Sen. Murray: Raising taxes on wealthy 'has to be part of it'

As the so-called U.S. “fiscal cliff” approaches, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is taking a hard line, insisting that Republicans agree to tax increases as part of any deal.

“It’s time for the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share and help us get out of this challenge,” she said.

Murray is right in the middle of this debate, given that many expect her to become the chairwoman of the all-important Senate Budget Committee starting in January.

Over the weekend, Murray shocked many when she said on ABC that America ought to go ahead and go over the fiscal cliff if House Republicans don’t go along with raising taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

On Monday, the senator talked about the fiscal cliff after a Veteran’s Day event in Seattle.

“If January comes, the Bush tax cuts expire and we don’t have an agreement, then Congress will have to start over, and anything we do will be enacting tax cuts for Americans and we can decide what to do then,” said Murray.

Murray clearly wants a deal soon, but suggests that it might actually be easier for Republicans in January, after all the tax cuts expire.  Then, they won’t have to go on record voting for a tax hike for wealthy Americans, just a tax cut for middle-class Americans.

“I’m hopeful that we don’t reach that because certainty is always better than uncertainty,” she said. “The smarter thing is to just get over it, do it now.”

Republicans are drawing lines, too.  Last week, House Speaker John Boehner signaled a willingness to raise revenue, but would do so only by eliminating deductions and reforming the tax code.

“Everyone wants to get our economy moving again,” he said. “Raising tax rates will slow down our ability to create the jobs everyone says they want.”

Murray on Monday was steadfast in her insistence that the Republican plan for more revenue isn’t good enough.

“I hear a lot of talk about, you know, broadening the base” she said.  “What that means basically, is that we’ll have to take away home mortgage deductions, or charitable deductions, or increase fees on Medicare patients.  That all falls on the middle class, and excludes the wealthiest Americans.”

Is raising rates on the wealthiest a line in the sand for her?

It “has to be part of it,” she said, “so that everybody is helping to solve this problem.”