Pelosi, Van Hollen, Durbin: Americans Still Not Taxed Enough

By Susan Jones | January 7, 2013 | 7:05am EST

President Barack Obama winks as he arrives to make a statement regarding the passage of the fiscal cliff bill at the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

( - Are Democrats done raising taxes on the American people?

"No," says House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

"We can raise more revenue," says Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). 

And Sen. Dick Durban (D-Ill.) says "there are still deductions, credits, special treatments under the tax code which ought to be looked at very carefully."

The three Democrats took similar questions about additional tax hikes on different Sunday talk shows.

Interviewed Friday by Bob Schieffer, host of CBS's "Face the Nation," Pelosi was asked if the "revenue side" of the fiscal cliff is finished. Revenue means higher taxes to Democrats.

"No, no, it is not," Pelosi replied. "I mean, the president had said originally he wanted $1.6 trillion in revenue. He took it down to $1.2 as a compromise. In this legislation (fiscal cliff) we had $620 billion, very significant, high-end tax -- changing the high-end tax rate to 39.6 percent. But that is not enough on the revenue side."

"Are you talking about more taxes?" Schieffer asked Pelosi.

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"We're talking about looking at the tax code, putting everything on the table from the standpoint of closing loopholes -- and we know that we can do that -- special subsidies for big oil, for example, $38 billion right there.

"But again, not to take things in isolation, just to say, OK, well, how much more revenue can we get as we go forward?"

Would Democrats eliminate tax deductions, Schieffer asked Pelosi.

"My idea of tax reform is to have a comprehensive view," she replied. "We've talked about tax simplification and fairness as something that we should be engaged in all along -- long before these fights came along. And now we have a chance to do that with I'd say a heightened awareness by the public on why we need to do certain things.

"So let's, you know, put on the table what it is that we can, in order to increase revenue. We've changed the rate, the high-end tax rate, (to) 39.6 percent, a very important step. And again, there's much more that we can do by just subjecting it to the scrutiny of what is bringing in revenue, what is creating growth. And we don't want to hurt that if there's some tax provisions that create growth. We want to support that."

Pelosi ruled out higher taxes on the middle class. But for people in higher income brackets, higher taxes are "not off the table," she said. "But not in terms of tax rates but in terms of other considerations."

'We have to take a balanced approach'

On "Fox New Sunday," Rep. Chris Van Hollen was asked about the Republican position -- expressed by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell -- that there will be no more tax hikes.

"Well, if Mitch McConnell is going to draw the line in the sand, it's going to be a recipe for more gridlock," Van Hollen said. "We have to take a balanced approach to long-term deficit reduction -- meaning additional (spending) cuts."

Van Hollen noted that as part of the fiscal cliff deal, "We raised $730 billion in revenue from very high income individuals. As we go forward, we need to adopt the same framework as the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission, meaning a combination of cuts and revenue."

During the presidential campaign, even the Republican candidates were talking about closing tax "loopholes" that benefit wealthy Americans, Van Hollen noted: "Guess what. They are still there," Van Hollen said. "So, through tax reform, we can raise more revenue matched by additional cuts to address the sequester issue and long-term deficit."

'These loopholes...'

On CNN's "State  of the Union with Candy Crowley," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also indicated he's willing to keep raising taxes: "There's money to be saved in tax reform," Durbin said.

"I can tell you that there are still deductions, credits, special treatments under the tax code which ought to be looked at very carefully. We forgo about $1.2 trillion a year in the tax code, money that otherwise would go to the government, and when you look closely, some of those things are near and dear to us individually and to the economy -- the mortgage interest deduction, charitable deductions, deductions for state and local taxes, but beyond that, trust me, there are plenty of things within that tax code, these loopholes where people can park their money in some island offshore and not pay taxes, these are things that need to be closed. We can do that and use the money to reduce the deficit."

Crowley asked Durbin, "So there are other taxes that you believe that you can, however you want to put them, raise, retrieve, whatever, from the wealthy?"

"Absolutely," Durbin replied. "And I'll also tell you that I think we need to open our minds to our tax revenue. You know, we've had conversations about an infrastructure fund that will really start America building again, for the highways and airports and locks and dams and things like that...I believe we should have energy taxes that really fund infrastructure investment."

Durbin said higher gas taxes should be considered in the future. And he alluded to higher taxes on electricity to expand the nation's power grid.

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