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GOP Shouldn't Give Up on Tax Issue: House Whip

Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Barack Obama.
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Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Barack Obama.

A key House Republican chastised members of his party Monday for suggesting that the GOP agree to let tax rates rise on the wealthy as part of a deal to avoid the "Fiscal Cliff."

"You cannot negotiate with yourself," House Majority Whip Kevin McCarth told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Monday. "We're always going to talk about the tough stuff, the spending cuts later. But we're spending too much now. That's our challenge."

McCarthy's comments, which echoed a Wall Street Journal editorial on Monday, came after several Republicans suggested letting tax rates rise on the wealthy in order to shift the debate to spending cuts and entitlement reforms.

GOP Sen. Bob Corker is among those urging a shift in strategy, as he explained to CNBC later on Monday morning. (Read more: Why We Should Just Raise Taxes on the Rich: Corker)

"The best place for Republicans to be is to pass the rate increases, be done with it and then we're still focused on the right thing, which is entitlement changes," he said in an interview on "Squawk on the Street."

But McCarthy said Republicans should be negotiating with President Obama, not each other.

(Read More: Bowles Predicts '40% Chance' of Cliff Deal Before Year End)

Republicans have agreed to put revenues on the table by closing tax loopholes and deductions, not by raising rates. McCarthy pointed out on Monday that the president said the same thing just last year.

"Give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking tax rates. It could simply be accomplished by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions and engaging in a tax reform process that could lower rates generally while broadening the base," said President Obama on July 22, 2011.

McCarthy said Obama is now asking for more taxes to spend more, which will get us into a worse situation.

"There is more money sitting cash on hand than at any time in 50 years in America," said McCarthy. "If we ended uncertainty [and cut a deal], we'd have the biggest stimulus with no money from government being borrowed."

By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere; Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC

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