Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette of Ohio said Thursday he's starting to see more openness among House Republicans for the president's pitch to raise tax rates on the top 2% of income earners.
The nine-term congressman, who's retiring in January, said he noticed a turning point on Wednesday when Republicans held their weekly meeting with House Speaker John Boehner--but he added Democrats need to meet them in the middle, too.
"The sense was that there's a growing number of folks in our party that are saying, you know what, the president has won this round relative to the rates, but we need to you to sit down and get the second half of the deal and that's the spending," LaTourette said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."
At issue is a disagreement over the Bush-era tax cuts set to expire for all Americans at the end of the year. Republicans want to renew the tax breaks for everyone, while Democrats call for letting them expire on income over $250,000 for families so that rates return to higher levels of the Clinton era.
Known as a center-right Republican, LaTourette has been circulating a letter with some Democrats urging leaders of both parties to give some ground on their sticking points, rather than stay entrenched on opposing sides of the battle line.
Boehner acknowledged Wednesday that Republicans have already ceded territory by agreeing to put revenue on the table in the deficit-reduction negotiations.
But multiple polls show public support favors the Democratic position, and Obama has ramped up efforts to put pressure on Congress through voters, businesses and labor leaders. The White House firmly stands by its stance that it's willing to let the economy go over the fiscal cliff-letting tax rates go up for everyone--and shift the blame onto Republicans if no deal is reached.
Several GOP senators have said they're ready to let the tax cuts expire on the wealthy, and LaTourette added Thursday he thinks his own party will likely take the same path.
The Ohio congressman also defended members on Capitol Hill as many head home for a long weekend. He said it's ultimately up to Boehner and Obama to cut a deal, adding there's only so much the individual lawmakers can do in the debt talks.
"We have engaged in some charades over the last 18 years, where we all like pretend to be working in our office, but we're not doing anything to get this done because there's nothing we can do," he said. "This is going to be a discussion between the top leaders of the House and the White House.
"And when they signal, sort of like the pope being elected, you know when the white smoke comes out of the Capitol, then we can come back and execute the deal," he added.