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GOP: No tax hikes for spending cuts

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GOP: No tax hikes for spending cuts

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- A Republican U.S. senator said Sunday his party will block any deal that includes tax increases to avoid steep budget cuts in defense and domestic programs.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said deals put forth by Democrats that include tax increases will be rejected by Republicans and predicted the budget cuts, known in Washington-speak as the sequester, will likely take effect.

"Let me be very clear -- and I'd say this to the president as I say it to you -- these spending cuts are going to go through on March 1," Barrasso said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

Democrats proposed a $110 billion measure to avert the cuts last week, a proposal that was summarily shot down. The cuts, dubbed the "fiscal cliff" were supposed to take effect Jan. 1, but lawmakers came together to put off their implementation for three months. They dramatically reduce spending on defense and agriculture subsidies supported by Republicans and many domestic programs dear to Democrats.

"Taxes are off the table," Barrasso said. "The American people need to know tax cuts are off the table and the Republican Party is not in any way going to trade spending cuts for a tax increase."

Senate Democrats said they remain optimistic a deal can be reached on terms laid out by President Barack Obama during his re-election campaign. Obama proposed raising taxes on the wealthy -- already enacted -- and paring tax loopholes exploited by corporations, while trimming spending on entitlement programs.

"I think that Democrats have the high ground both substantively and politically and we will win on this issue," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the program.

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