If Obama is president, he has vowed to veto any extension of the Bush-era tax rates for annual household incomes over $250,000. If he prevails, those higher taxes on the wealthy would boost government revenue by almost $1 trillion over 10 years. That $1 trillion number fits snugly into the formula, offered by several bipartisan panels, of roughly $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in higher tax revenues as the way to reach $4 trillion in debt reduction.
If that $1 trillion in new taxes is part of any eventual deal, there are five GOP senators up for reelection in 2014 who potentially could vote for it. Two – Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Mike Johanns of Nebraska – are members of the “Gang of Eight,” a bipartisan group of senators looking to flesh out a grand bargain-esque agreement in backchannel talks. Three others – Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine – have supported bipartisan deals in the past.
But what's the risk that the GOP's base of antitax adherents would revolt, perhaps targeting those incumbent senators for primary challenges? Pretty good.