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GOP to be blamed for plunging off 'fiscal cliff'

U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

If Republicans don’t go along with calls by President Obama for higher taxes and the nation goes off a “fiscal cliff,” then the GOP is to blame, says a Democratic congressman.

“We face a fiscal cliff,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., on CNN. “They (Republicans) face a very important question on this fiscal cliff. Are they going to drive off the fiscal cliff with the message that nobody in the country gets tax relief unless very high income earners get a bonus tax break? That’s the message they want to send to the American people. I just think it’s unsustainable.”

Van Hollen is among those who favor tax increases as a way to reduce the national deficit.

“The president’s talked about it, combination of cuts but also revenue,” he said. “And it’s very clear from the exit polling that a majority of Americans recognize that we need to share responsibility in reducing the deficit. That means asking higher income earners to contribute more to reducing the deficit.

“So, that was one of the clear messages that was one of the central themes in this campaign. The president won. And I think it’s important that Republicans on the Hill recognize that the American people have said, balanced approach is necessary, we get our deficit under control.”

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Margaret Hoover, a Republican political analyst, told Van Hollen that “exit polling actually showed, ‘Should taxes be raised to help cut the budget deficit?’ and 63 percent of exit pollers said no.”

Van Hollen responded, “All the exit polling I’ve seen shows that people said yes when it comes to people over $250,000 contributing more to reduce the deficit. When you ask people whether everybody should face a tax increase, they say no. That’s not what the president has called for. The president’s been very clear throughout this campaign. He has asked people over $250,000 to pay – go back to Clinton era rates on the amount of money above $250,000.”

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said Wednesday it’s actually Democrat policies of massive borrowing and spending that’s pushing the nation over the edge.

“We are going over a financial cliff. Everybody in the Obama camp knows we are going over the financial cliff whether we raise taxes on the rich or not,” Limbaugh explained. “Raising taxes, confiscating the wealthy’s money would not save us. There isn’t the money. But this is how this works now. This is how they do it. … It’s not Obama, you see, whose policies are going to take us over the financial cliff. It’s these Republican creeps that won’t go along with tax increases.”

But will Republicans draw a line in the sand, or will they go along with tax hikes?

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Wednesday afternoon he’s ready to deal with Obama to avoid plunging off the cliff.

“If there is a mandate in yesterday’s results, it is a mandate for us to find a way to work together on solutions to the challenges we face together as a nation,” Boehner said. “For purposes of forging a bipartisan agreement that begins to solve the problem, we’re willing to accept new revenue, under the right conditions.”

Among the conditions for higher taxes would be a renovated tax code.

“Does the increased revenue come from government taking a larger share of what the American people earn through higher tax rates?” Boehner asked. “Or does it come as the byproduct of a growing economy, energized by a simpler, cleaner, fairer tax code, with fewer loopholes, and lower rates for all?”

He noted, “We can’t solve the problem of our fiscal imbalance overnight … This is going to take time.”

Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday both he and Obama were eager to avoid to the fiscal cliff.

“We’re going to have to compromise, too. It’s not like we’re going to go in and say this is our deal. Take it or leave it,” Biden said.