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The Hill
GOP, Dem lawmakers see room for compromise ahead of fiscal talks
By Alicia M. Cohn

As they return to Washington this week, lawmakers from both parties are talking compromise to avoid the impending “fiscal cliff,” showing a willingness to put once inviolable positions on the negotiating table. 

More senior Republicans distanced themselves from conservative activist Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge this weekend in an apparent effort to signal their willingness to broker a deficit-reduction plan and move past the expiring tax rates and automatic spending cuts set to take effect next year. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has indicated in the past that he and Norquist might not see eye to eye on new revenues, became the latest GOP lawmaker to loudly break from the pledge. 

Graham said on Sunday that he is willing to “violate” the pledge to secure a deficit deal “for the good of the country.” 

"I am willing to generate revenue," Graham said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."  But the South Carolina senator cautioned: "I will not raise tax rates to do it; I will cap deductions." 

Cutting deductions without a dollar-for-dollar match in lower tax rates goes against the strict pledge, because it would raise the effective tax paid by some groups. 

Efforts to reach a deficit deal during 2011’s debate over raising the debt-ceiling limit were blocked after senior Republicans balked at measures to raise new revenues, demanding spending cuts and entitlement reform instead. 

But since the election, some Republicans, particularly in the Senate, have said they are willing to consider new revenue measures without raising tax rates. 

Graham’s statement was praised by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who suggested his party would meet the GOP by putting some of the spending programs it is most inclined to protect on the table in the upcoming negotiations. 

"Let me salute Lindsey Graham," said Durbin, the No. 2-ranking Democrat in the Senate, also on ABC. “What he just said about revenue and taxes needed to be said on his side of the aisle.” 

Durbin said Democrats would need to head to negotiations with the same level of openness. “We need to be honest on our side of the aisle, and as we did under Bowles-Simpson, put everything on the table," said the Illinois senator. 

The year-end deadline, when the George W. Bush-era tax rates expire and automatic cuts to mandatory spending take effect, is only the latest in a series of economic deadlines that sparked deficit negotiations in Congress. 

Democrats, though, believe Republicans have less leverage now that the election is over and the GOP failed to capture the White House and Senate. President Obama and congressional Democrats have insisted that any deficit deal include higher taxes on the wealthy, by allowing the Bush-era rates to expire for those families making over $250,000 a year… 

Read the rest of the article at The Hill

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