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. ChablisAndBrie

    Oklahoma Republican spoke to CNN to say that he doesn't want to see the negotiations continue to play out on the front pages. On the off chance that people missed the broadcast, he'll be holding a press conference tomorrow to announce his sincere disappointment that these negotiations aren't being held in private.

    December 4, 2012 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  2. Rich

    I don't think either party has any intention of actually avoiding the cliff and never did. These are harsh cuts that had to be made, and none of them have the strength of character to actually take the necessary steps. So they created this fiscal cliff in order that when they do nothing, the necessary cuts happen "automatically" and they can each blame the other party, accepting none for themselves.

    Brilliant, in a cowardly way.

    December 4, 2012 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  3. Al

    I don't like he way the billionairs and the GOP they own are running our country. It is they who have been bleeding the middle class ie....So I closed your factories and your out of work......Quit your whinning because your unemployment benifits are ending.....My factories in China are making me lots of money.....wink..wink... This is what the GOP is standing for, and if the "rates" are not on the table, then there is no change, hence, the GOP will continue to bleed this country

    December 4, 2012 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  4. ThinkAgain: All of the GOP's policies are PROVEN FAILURES

    President Obama ran on asking the wealthy to pay their fair share. What is it about the following that Coburn and the Repubs don't get:

    – President Obama won reelection, with a popular vote margin exceeding 4 million (a million more than GW Bush had in 2004).

    – President Obama's Electoral College majority was 332 to Mittens' 206; compare this to GW Bush's 286 to John Kerry's 251

    – Not only did Democrats pick up two seats in the Senate (from 53 to 55), Democratic senatorial candidates got a total of 10 million more votes than their Republican opponents

    – While Republicans retained their majority in the House, that majority shrunk by 7-8 fewer seats. And even though Democrats didn't regain control, their candidates got about 1 million more votes than Republican House candidates.

    President Obama HAS A MANDATE. Repubs, start doing your job and cooperate!

    December 4, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  5. Alfred E. Neuman

    Well folks, that was then and this is now. Things change. Time for the Republicans to get off their high horse. Their candidate lost running on a similar plan. All this hand wringing about killing the economy because the 2% will have to pay a little more is hogwash. What are they going to do with their money? Stuff it under the mattress. If Warren Buffet is O.K. with raising rates then the rest of his ilk can live with it.

    December 4, 2012 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  6. touch128

    He is the last person to listen to. The President has said he will not back down on the tax the rich!!! Why can't they get it in there big heads. So lets go over the cliff at least we get the Bush tax cut out of there. No-body liked them. It will just make the President look better and the house like a bunch of block heads. Remember the stopping of the Government by Newt and the Republicans Well we know what happened by, by, Newt.

    December 4, 2012 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  7. Ted

    Why should cuts to medicare and social security be good enough? I've been paying for both out of my check for years. Tax rates are the lowest they have been in 50 years; in the 1950's the highest rate was 90%. No surprise the evil GOP wants to punch Grandma in the face and save their rich friends backsides. I will NEVER vote for another republican.

    December 4, 2012 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  8. Donkey Party

    The Republicans refuse to compromise, all they're offering is the Ryan / Romney plan, which America soundly rejected. 2014 is the year the GOP becomes extinct.

    December 4, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  9. JM

    This "no new taxes" proposal is what you call a COMPROMISE? What would a "not-a-compromise" look like? The current crop of Republicans in Congress have demonstrated they are incapable of anything even vaguely resembling compromise. Their attitude towards the elderly, the poor, the unemployed: "Let them eat cake".

    December 4, 2012 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  10. Ex-GOP Con

    Boehnor's plan goes beyond just holding the middle class's tax cuts hostage unless the wealthy 1% get a tax cut. It puts more of the burden on the middle class. What has happened to the GOP? When did it become the party of Greed Over People?

    Boehnor--you're fired!

    December 4, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  11. J.V.Hodgson

    As usual our way or the highway. Does Coburn not get it. Bowles and Simpson reject in written form that what Boehner has proposed represents what they proposed i.e Republicans listening to themselsves only again. The plan takes $800bn out of "health care" which Obama said he would = a veto. More people seem to like PPACA than before the election. It was approved by the SCOTUS and still Republicans Have a go at decimating the Law. its the law of the land until you win both houses in a checks and balances election, face reality.
    How many times do Republicans need telling by the TPC and others that closing loopholes and taking allowances away does not hit the target needed for deficit reduction. ( could affect the Under 250K's taxes upwards)
    Sorry Senator Coburn this time all your tough talk and brinkmanship will not get the tax concession and will take us over the fiscal cliff as you ignore two pledgse Obama made to the American people in winning this election
    1) Tax rates over 250K rise.
    2) PPACA stands and is not a target for savings/ spending cuts.
    Its fine you cannot even prevent the tax rise on the rich any way, and it seems Pelosi has a plan to out manouever all that anyway in the house.
    So pathetic,you only listen to yourselves and the 2% of power mongers of this nation you truly ONLY represent.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    December 4, 2012 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  12. Catherine Shelton

    The proposal from the President presented by the Democrats was absurd and ridiculous. Obama said he was ready for a compromise. He does not know what the word means. He wants the Republicans to give him whatever he wants , if not He will just blame the Republicans for all the damage he has done in the last 4 years. The Republicans have presented a realistic proposal but of coarse Obama won't accept, it limits his spending and over taxing the rich. The Democrats have no shame. Please Republicans don't cave!

    December 4, 2012 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  13. DixonIV

    In the end the Republicans only want to protect the ultra wealthy. These people are not the job creators we should be protecting. The low number for the tax increase should probably be more like 1 mil. Then we should stop the tax deduction for anything past the first home. We need severe penalties for fraud in all areas of the government spending. And here is a great idea, how about require government contracts to come in on time and under budget? Even require them to come in on time and on budget would be nice. I would like to see anyone find one contract that has come even close.

    December 4, 2012 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  14. john

    Oh ya, lay the blame on the President for your own incompitance. The Republicans keep thrusting forward the same plans and expecting us to believe that they have come up with something new. They can't seem to get over the fact that their plan is no good. If they would even be serious and willing to work with the other side they would most likely get some of what they want. But how dumb to just continue to not compromise. They are fast rolling down the cliff to extinction.

    December 4, 2012 04:41 am at 4:41 am |
  15. Candace Clough

    Dear President Obama,, DON'T BLINK!

    December 4, 2012 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  16. korkea aika

    You see, Republicans want reductions in the tax loop holes rather than an increase in tax rates because when this is over, they can begin to quietly introduce the tax loop holes again. A reduction of tax rates, on the other hand, would not be so easy to get done. Tax loop holes can be opened and closed and opened again easily. But tax rates are more tricky. So OF COURSE, Republicans want to close loop holes. But President Obama won't allow this. Hang tight Mr Prez

    December 4, 2012 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  17. notea4me

    Time to show the GOP who won this election. Lets see how they look causing fiscal cliff failure because they want to give tax cuts cuts to the rich....

    December 4, 2012 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  18. independent

    Let's start with putting the Clinton era tax rates for the top earners back in place. Then, what do you need (GOP) from the Dems to accept that? That is the negotiating position now, post election. Do you want to hold the line on Capital Gains, do you need to increase the Estate tax exemption from $5m to $10m, do you want a cap on Medicaid/Medicare?

    December 4, 2012 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  19. Chris

    So Republicans rejecting Obama's plan is perfectly fine, but Obama rejecting Republican's plan will lead directly to the fiscal cliff? No double standard there.

    December 4, 2012 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  20. mimi

    Corporate America agrees to higher tax rates for the wealthy. The American people agree to higher rates for the wealthy. Who is Mr. Boehner to disagree with what businesses and the people ant to see to come about. It's simply irresponsible and reckless. The majotity of people see this and is certainly not 'flabbergasted' by the Obama proposal which is known now for more than four years. Mr. Boehner proves that he is out of touch and obviously does not follow up what's beeing discussed. Republicans should simply ignore him. It would be good for the country, good for the party and good for themselves.

    December 4, 2012 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  21. artraveler

    Well, Senator Coburn, the beggar states (aka the Republican "red" states) will feel the brunt of the $500 million dollar in non-Defense spending cuts as well as a majority of the Defense cuts also. Wave good-bye. What kind of blackmail does Grover hold over all you Republ;icans-it must have been one hell of as party that no one on the GOTP sides is willing to be an American first?

    December 4, 2012 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  22. Marie MD

    I have an idea. Make all rethugs in congress go over the cliff like the lemmings they are. Problem solved and no tears will be shed for the worst do nothing repug congress in our history.

    December 4, 2012 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  23. anonoymous

    Of course Coburn doesnt want public opinion because he works for the public and what do we know? We the people have spoken and have a right to know who is trying to give the middle class the shaff. By re electing the president the gop already knows what the majority wants. We didnt elect Norquist or any of his kind. voting with them will find them like them. private citizens!

    December 4, 2012 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  24. Dnick47

    Dear Mr. President,

    Keep rejecting the GOP plans and lets go over the cliff. When these multi-millionaries and billioniares loose everything then they will see (possibly) how stupid they really were and why under their leadership both politically and economically the United States has lost its leadership position.

    December 4, 2012 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  25. Gurgyl

    Good for you–let deal not break, then GOP is in trouble in 2014.

    December 4, 2012 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
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