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. Jose Bernier

    I congratulate Congressman Coburn for its leadership traits and professionalism. He should be the Speaker of the House instead of Mr. Boehner who has constantly demostrated to Americans a second class leadership, poor judgement, and influenced by a few. Thank you sir!

    December 6, 2012 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  2. Name Margo King

    At some point it became apparent that the middle class families and the poorer families have reached their fiscal cliff and are tired. We are not the foot rest of the rich. Senator Tom Coburn is acknowledging what The President has said,"We are going to have to work together, regardless of your party."Social Security,unemployment,Medicaid,etc is 75% covered by middle class and poor families. Wise up people and speak out. If that is what we have to do that is what we have to do.

    December 6, 2012 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  3. Bobby

    Some folks need to realize this is not socialist, neither a conspirancy to go after them. In fact the purest Capitalism always provides this kind of solutions which are just simply proportional to the income. We've had tax brackets for years and we also agree on micro-systems like tipping, where we're basically giving a little more than what we should because it helps the server, and keeps the system moving. I am all about free enterprise and personal growth as far as oportunities and success, but we have to go back to the way we used to be as a nation, generous, caring and yes driven by success but never by greed, thats the key to this world economy – we all have to pitch in, and i personally don't mind giving a little more if I can spare it.

    December 6, 2012 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  4. charles

    I give my humble thanks to.Mr. Coburn for his courage. We can not afford any moe of they same old thing in Washington. Our futre, and the image of the nation are forever changed because of all of the infighting.

    December 6, 2012 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  5. P

    Damn you senator, stick to your principles. Tax rate increases does nothing but push the agenda that the rich are vilians. What happened to this country, Part of the american dream is to grow up and work hard to become wealthy not
    work less than 30 hrs a week and recieve govt assistance!

    December 6, 2012 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  6. Sumguy2006

    OBAMA: What we said was give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking tax rates. It could simply be accomplished by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions and engaging in a tax reform process that could lower rates generally while broadening the base.

    December 6, 2012 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  7. Pablo

    Yeah, we'll backup tax increases for the rich as long as you also backup and essential tax increase for the poor, that is, start denying more people access to funds that assure they aren't left on the streets, that they have food to eat and shelter to protect them. That is what they want when they want entitlement reform, to take from the poor what few crumbs the corporate government throws their way. It's time to start talking about the poor, not treating entitlements as simply something evil. If you're so bothered by having to throw crumbs to the poor, then start ALL people off with equal education opportunities, not in GHETTO schools only funded by the local tax base; that's not the kids' fault. Aren't we all Americans? If so, shouldn't we work together, instead of starting some segments of society (the children) handicapped? TAX THE RICH even more. THEN increase funding for education and training for those left behind by a greedy society. Only then will be be able to ethically cut entitlements. Didn't that Jesus guy say things like "Feed the poor" and "Care for the sick?" Don't most Americans claim to be his followers? Then the answers are quite simple.

    December 6, 2012 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  8. Monica K

    This is certainly a Republican to keep!! The ones that are die hard no tax jerks....well, their bubble is breaking. They will be blamed if we don't get a deal. Romney lost my vote when he said it was "fair" to tax him at 14% when The average person without investments is paying much higher tax rates. Just go back to the rates of the 90s ...everyone will win. Bush did this to our country and his party should be doing everything in its power to correct it. Republicans used to be the party of "fair". What the hell happened?

    December 6, 2012 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  9. Good Grief Charlie Brown

    At last, a Republican who puts country before party.
    Who's next?

    December 6, 2012 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  10. P

    Wake up america! Walmart is scaling back non-management jobs to less than 30 hrs, many others are too, thanks Obamacare. Now more taxes, i dont care if they are wealty or not, we as a country need to say its enough! What will we do when all the jobs are gone and we have no more wealth in this country, vote demoncrat? thats there plan, remember that.

    December 6, 2012 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  11. Eric

    I'm a Democrat and one percenter. I support the three percentage point increase in my taxes, point blank.

    December 6, 2012 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  12. Donaize

    With all the rhetoric on both sides of the political aisle, it would be nice for the definition of "very wealthy" to be defined BECAUSE $250,000 isn't the "very wealthy" -

    December 6, 2012 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  13. P

    EBT (food stamps) now being accepted at your local catering company, make sure your next party is Government Paid! think im kidding, look it up!

    December 6, 2012 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  14. Nick

    (A) Who cares, it will never pass the House; and (B) A July 2011 quote from none other than Barack Obama himself: "What we said was give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking taxes–tax rates, but could simply be accomplished by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions and engaging in a tax reform process that could have lowered rates generally while broadening the base."

    So obviously Obama does believe that sufficient revenue could be obtained by the proposal the Republicans have put forth. Or was this one more example of Obama doing not what is good for the country, but what is politically expedient for Barack Obama?

    December 6, 2012 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  15. Adam

    Why is it always the working man's problem when the government overspends? You took in last year's taxes to pay for last year's expenses. This is why we have a budget. If you're over budget, spend less.

    December 6, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  16. Ryan

    It's pretty great watching this "defend the 1% at all costs" position the Republicans have had for years becoming politically harmful to stand by.

    December 6, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  17. Name

    Its not a man who is unreasonable who can understand what is at stake here. Some congressional leaders want to keep the revenue interest of 2 percent of America above the squalid interest of the other 98 percent, as if we are not watching and paying attention. I say felief them of their voter elected responsibilities.

    December 6, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  18. BailOutBob

    Senators like Schumer need to step up and away from the President's dogmatic stance to help find some common ground.  The President's intransigence and obsession with the $250,000 figure is not part of any real negotiation. Schumer should know that  income of $250,000 in New York City does not make you a millionaire or "rich"–not even close. 

    December 6, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  19. brian in DC

    Ok, now what are the spending cuts?

    December 6, 2012 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  20. Carlos

    Finally, a little bit of good news that we might have real negotiations, where both sides will give some to get a deal good for America (and I said both sides, extreme left is going to have to give in some too). we should as voters keep a count of those representatives that are more loyal to one individual and the special interest he represents, namely Norquis, than the country, and using this lone ranger Norquis' own words, make sure they are voted out of congress.

    December 6, 2012 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  21. Buckhippo

    Just like a question on an exam, there is only one best answer. If they fail this test, we the people will suffer the consequences. No wonder so many people are trying to leave America for other countries with a much more straight forward governance.

    December 6, 2012 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  22. Chief

    Great reasonable gentleman!

    December 6, 2012 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  23. t-man

    All of us will have to make sacrifices to end the deficit. I have to balance my budget every 2 weeks. The Congress and federal government must balance the budget now, no matter how costly or painful. Anything less than a balanced budget spells doom for us as a country. Get rid of politics and balance the budget Now! Anything less is Fiscal Suicide.

    December 6, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  24. Mike

    How convenient the GOP wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest now that the American people know that if we go over the fiscal cliff they'd be paying alot more vs having making the deal in the first place. GOP = GREEDY OLD Party

    December 6, 2012 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  25. Nick

    At last some sanity in the GOP ranks.

    December 6, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
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