I believe that just like on the ‘fiscal cliff,’ Republicans will come on board. They have no choice,” Schumer said on CNN’s State of the Union.

But Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) rejected the notion that Republicans would need to accept new tax hikes to replace the $85 billion of cuts slated for March 1.

“These spending cuts are going through on March 1st. The taxes are off the table,” Barrasso said on State of the Union. “The Republican Party is not in any way going to trade spending cuts for tax increases.”

He said a Senate Democratic package released last week had little chance of passing. That plan called for $55 billion in spending cuts and another $55 billion in tax code changes. Of the spending cuts, half would come from the Defense Department, and half from ending direct farm subsidies.

It also would have called for an income tax increase on Americans making at least $1 million per year, which Republicans have resisted.

President Obama also is pushing for a mixture of tax adjustments and spending cuts. He has urged Congress to at least pass a stopgap measure if it cannot reach a deal by March 1.

Barrasso said the likelihood of striking a bargain is low given based on what he has seen and heard from Democrats and the White House.

“There are better ways to do this, but the cuts are going to occur,” Barrasso predicted.