GOP senator backs tax rate hike on wealthy
December 5th, 2012
06:09 PM ET
2 years ago

GOP senator backs tax rate hike on wealthy

Washington (CNN) - In a significant development in the fiscal cliff standoff, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, a leading deficit hawk, said Wednesday he would support higher tax rates on wealthier Americans as part of a broader deal with President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats to avoid the crisis.

"I know we have to raise revenue," the senator from Oklahoma told MSNBC. "I don't really care which way we do it. Actually, I would rather see rates go up than do it the other way, because it gives us a greater chance to reform the tax code and broaden the base in the future."

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Coburn, who served on the Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission and participated in the Gang of Six deficit talks, was one of the first Republicans a couple of years to embrace raising revenue to reduce the deficit. At that time, he wanted to do it through reforming the tax code by eliminating loopholes and deductions that he argued favored the rich and powerful. But now he appears to be the first GOP senator to say publicly he would back increasing the tax rates on the wealthy, as long as that increase is coupled with spending cuts and entitlement reforms.

Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both Republicans from Maine, said later Wednesday they, too, would support the tax rate increase on the wealthy, though they would like to see a caveat to "protect small business owners" who include their business income on their personal tax returns.

"I believe that very wealthy individuals-millionaires and billionaires-should pay a greater percentage of their income in taxes to help us reduce the soaring deficit," Collins said, noting that "In April, I was the only Republican to vote to proceed to consideration of a bill, the so-called "Buffett Rule," which would have imposed a new minimum tax on the very wealthy."

Coburn thinks its better to raise rates now, which will generate the money needed to get beyond the fiscal cliff and then negotiate broad reforms to the tax code – such as eliminating deductions and loopholes – that both Republicans and Democrats argue is necessary.

He is worried that if some reforms are made now as part of the fiscal cliff talks, Congress might never return to the table to do comprehensive reform.

Not surprisingly, Democrats seized on Coburn's unexpected new position.

"Senator Coburn is an unquestioned conservative," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, in a news release. "If he doesn't provide cover for the Republicans to finally shift on tax rates, I don't know who does."

"Welcome to the Club," read a news release issued by House Democrats.


Filed under: Fiscal Cliff • Tom Coburn
soundoff (331 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S.F.

    Tomorrow, Tom will call Grover and apologize. He will point out that the only oath that matters to the GOP is to Grover, not the United States.

    December 5, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  2. Wake up People!

    They really don't have much of a choice. If only they would have worked with President Obama on day 1 instead of working against him, we wouldn't even be in this position. Can you imagine what could have been accomplished had the GOP been REAL patriots and put country first before party loyalty?? No they were too busy signing pledges drawn up by an unelected individual that didn't want his taxes to go up.

    All I can say is KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK GOP! At this rate, I'll be 100 before we see another republican in the White House. Ok maybe not 100 but at least 70.

    December 5, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  3. needNewGov

    Good to see a little sanity creeping into the "Fiscal Cliff" issue. Face it, most millionaire/ billionaires are OK with their taxes going up 3-4% if it truly helps. The only ones who have their heads in the sand seems to be the GOP House members and General Boner.

    December 5, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  4. TEAPARTY MIKE

    Yep, rate hikes or deductions cap, gets you to the same place. Either way taxes go up on the rich. Flip a coin and get it over with. A USA Today editioral today said the latest Republicans offer was a credible and serious offer. Said it was a more serious offer than Obama's. Said it was not perfect but it was a serious balanced offer worth of bring Obama into face to face talks. This editoral was the USA Today's opinion by the way, not some Republican who's editioral was published in the USA Today. Yet today Obama insisted no talks until Republicans agree to tax rate hikes. I say flip a coin or at least start talking about other parts of a deal. Obama has said he is open to other ideas on revenue and I saw an old clip today when Obama was talking about a debt ceiling deal. In the clip he said you can get 1.2 trillion from tax reform and without raising rates. Do not know the details, but now he says you can not even get 800 billion. What is his game?

    December 5, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  5. plain&simple

    OPEN the flood gates!!! Good for the man from Oklahoma....let the teabags go stand alone and the patriots will get the WORK of governing done!

    December 5, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  6. aurelius

    Quite a crucial development. Am still surmising that once Obama gets his tax raise and satisfies his party backers, he'll work hard to get some real cuts in the budget passed, even if it means getting GOP support at the expense of some hard core left Dem. But for now, he has to meet the expectations of own party and fulfill his campaign promises. There is no doubt that the man has the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the nation, and as a second term president who has not to worry about re-election, the odd is that he'll make it.

    December 5, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  7. Landry

    Of course nothing is spoken about any cuts to spending. I have always liked Coburn but if this was the entirety of his statement he has been in Washington too long.

    December 5, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  8. Pete

    Now republicans are coming to their senses knowing how the public feels about raising taxes on the wealthy and also realize their backs are against the political wall ..They'll be certainly blamed if both houses don't act before years end and they don't want to be wiped out come midterms so they better act accordingly and quickly as well their futures depend on it not Norquists pledge anymore!!

    December 5, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. wolfpackbob

    Time for the House to pass tax cuts for everyone and let Reid and Obama veto tax cuts for everyone. And if we go over the cliff with strategic automatic spending cuts, Obama's socialist agenda for the next years dies on the vine from lack of spending. Sounds like a good Plan A and Plan B.

    December 5, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  10. NameNC_Right

    New democrat campain slogan ....punish the successful....so you too can stay lazy.

    December 5, 2012 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  11. JDA

    Nobody likes higher taxes, but only a fool would try to solve this country's problems by cutting expenses alone. Budget cuts are only going to go so far. Increased revenue is a must.

    December 5, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  12. John G.

    Raising rates is the simplest and most transparent approach to raising more revenue. If the deductions are used to increase revenue, just wait for the political games and obfuscations that will occur as the GOP tries to gerrymander it to protect the incomes of the 2 percent.

    December 5, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  13. AZSenior

    It's a very big step in starting to restore my faith in the Republican party, which I had to abandon in the George Bush era!

    December 5, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  14. noboat1

    Another sell-out and coward.......hope he's gone in 2014 and a tea partier voted in.

    December 5, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  15. blake

    Romney loses by 2% of the popular vote and a number of GOP Congressmen act like we lost in a landslide. Wake up! Hold your ground! The problem is not a revenue problem. It is an out of control spending problem. And screwed up fiscal priorities.

    December 5, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  16. glorydays

    Sorry, I missed it. Stopped watching Morning Joe. Scarborough seems to imitating the other know it all creeps of cable.

    December 5, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  17. ItSoNlYmE

    About time Republicans get with the rest of the country! A HUGE majority of Americans think the top 2% of income earners should pay a higher marginal rate. And we're not talking about a huge increase. It's only going back to where we were under Clinton in 1995. Not like we're asking them to go back to the 91% rate in effect in the 1940s through the late 1960s. Good for you Senator Coburn!

    December 5, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  18. Mrs b

    It is good to see the Republicans coming to the table to do some problem solving. This is what we sent our Senators and Representatives to Washington to do.

    December 5, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  19. Sashatree

    What's this?? A moment of sanity!?

    December 5, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  20. Vence

    They are starting to align!

    December 5, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  21. rosaliegrieder

    What gives congress the right to leave before getting the job done.

    December 5, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  22. Ski one

    The problem is Boehner, let's impeach that guy

    December 5, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  23. Randy, San Francisco

    If more politicians from both sides of the aisle are willing to do what is right and courageous, the country may not go over the fiscal cliff. They should leave the extreme rhetoric and talk to political pundits and talk show entertainers.

    December 5, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  24. john

    I think people have been saying, for years if not decades, that loopholes have to be closed and the tax system streamlined, simplified, and made more equitable. Good for Coburn but I'll be surprised if he gets the right wing finatics in his party to back a significant rise in taxes for the robber barons.

    December 5, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  25. Jim McWerther

    How refreshing! A senator voting for what he believes is best for the country, party dogma notwithstanding. Good for you Senator Coburn. I may not often agree with your position, but this does earn you my respect.

    December 5, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
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