Republicans May Trade Tax Rates for Entitlement Cuts, Sessions Says

Photograph by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Glenn Rehn, center, and Sandy Lleo, right, protests outside the office of Sen. Marco Rubio on Dec. 10, 2012 in Doral, Florida.

A lawmaker close to House Speaker John Boehner said congressional Republicans would be willing to accept an increase in tax rates for top earners if Democrats make significant reductions in entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

“If it’s a good deal, yes,” said the incoming House Rules Committee chairman, Pete Sessions of Texas, on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt,” when asked whether he’d accept a trade-off involving tax rates. “If it does something long term that betters the circumstances.”

Sessions said Boehner was committed to reaching a deal to avoid the more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect beginning next month.

“It takes both sides,” Sessions said in the interview airing this weekend. “The president would have to do equally as we do.”

Obama has called for tax rates on household incomes exceeding $250,000 a year to revert as scheduled to those during the administration of President Bill Clinton, who left office with a budget surplus. The top tax rate would rise to 39.6 percent from 35 percent now.

Congressional Republicans, while calling for cuts in entitlement programs, have yet to propose the specific reductions. They have agreed to $800 billion in revenue by curbing unspecified tax breaks while insisting on an extension of all of the Bush-era tax cuts scheduled to expire next month.

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