WASHINGTON — Republican leaders in the House and the Senate said Sunday that there would be no compromise with Democrats on whether to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the nation's wealthiest taxpayers.
President Obama has said he wants to extend the tax cuts for taxpayers with a combined annual income of less than $250,000, but that the cuts should be eliminated for people making more than that. He's suggested there might be room for compromise in discussions with Republicans on other tax issues.
But Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who is expected to become majority leader in the House when the new Congress is sworn in next year, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on Sunday news programs that they would insist on extending tax cuts for the wealthy.
McConnell said higher taxes on upper-income earners would harm small businesses.
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"We can't negotiate it this morning, but our view is don't raise taxes on small business," McConnell said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
Cantor said Republicans plan to make spending cuts a priority when they take control of the House in January.
"We're going to embark on a regular diet of spending-cut bills being brought to the floor weekly," he said.
Cantor said Republicans could achieve their goal of 22 percent spending cuts, and he rejected Democrats' objections that reducing spending that much would cut such things as preschool education for poor children, research at the National Institutes for Health and 2,700 FBI agents.
"We're going to have to make some tough decisions," he said, dismissing the Democrats'
list of possible cuts as a "tactic."
Both leaders said they expected to be able to work well with new members of Congress who were elected with tea party support. Many analysts believe the tea-party followers will clash with establishment GOP leaders.
McConnell, however, said that although he didn't support Rand Paul in the Republican primary in Kentucky, he expected to work with him and that Paul would have an opportunity to offer his ideas.
"I think he's an exciting new member," McConnell said.
Cantor said that the tea party movement helped Republicans pick up about 60 seats in the House. About one-third of House Republicans will be tea party supporters.
But Cantor said he would not support tea-party favorite Michelle Bachman, R-Minn., for the party's No. 4 leadership position. Instead, he said he would back Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.
While he described both as conservatives, he said he supported Hensarling because he had a history of working closely with him.