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We Should Have Gone Over the 'Fiscal Cliff': Hoyer

Thursday, 14 Mar 2013 | 9:41 AM ET
Budget Wars: Battle on Capitol Hill
Thursday, 14 Mar 2013 | 8:15 AM ET
Rep. Steny Hoyer, (D-MD), discusses whether there is any room for bipartisan compromise, as Congress weighs competing budgets in the House and Senate.

Democrats made a mistake by not going over the "fiscal cliff" at the beginning of the year because a "grand bargain" on budget and debt issues would have been easier to achieve, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer told CNBC on Thursday.

The Maryland Democrat called the budget-balancing approach unveiled on Tuesday by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan an "ideological pipe dream masquerading as policy."

(Watch: Exclusive: One-on-One With Rep. Paul Ryan)

"It seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Everybody knows that's not going to happen," Hoyer said in a "Squawk Box" Interview. "There are huge holes in it," he continued, "which Mr. Ryan says we're going to fix by some method of preference items—tax expenditures if you will—but doesn't say which ones or how."

The Ryan plan does call for closing tax loopholes in order to lower certain personal and corporate tax rates.

The interview came a day after Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray unveiled a Democratic alternative to Ryan's plan. It also called for closing unspecified tax loopholes—for raising more revenue. (Read More: Senate Panel to Approve Budget Sparing Safety Net)

Hoyer echoed the Democrats' call for more revenues on top of the tax increases they got to avoid the "fiscal cliff." He argued that all bipartisan groups that have looked at reducing the federal deficit, including the Simpson-Bowles debt reduction panel, called for a "balanced approach" of spending cuts, entitlement reform and new revenues.

"I think we made a mistake ... not going over the cliff and negotiating from that point of view," Hoyer said. "We would have had a better opportunity to get to a balanced program, which is where we need to be."

(Read More: Obama: Differences May Be 'Just Too Wide' for Deal)

The issue of additional revenues is a major sticking point because Republicans feel they gave in already on revenues when tax rates for wealthier Americans went up at the beginning of the year.

Rep. Steny Hoyer
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Rep. Steny Hoyer

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

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