Dems may face tough fight in own ranks

Kathleen Hunter / Bloomberg News /

Published Nov 20, 2012 at 04:00AM

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats, cautiously optimistic about prospects for a deficit-reduction deal, may have to contend with wariness from seven members who face 2014 re-election campaigns in states Mitt Romney won Nov. 6.

Some of those seven Democrats, including North Carolina’s Kay Hagan and Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, say they aren’t ready to commit to President Barack Obama’s proposals for boosting tax revenue. Instead, Hagan isn’t ruling out support for extending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for top earners. Landrieu said she opposes eliminating tax breaks for oil companies.

Possible Democratic defections heighten the need for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to woo Republican support for a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff — $607 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to begin taking effect in January.

The 60-vote threshold for advancing major legislation in the Senate presents a hurdle for any fiscal agreement.

Hagan said her priority in evaluating a deficit-reduction plan will be the needs of her state, not necessarily what her party leaders want. “I need to be looking at what’s important in North Carolina, and you better believe that’s what I will do,” Hagan said.

Landrieu said in an interview last week she would consider supporting changes to tax breaks for oil and gas companies only as part of a broad tax-code rewrite next year.