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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mel Martinez on higher taxes: 'Republicans are going to have to swallow the pill'



Florida's former senator and a one-time head of the national Republican Party, Mel Martinez, said Thursday that members of his own party need to get ready to go along with higher taxes.

"Republicans are going to have to swallow the pill they don't want to swallow," Martinez said on a conference call with reporters about the effects of the so-called "fiscal cliff" debt talks in Washington.

But, Martinez said, Democrats also need to "confront the most-ardent of their supporters" as well. They need to help tackle the "elephant in the room:" entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

If there's no debt deal between Republicans and Democrats in Washington, Martinez warned, tax increases will rise on everyone, federal programs will be cut, recession could ensue and, according to a defense-industry study, Florida could lose 80,000 military-related jobs.

Dire warnings about the need for Congress and the president to act are nothing new, but what makes Martinez's statements stand out is his pedigree: a former top Washington Republican leader and a current banking industry executive with the firm JP Morgan Chase.

Martinez's remarks, made on behalf of the Florida branch of a national group called the Campaign to Fix the Debt, is another sign that business leaders are growing increasingly nervous with the brinksmanship in Washington.

Story here.

[Last modified: Thursday, December 13, 2012 2:28pm]


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