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Leading Democrat says GOP tax argument flawed

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July 5, 2011 08:09 AM EST | AP

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WASHINGTON — A leading House Democrat thinks members of Congress could reach a deal to avoid a government default if they could get past the semantics of tax increases.

Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina tells MSNBC one of the biggest obstacles in talks to resolve the issue is that many Republicans consider closing tax loopholes to be the same as raising taxes. This is a problem, he says, because most House Republicans have signed a no-new-taxes pledge.

Clyburn says a short-term deal to avoid default on Aug. 2 might be the only viable option "if we can't get a longer term deal."

The veteran congressman adds: "If you consider closing loopholes raising taxes, that keeps us from having a good conversation about where to go from here. And that's the problem."