Budget deal hinges on fee increases that some say are tax hikes in disguise

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A proposal to raise various government fees to offset sequester-driven budget cuts is at the heart of a pending congressional budget deal, though some are warning lawmakers that higher fees is another way of saying tax increase.

It's highly unlikely that the new revenue raised under the deal will be described as a tax increase by the top two officials at the bargaining table, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

But higher fees would generate as much as $65 billion to replace the unpopular cuts in military and domestic spending mandated under the budget-trimming sequester. Those cuts are set to take effect in mid-January.

Details of the fee hikes remain under wraps, but lawmakers have considered increasing fees on airline tickets and new mortgages, raising insurance premiums for pension funds and requiring federal civilian employees to contribute more toward their retirement.

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