(REUTERS) — Republican unity against raising tax rates for the wealthy began to show cracks on Wednesday after a conservative congressman said he would back an agreement with President Barack Obama to raise rates on the rich but extend tax cuts for income below $250,000.

With Congress scrambling to avert a series of tax increases and spending cuts due to kick in at the end of the year – known as the “fiscal cliff” – Congressman Tom Cole said Republicans should approve a deal ensuring 98 percent of Americans do not suffer a tax increase that endangers the economic recovery.

With the lower tax rates enacted a decade ago under Republican President George W. Bush due to expire on December 31, Obama and his Democrats have pushed to extend the lower rates for most Americans while letting rates rise for wealthier taxpayers.

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