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Democrats Stress Need for Higher Taxes on Upper-Income Earners in Fiscal Cliff Deal

Two top congressional Democrats said Sunday that higher taxes on upper-income earners are essential to any deal to avert the year-end fiscal cliff but expressed hope that a compromise on new revenue and spending cuts could be found in the coming weeks.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California in separate appearances echoed President Barack Obama’s insistence on raising the rates paid on family income of more than $250,000 and chided congressional Republican vows to block increases in tax rates.

“Just to close loopholes is far too little money,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “If it’s going to bring in revenue, the president has been very clear that the higher-income people have to pay their fair share.”

“What we’re talking about are people making a lot of money, lawyers and investment bankers … who can pay a little more,” Durbin said on CNN’s “State of the Union With Candy Crowley.”

Though Republicans insist they’ll fight efforts to raise tax rates, GOP leaders say they may back revenue increases as part of a package that cuts spending, eliminates tax breaks and uses added revenue to lower the deficit.

House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price of Georgia said talks between congressional leaders and the Obama administration should focus on spending reductions, and he said any tax increases may hurt small businesses.

“Tax increases to chase ever-higher spending is a fool’s errand,” Price said during an appearance with Durbin on CNN. “Now is the time to talk about spending reductions.”

After an hourlong meeting with Obama at the White House on Nov. 16, leaders expect to reconvene the week after Thanksgiving to try to flesh out a plan that could ease concern among the public and financial markets over an impasse.

“What I hear is a perceptible change in rhetoric from the other side. That is the beginning of a negotiation,” Durbin said.

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