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. gango

    So Senator Coburn is saying either the President accepts the Republican plan or there will be no plan at all. And you thought you could get the GOP to compromise. Bah! Humbug!

    December 4, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. Larry L

    @Tom

    FYI- For all of you who keep saying the GOP lost the election, maybe a little civics lesson is in order.
    ------------------------------------------------- You're missing the real lesson. The GOP is trying to be one party in the primary and another in the general election. They are trying to capture votes from extremists who listen to Fox News and believe every conspiracy. They also want to own the socially ultra-conservative population – some of the same folks. Both of these groups have little in common with the fat cats who fund and actually control the GOP. This Jekyll & Hyde personality alienates the pragmatic, right-of-center population that is too rational for the far-right and not wealthy enough to support the 1% who control the Party behind the scenes. You will either learn to be honest in developing your platform or fade from existence.

    December 4, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. Tony

    The mid-point has changed. The 2012 election shows that Democrats are closer to the political middle than Republicans. Otherwise, Democrats would not have won the election. Of course, if the political middle does not exist anymore, Republicans are in big trouble.

    December 4, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. Donna

    It is pretty clear Obama intends to send the country off the mythical fiscal cliff. They get everything they have been asking for for years, massive defense cuts and massive taxes. Then he will play the savior by proposing tax cuts for everybody except to top 2% that are alrady aying most of the btax bill for this country and will pay even more with all the Obamacare tax increases targeting them. Pretty despicable political game being played with the country if you ask me.

    December 4, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  5. David in Florida

    Obama main campaign theme was that the 2% will pay taxes at Clinton era tax rates – no more Bush tax cuts for them.
    Romney campaigned on the same tax and spending cut policy that the GOP has presented to the White House.
    Romney lost the election. 52+% of the PEOPLE rejected Romney's plan and elected Obama.
    Obama must find the backbone to say NO and let the Republicans drive us over the fiscal cliff. Clinton called their bluff and the GOP paid the price.
    Obama must follow Clinton's method of dealing with these radicals who are not beyond tearing our country apart and getting rid of not only Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but the Civil Rights Acts as well (compliments of the old Dixiecrats in the Old South that are now Republicans).

    December 4, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. Wise1Speak

    PRES. OBAMA and the DEMOCRATS HAVE "NO CHOICE BUT TO WALK AWAY" FROM BOEHNER'S RIDICULOUS OFFER

    For the past 4-years President Obama has made it abundantly clear that the "upper 2%" must pay their fair share of tax revenues to allow the other 98% (i.e. middle-class) to pay their mortgages, health cost, education, and drive the economy. The President was reelected based on this commitment and the Democrats also picked up more seats in the Senate and House.

    John Boehner knows very well that the President cannot reverse his campaign pledge to increase tax-rates of the rich from 35% to 39%, while keeping taxes lower for the middle-class. The American people re-elected Pres. Obama because they prefer his method of a fair & balance approach to raising tax revenues as oppose to "Paul Ryan / Republican" plan of balancing the nation's debts on the backs of the middle-class and the hard-working poor.

    December 4, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. v

    people please remember they get paid no matter what! with or without taxes. lol you elected these people on both sides of the office over and over again and you get what you paid for including the tax bill! they will be home for christmas enjoying their gifts and not a care of how you spend your christmas...they care not a wit of how they talk or what they say because you keep on believing..

    December 4, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. Tom

    Larry L- I am not missing the lesson. The behavior you are describing cuts both ways. I hope you are not implying the Democrats don't pander to their far-left side of the party. Both parties have their fringe that try to drag the party out of the mainstream. Many extremists listen to Fox because the mainstream media for years has had a left leaning tendency and people were tired of hearing one side of the argument all the time. Both parties have to appease their fringes, but when it comes time to govern, they need to move back to the middle. Unfortunately, our elected officials rarely get down to the job of governing and continue to campaign from the day they take office.

    December 4, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  9. Ken

    He went from 950 billion in new revenue before the election to 800 billion after losing the election... this isn't a serious offer at all... asking the president to get rid of Obamacare and kill millions of Americans by way of a lack of reasonable access to medical care... all so the rich can keep their tax breaks... this is the same Republican Plan that lost them seats in the house, the senate, and the white house.

    December 4, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. Franky

    Good, go over it. Then Obama can just offer a tax break to 98% of Americans and then watch the GOP try and fight against it.

    December 4, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. ken

    What happened to Romney saying he can get both sides to work together. He clearly said that in one of the debates. He is a typical Republican.

    December 4, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  12. Howard Feinski

    What does it matter if we go over the fiscal cliff? The prez wants to collapse the status quo just as the leader of WWII Germany dissolved the parliament. For a NEW Germany.

    December 4, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    one of the few taxpayers left wrote on page 4:

    It is amazing to me how this country has changed. There is absolutely no shame today in demanding that people who worked harder, worked smarter, took risk, sacrificed, succeeded give the money that they earned to people who are unwilling to make those same sacrifices. ......
    --------------
    There is nothing wrong with expecting people to work hard, and be responsible for themselves and their own. What is shamefully ignorant is to pre-judge someone, or an entire group of people, based upon how they look, talk, or think, and assume that the person is a lazy, good-for-nothing, living off of tax dollars.

    December 4, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. SE

    And that my friends is what Republicans think compromising is. Do what I want or you get nothing.

    December 4, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. Tom

    Ken????????

    You do know that Obama won the election????? Romney meant if he was president, not as a private citizen where he has no political influence. I bet a large number of democrats saw your post and wanted to hide. LOL BTW Even if he won, he would be President elect and have no actual power until January.

    December 4, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "when you want to blame Bush"

    This isn't about when I "want to blame Bush." This is about accepting the facts, evidence, historical record, math, expert opinions and what the numbers show. THE NUMBERS DON'T LIE. The Bush tax cuts are the single biggest contributor to the defict and debt problems, followed by the wars. These things are not deniable. You cannot rationalize them away with crazed ideological platitudes and sophistry or by trying to turn the reality of them on their head by claiming that the deficits and debts are caused by a "spending problem." The Bush tax cuts were enacted without first enacting spending cuts and predictably resulted in massive deficits. They were unnecessary and designed to do exactly that in order to give the GOP the arguments they are now making about the necessity of killing Medicare and SS in order to fix the problem. Moreover, the recession was caused by deregulation and lax oversight of the financial industry on Bush's and the GOP's watch. This is also not deniable, no matter how much the GOP tries to shift the focus to the bad mortgages themselves and away from the blatant gambling games and risk taking on Wall Street that blew them up. We've spent the past 4 years listening to the GOP/Teatrolls deny deny deny the reality of where the deficits and debt comes from and it has nothing to do with "wanting" to blame Bush. It has to do with the fight to get the story straight so that we can correctly address the real underlying problems here, instead of allowing the GOP to shift blame everywhere BUT on the real sources of the problem because they're afraid it will damage their power to admit the mistakes and allow us to correct them.

    December 4, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  17. SE

    Ancient Texan-
    You're wrong on two counts-
    First-Kennedy's tax cuts occured lower down the tax/income scales. They weren't targeted for the very rich as they were under Bush.
    Second- the rich have had 12 years of tax breaks- the results? Oh, yeah, the CBO and the CRS reports both say the worst, and least efficient stimulus is tax breaks to the rich.

    Finally remember? Bush called for these tax cuts because there was a budget surplus- they were meant initially to last 2 years. The GOP either lied, or simply got addicted to them.

    December 4, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  18. Tom

    Rudy NYC

    I just read the whole post you referenced and I didn see any of the words you are attributing, "based upon how they look, talk, or think, and assume that the person is a lazy, good-for-nothing, living off of tax dollars." He does talk about making sacrifice and you take that and use your own interpretation to spew hate. If you have a comment about what someone says, please do not change his words to make yourself look better. Give your opinion if you like, but please spare us the histrionics of misquoting to make your point.

    December 4, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  19. josh rogen

    it makes sense to just let it happen and fix the taxes later other wise there will be no curb on spending at all just higher taxes and higher spending

    December 4, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  20. NickAnast

    Tom

    234 to 201

    Want to tell me what those numbers represent?
    *************************************

    They represent a skillful job of gerrymandering by the GOP. Democratic House candidates received 1 million more votes than GOP House candidates nationwide, yet the GOP wound up with a 33-seat advantage.

    Those numbers also represent a gain of 8 seats for the Dems over the 2010 election.

    December 4, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. Debits-n-Credits

    Congress seems to respond well to "campaign contributions" (which many consider to be bribes), so let's give them lots of money and perks and the promise of a $1 million or $2 million salary working for a loby firm, once they leave office.

    Perhaps that will get them moving.

    December 4, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  22. ART

    Republicans will be the demise of this great nation. Most Americans are sick of their rrtrograde rhetoric, well the ones with any inteligence anyway.They have nothing to offer except if you are a mulimillionaire .

    December 4, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. GOP = Greed Over People

    My two rules to survive the coming "solution" for the fiscal cliff:

    1. Tuck
    2. Roll

    You are welcome.

    December 4, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Tom

    Rudy NYC

    I just read the whole post you referenced and I didn see any of the words you are attributing, "based upon how they look, talk, or think, and assume that the person is a lazy, good-for-nothing, living off of tax dollars." He does talk about making sacrifice and you take that and use your own interpretation to spew hate. If you have a comment about what someone says, please do not change his words to make yourself look better. Give your opinion if you like, but please spare us the histrionics of misquoting to make your point.
    --------------------
    Answer this question, Tom. Who was the pserson talking about? If they did not have a specific group of individuals, or some past experience in mind, then what on earth were they talking about? If they were not talking about anyone specific, then they were ranting off into the wilderness of the insane mind.

    December 4, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    @Tom

    "There is nothing wrong with expecting people to work hard, and be responsible for themselves and their own. What is shamefully ignorant is to pre-judge someone, or an entire group of people, based upon how they look, talk, or think, and assume that the person is a lazy, good-for-nothing, living off of tax dollars."

    You call that hate? Apparently, you disagree with my observation that it is shameful and ignorant to pre-judge someone, to judge a book by its' cover. I find it remarkable that you would describe what I wrote as "hate". I was raised " to not judge a book by its' cover." What about you?

    December 4, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
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