December 3rd, 2012
09:58 PM ET
2 years ago

Coburn sees fiscal cliff looming if Democrats reject Boehner proposal

(CNN) - If President Barack Obama steps away from the Republican deficit-reduction proposal advanced Monday by House Speaker John Boehner, "we will go over the 'fiscal cliff,'" predicted Sen. Tom Coburn.

That said, the Oklahoma Republican added he doesn't want to see the negotiations continue to play out on the front pages or at campaign-style events.

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"All this jockeying in public - we need real leadership right now. There shouldn't be anything offered in public," Coburn said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront." "What it should be is the president and Speaker Boehner in a room and nobody comes out of the room until this is solved."

"I'm okay to compromise even on some of my issues if in fact we'll solve the problem," he continued. "But what we have is a game being played ... for the extreme right wing and the extreme left wing in this country rather than coming together and leading and solving the problem."

Coburn was appointed by the top Senate Republican to Obama's 2010 bi-partisan deficit reduction panel chaired by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles. He was also a member of the informal group known as the "Gang of Six," which sought to write deficit reduction legislation.

Boehner's proposal was blasted by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer for failing to "meet the test of balance," in particular on the issue of tax increases. On that sticking point, Republicans - including Coburn - favor increasing federal government revenues through elimination of tax code loopholes and limiting or capping deductions. Obama maintains that an increase in the tax rates paid by wealthy individuals must be part of a deal.

Some non-partisan analysts, including the Congressional Research Service, have said the increased revenues from handling deductions and loopholes alone would fall short of the targets.

"I've been studying this for seven years. That's baloney," Coburn replied. "It's easy to get $800 billion out of the wealthy in this country by limiting deductions and taking away options that are specifically benefit only the well off in this country."

He and other Republicans have described Boehner's proposal as similar to one Bowles, a Democrat, advanced in the fall of 2011. In addition to maintaining the Bush-era tax breaks on all income levels, it would accomplish $2.2 trillion in savings, among them $600 billion in non-entitlement spending cuts and $800 billion in "health savings."

Bowles said in a Monday statement that the "approach outlined in the letter Speaker Boehner sent to the President does not represent the Bowles-Simpson plan, nor is it the Bowles plan."

"I'm certain that if this is not good enough for the White House, we will go over the fiscal cliff," Coburn said, "because this is a compromise on taxes, this is a compromise on mandatory spending, and it's a compromise on discretionary spending over what the select committee had debated."


Filed under: Fiscal Cliff • Tom Coburn
soundoff (181 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Bowles said in a Monday statement that the "approach outlined in the letter Speaker Boehner sent to the President does not represent the Bowles-Simpson plan, nor is it the Bowles plan."

    What part of the election dose the GOP not understand ?

    December 3, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  2. skywatcher888

    Memo to Coburn: Not raising taxes on the wealthy is a non-starter.

    In case you haven't noticed, Obama won the election. The PATHOLOGICAL insistence by the GOP not to raise their rates is outright harming the economy in this country. If you don't think we'll remember in 2014, you are mistaken.

    And here's an idea I haven't seen anywhere. Raise the rates AND close a few loopholes to get to the levels of revenue we need.

    If you raise the age of Medicare and/or Social Security people will HATE your innerds forever. Seniors may be forgetful, but I guarantee you they won't forget that.

    At least until 2016, you have lost the battle to destroy the Middle Class and the social programs created to sustain it.

    If higher rates on the wealthy hurt the economy as the GOP claims, why is it that when their rates are highest, our economy is BOOMING, and when they are artificially low as they are now, the economy tanks.

    The GOP has become nothing but political thugs for the wealthy. That's not class warfare, that's just simple economics. When you don't have the money to do what you need, you get it where you can.

    December 3, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    I recommend Obama go play golf until around Jan 2nd 2013. Then he can come back and we can start over with tax cuts, below 250k. And if Republicans can't find a reason to pass middle class tax cuts so be it. Like with the election a few weeks ago they will pay for it at the polls, so be it.

    December 3, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  4. hmp49

    " If President Barack Obama steps away from the Republican deficit-reduction proposal advanced Monday by House Speaker John Boehner, "we will go over the 'fiscal cliff,'" predicted Sen. Tom Coburn."

    Really? How about:

    IIf Boehner steps away from Obama's proposal, we go over the cliff. What makes Coburn think the Republicans have got all the answers? Outrageous. It's the path Reagan sent us down (which Reagan started by TRIPLING the national DEBT, not DEFICIT), writing big fat tax cut checks to the wealthy and adding them to the national debt.

    December 3, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  5. Mario Gonzales

    I don't know why the Republicans think they have any leverage on this issue. They LOST the election. The American public wants the President's plan.

    If they keep it up, they will go the way of the Whigs. Be interesting to see what non-Tea Party comes out of that.

    December 3, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  6. john oh

    Republicans are trying to dismantle Obamacare before it kicks in with "Health Savings" while making sure their rich cronies don't see increases in their income and capital gains taxes.

    These people have no shame. Even when they are defeated and the American people have spoken they are still just playing the part of obstructionist. Lower taxes have NOT created any jobs since Bush introduced them. They have only increased the wealth gap, further empowering the wealthy.

    I am an Ohio voter. White male, age 30, pre-existing condition – Cancer. I work full time and have no health insurance. I forget nothing.

    These Republicans can go stick their non-deal where the sun won't shine.

    December 3, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  7. NotLeftBehind

    There is no way the Dems will ever ever agree to anything that could hurt their vote. This talk of removing loopholes is something I've been waiting for nearly 10 years, and finally when it comes to ACTUALLY having fair taxing and not letting the extreme wealthy claim a whole bunch of deductions propped up by obscure laws by legislators, it's gonna be thrown away because liberals need to stick it to the successful. But I see this is only an impediment to the upper middle class or those who rose from the 50K per year to 200K-500K per year while the super millionaires are not even gonna see a real dent. Thank you Democrats for shooting upward mobility in the face. Why don't they offer up a new ceiling and then also take out loopholes. That's fair. Otherwise, everybody should pay higher taxes if everyone wants to believe that everybody should benefit from social programs. This is whole your rich and don't need it is garbage when the real argument is how did you squander your opportunities and devised a way to blame the successful?

    December 3, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  8. ind2012

    " the Oklahoma Republican [Coburn] added he doesn't want to see the negotiations continue to play out on the front pages or at campaign-style events." Interesting that his whole take on the cliff is said to CNN Politics. Guess he doesn't include CNN as front page news. These guys are so full of themselves it's no wonder nothing gets done.
    Is Hypocrisy a genetic trait?

    December 3, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  9. nicsurf

    then were going ooooverrr!!!

    December 3, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  10. Wire Palladin, S.F.

    Republicans have been trying to eliminate the middle class for over 30 years. Their determination to make the poor and middle class pay for tax cuts for the wealthy further exemplify how low and un American they have become.

    December 3, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  11. Rhonda Selser

    Both sides want to go over the cliff and raise taxes on everyone, that is the only way we can continue to pay for all the spending.

    December 3, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  12. Wire Palladin, S.F.

    Typical out of touch gooper.

    December 3, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  13. Steve Smith

    The Republican Party has the rare opportunity to be the Taxing party while the Democrats are the party proposing a tax cut. If the Republican Party persists in their efforts to protect the rich 2% of the population the Bush Tax cuts will expire. The Democrats will then propose a tax cut for the middle class and the Republicans will be in the position of opposing a tax cut for 98% of the population. You can't get elected with only 2% of the population. The "new" Tax cut when passed will be known as the Obama Tax Cut. An additional loss for the Republicans. At least if the Republicans pass the bill that the Senate has already passed they can claim that they saved the majority of the Bush Tax Cuts. They can then work on budget cuts in the spring as the party that saved, as opposed to the party that opposed, Tax Cuts.

    December 3, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  14. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    There needs to be some acceptance from the GOP side to raise tax rates. I don't know why they refuse to understand that.

    December 3, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  15. David

    The republic didn't even have the courage or knowledge to say what Medicare, discretionary or tax loopholes they would close – this is not a proposal, it is another example of politics over people. The only thing they proposed is currency manipulation aimed at saving $200 billion, and increasing payroll taxes which will cost the middle class.

    December 3, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  16. Alan

    It is not about finding a solution .It is about being able to blame the Republicans whatever the result. The House should take the Obama budget, discuss it and than vote on it. Every Republican should then do an "Obama" and vote "Present" That way the Democrats will own the result whatever it is.
    Unforrtunately, I doubt they have the insight or the guts to do that.

    December 3, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  17. grasspress

    okay coburn, "I'm okay to compromise even on some of my issues if in fact we'll solve the problem...." i suggest you use some 'leadership' and convince your fellow republicans to do the same.

    December 3, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  18. Gregory M. Newbold

    He said he wants the President and the Speaker of the House to negotiate this in private and then come out with an agreement.

    The problem with this is that Boehner has no leadership authority within the Republican caucus. He can`t bring them along on any deal; he is impotent.

    So the Senator expects the President, who just won reelection running on raising tax rates on the wealthy, to kowtow to to Mitt Romney`s losing approach. I DON`T THINK SO!

    Mr. Speaker lead your side. Get them in line.

    December 3, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  19. Lance D.

    Obama would need Deval Patrick in the room - to protect him from the big bad Boehner wolf.

    December 3, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  20. jkane sfl gop mascots the blubbering slobs allen west rover nitwitquest rick scott ,carl rove and donald dump ??????

    It's rejected you gop losers ,you lost the elections and your the only morons that don't know it . We support president Obama all the way !!!!

    December 4, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  21. BeverlyNC

    Republicans still don't seem to know they lost the election in a landslide and it was due to the very "plan" Boehner and McConnell are proposing. Killing Medicare. Killing Social Security. Killing veteran benefits. Killing education. Killing tax cuts for the middle class while lowering taxes for the rich even lower than the expiring Bush tax cuts. I guess all those Republicans left in Congress really want to lose their seats in 2014. Be glad to get rid of all these People-betraying Republicans. We can then finally restore America and have it work for the PEOPLE.

    December 4, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  22. jim

    Wondering how does congressman Boehmer gets re elected since the tax increase is only for 2% of tax payers.?

    December 4, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  23. King

    I am tired of seeing the gop giving money to the rich to build china economy by sucking all the m oney ftom our economy to build.chinas armed forces and theabir.economy. Leaving down stream without a paddle. They shout thatdems are socialist. Idont who has the money, as long as the money is spend in our local economy and not in china. So that they can develope their war machine against us.

    December 4, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  24. TEW

    Notice the fear and anxiety of the GOP. It is comical!! They know closing loopholes will not only fail to bring in the necessary amount of revenue needed to reduce the debt they know that closing loopholes such as the mortgage deduction will hit the middle class really hard. The GOP are walking the plank to being forced to break Grover's Tax Pledge. When this happens all of the GOP will be challenged in the 2014 mid-terms which will open the flood gates for the Dems to win the House. Coburn is trying to protect his tax breaks before he retires

    December 4, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  25. StoptheBS

    What part of the stipulation that a deal without increasing the tax rate for the 2% of Americans is NOT a deal? This is all about the pledge they signed and not what's in the best interest of the country. Now that's a lack of leadership and downright unpatriotic. Let us go over that cliff and there will plenty of Republican heads that are going to roll come midterm elections.

    December 4, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
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