"[I]f the President wants to talk loopholes, we'll be glad to talk loopholes," Cantor said. "But, listen, we are not for any proposal that increases taxes, and any type of discussion should be coupled with offsetting tax cuts somewhere else."
In other words, zero new revenues. But the Associated Press and other outlets nonetheless interpreted this as a major concession -- a storyline Cantor's office happily blasted out to reporters.
And as Reuters reported Wednesday, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) made a point of emphasizing that Republicans had in fact agreed to new "revenue." But he didn't mean tax revenue.
"If the government sells something and gets revenue from it, that's revenue. If there is a user fee of some kind and we want to raise that to keep up with the times, that's revenue. And if you add up all of the revenues that we Republicans have agreed to, it's between $150 billion and $200 billion," Kyl said on the Senate floor.
But again, thats not new tax revenue. And it's hard to avoid the conclusion that Republicans hope this coy dance will allow them to shimmy out of the box they've put themselves in.
"Our focus on tax loopholes seems to be putting Republicans on their heels on the issue of revenues," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). "But if Republicans are going say we can only close these loopholes in a revenue-neutral way, it is like taking one step forward and then two steps back. The point isn't to get rid of these loopholes simply to pay for new tax breaks elsewhere, it's to do it in a way that contributes to the reduction of the debt."