The Washington Times - July 17, 2012, 10:29AM

Senate Democrats say they are willing to let George W. Bush-era tax cuts expire for all Americans if Republicans refuse to allow taxes to rise for the nation’s highest earners.

During an interview Tuesday morning on CNN’s “Starting Point,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin said Democrats are prepared to go down to the wire in pursuit of President Obama’s goal to extend the cuts only for those people  making less than $250,000, and they aren’t ruling out the notion that the debate could last beyond Jan. 1, the day the cuts are slated to expire.

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His comments came one day after Sen. Patricia Murray, Washington Democrat, said her party could let the cuts expire if Republicans refuse to back off their preferred approach of extending the cuts across the board for all wage brackets.

“I’m not going to take [expiration] off the table,” said Mr. Durbin, Illinois Democrat. “We’re going to face this once and for all in an honest and bipartisan way.

Republicans thus far have bristled as the prospect of compromise, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, chastised Democrats on Monday for engaging in a “high-stakes game of chicken.”

Many analysts say a full expiration of the tax cuts could send the country back into a recession. Both parties are likely to frame the debate as the other side holding taxpayers hostage in pursuit of its goal.