The Washington Times - December 1, 2012, 01:20AM

While the White House and congressional Republicans appear nowhere close to a deal that would avoid the economic double whammy of the expiration of the Bush-era tax rates and deep spending cuts scheduled to begin at the start of next year, a Democratic senator said Saturday that the two parties should get a solution on the tax rate issue before Christmas.

“I really do believe that the majority of the members of the Senate want to get this done, want to get it done now,” Sen. Ben Cardin, Maryland Democrat, said on MSNBC’s “Weekends with Alex Witt.” “They want to give predictability to the 98 percent of taxpayers on their tax rates come January 1st, they want to get these across-the-board sequestration cuts off the table, they want to make a down payment on the debt, and they believe we can get it done, and I can tell you there’s enough common ground to get it done. But the next major step is, let’s give the predictability on the tax side, on rates as of January 1st for the 98 percent of Americans.”


Mr. Obama has insisted that the top marginal rates increase while preserving current rates on the first $250,000 of income as part of a deal. Republican leaders like House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, summarily dismissed Mr. Obama’s opening bid this week of about $1.6 trillion in taxes, $50 billion in stimulus spending in 2013 and a promise for future spending trims.

The GOP says revenue can be raised by closing deductions and loopholes in the tax code while keeping the current rates in place for all income levels. Democrats have countered by essentially telling Republicans to put their money where their mouth is, saying the GOP has offered virtually no specifics on the tax reforms and cuts to entitlements they would like to see as part of a compromise package.

Still, Mr. Cardin seemed optimistic that a deal could be reached that would prevent all of the tax rates from expiring and head off about a trillion dollars’ worth of spending cuts that would begin to take effect next year.

“We could do that — that gives us some additional revenue, it establishes good faith, we can move forward with a blueprint yet this year, avoid the cliff and avoid the automatic cuts,” said Mr. Cardin, a member of the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Budget Committee.

“The sooner we get it done, the better it is for the American economy and for American families,” Mr. Cardin said when asked how long it would take to get a deal finished. “I would hope we could make significant progress this week and next week. We should get it done before Christmas.”