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Hoyer says he's open to compromise on taxes

In his weekly pen-and-pad session on Capitol Hill with reporters, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer did not rule out a possible compromise with the GOP on extending the Bush tax cuts on high-income earners for one to two years.

While Hoyer mentioned his own opposition to the idea he said, “Are we prepared to discuss alternatives? I’m always prepared to discuss alternatives, so that we can move forward.” Hoyer continued, “What I am saying is, and you know Steny Hoyer, I believe that the Democratic process is a process of us sitting down, talking to one another and trying to reach a consensus so we can move forward. That does not mean you take actions that you don’t believe are appropriate. I don’t want to explode the deficit; the deficit is a real concern to the American public. We need to have that in mind as we figure out what we’re going to do.”

Hoyer’s comments come against a backdrop of many vulnerable members of his caucus expressing concern of being labeled ‘tax raisers’ by the GOP if they do not support a full extension of the Bush tax cuts set to expire at the end of 2010. Unlike difficult votes on healthcare reform and an energy reform bill where House Democratic leaders aggressively lobbied their members, Hoyer acknowledged that on the tax cut issue, Democrats were encouraged to do what they saw as in the “best interests of the country.”

Hoyer: “Every member needs to take their own position on this issue as to what they think is appropriate. Understand that 100% of Americans will benefit from not having taxes on the first $250,000 of income increased…members have to argue beyond that and that’s their position.”

Sources tell NBC News it looks more likely each day that the House Democratic leaders will let the Senate will take the lead on the tax cut issue as not to put their members in a difficult position before the fall mid-terms. Hoyer acknowledged that, “We’re having discussions; there are a lot of discussions about where we are going to go. I want to see what the Senate can do.”