Corker: Rank-and-File GOP Would Support Tax Hikes in Exchange for Entitlement Reform

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Bob Corker says his fellow Republicans in the Senate would probably agree to higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans if it meant getting a chance to overhaul costly government entitlement programs such as Medicare.

Corker tells "Fox News Sunday" that a "growing" number or Republicans are realizing they "don't have a lot of cards as it relates to the tax issue" in fiscal cliff negotiations.

The senator from Tennessee is regarded as a fiscal conservative and has been gaining stature in the Senate as a pragmatic deal broker. His comments put new pressure on House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders to rethink their long-held assertion that even the very rich shouldn't see their rates go up next year.

GOP leaders have argued that the revenue gained by hiking the top two tax rates would be trivial to the deficit, and that any tax hike hurts job creation.

Corker says agreeing to Obama's tax plan would shift the focus to entitlements and could give Republicans a chance to "do something that really saves the nation."