Debt, elections prod GOP to ease anti-tax stance

By CHARLES BABINGTON | November 17, 2011 | 4:25 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — The GOP's image as a rigidly anti-tax party is softening.

The shift could reshape the Republican Party's brand name ahead of the 2012 elections and force tough decisions by its presidential candidates.

Some Republican lawmakers say new taxes are a fair swap for deep spending cuts by Democrats. They hope to reach a deficit-reduction deal by next week.

But some conservatives say any tax increases will hurt the economy and the GOP's image.