WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Republican senator underscored division within his party ranks on Tuesday by opposing a plan by the top Republican to increase tax revenues as part of a possible deal to avert the "fiscal cliff."
Senator Jim DeMint, a favorite of the anti-tax Tea Party movement, said the proposal by House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner for $800 billion in increased tax revenues would "destroy jobs and allow Washington politicians" to swell, not reduce, the deficit.
Boehner and fellow House Republican leaders on Monday made the offer, which would raise revenue by eliminating some tax breaks and without increasing any tax rates.
The House Republican proposal was made as a counter offer to one by President Barack Obama, which would increase tax rates on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, while renewing a tax cut for 98 percent of Americans.
Boehner made the offer after some Republicans voiced support to raising taxes on the wealthy in order to obtain a deal by the end of the month to avoid a crush of automatic spending cuts and tax increases that could plunge the nation into a recession.
DeMint's action showed Boehner faces pressure to stand firm against raising taxes while some in his ranks believes he needs to do so to obtain elusive common ground with Obama's Democrats.
In a statement, DeMint said, "This isn't rocket science. Everyone knows that when you take money out of the economy (with tax hikes), it destroys jobs, and everyone knows that when you give politicians more money, they spend it," DeMint said.
"This is why Republicans must oppose tax increases and insist on real spending reductions that shrink the size of government and allow Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money," the South Carolina Republican said.
(Reporting By Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Bill Trott)