House Republicans Don't See Eye to Eye on Fiscal Cliff

Boehner's caucus divided on solutions to the deficit and taxes.

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It's hard enough for Democrats and Republicans to broker a deal on taxes, entitlements and defense spending, but its looking like House Republicans don't agree with each other on how to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole, a former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, made headlines Tuesday when he asked members of his own party to pass a plan to extend the middle class tax cuts immediately and worry about extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans in 2013. Cole saw it as a way to move forward while his caucus did not.

"I think we ought to take the 98 percent deal right now," Cole told Politico. "It doesn't mean I agree with raising the top 2. I don't."

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Cole says Republicans should pass tax cuts for the middle-class now so that Democrats can no longer cling to the narrative that the GOP is holding a deal "hostage" to protect millionaires.

"Some people think that's our leverage in the debate," he said. "It's the Democrats' leverage in the debate."

Cole's moved to the center on taxes, but less than 24 hours later, leadership sought to reign him back in.

"I told Tom earlier in our conference meeting that I disagreed with him," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Wednesday during a press conference on Capitol Hill. "He's a wonderful friend of mine and a great supporter of mine, but raising taxes on the so-called top 2 percent? Half of those taxpayers are small-business owners."

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Boehner added he'd be willing to find new revenues in eliminating some tax loopholes and capping deductions, but not through raising taxes.

"The goal here is to grow the economy and control spending," Boehner said. "You're not going to grow the economy if you raise tax rates on the top. It'll hurt small businesses; it'll hurt our economy."

Fellow Republicans echoed Boehner's commitment to extending Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans. Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador has said he's unwilling to concede on taxes because he's not sure President Barack Obama is dealing with Congress in "good faith."

"I think we're making a mistake that we're running around trying to think of ways to deal with the president when the president doesn't want to deal in good faith," Labrador told CNN.

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Iowa Republican Steve King says he feels like the negotiations have all been too one sided already.

"I think the president doesn't have much of an incentive to do business," King says. "If we go off the cliff it seems, to me, pretty close to the path he would design. I don't think he is going to be very negotiable... he gets massive tax increases up and down the line and he gets to cut the Pentagon until his heart is content, so what doesn't the President have to fear from the fiscal cliff?"

King says he doesn't trust the president's motives in the negotiations and agrees with Republican leadership.

"We are supposed to come to the table with an open mind except for the president," King says. "This is all about whether the President can stick the blame on Republicans."

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Lauren Fox is a political reporter for U.S. News and World Report. She can be reached at lfox@usnews.com or you can follow her on Twitter @foxreports.