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. Lee Downie

    Go for it, Senator: push.

    December 5, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  2. Eric

    Holy crap. Hell hath frozen over. I actually think I agree with this man today.

    December 5, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  3. svann

    An honest Republican? Omg there may be hope for the party. Lets see if he gets excommunicated for this..

    December 5, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  4. Johnny5

    I'm with Coburn, sound judgment and his consitutants should be proud. Raise rates now and you'll have the time to surgically cut out loopholes and deductions after this crisis is over. On top of that we can also take a knife (very efficient knife) to social entitlements that are a growing concern. Everythings on the table in my mind ontop of that lets take that same knife and cut some defense spending where it needs cut. Everyone has skin in this game or it wont work. Im an independant and would love to see an all in approach to this countries spending and revenue problem yes we have both. taxes gathered maybe the highest in history but so has our dollars worth gone less over the past decade. we need tough choices and we need to agree non-partisan about it. You may not like what I say but thats your right. I want to see everything on the table. that is all haha John~

    December 5, 2012 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  5. Guest

    I have a personal budget and bottom line. I do not have maids, drivers, etc. I live in a modest house, send my kids to state colleges, I work 12-15 hours a day 6 days a week running my business. If you raise my taxes and I can't make my mortgage (i.e., my bottom line) I will be forced to layoff personnel. Simple fact. Chew on that 98%'rs. If the government suddenly took your money away, what would you do? You would have to cut back on something right? Well, as a business owner, I will cut back, but those cuts may include personnel.

    BTW – try going to school for 20 years instead of 12, never taking a government loan and working 3 jobs while going to school to pay your way through...THAT IS THE AMERICA I KNOW. THAT IS WHAT AMERICANS ARE MADE OF, not the snot nosed little whiners that want free stuff.

    December 5, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  6. HincEtInde

    It is slowly sinking in.......

    December 5, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  7. Fourleaf Tayback

    Republicans have always been more reasonable and compromising than this President. Go GOP! Show your leadership. Hold ground and make the President stop his reckless spending! GOP rocks!!

    December 5, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  8. Debbie M.

    Finally, a Republican who sees the light. If only the rest of them would get on board. It won't matter if the two percent support you, it's the other ninety eight percent that will be voting you out.

    December 5, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  9. dave

    we are on a non-sustainable path of spending. Spending! Spending! Spending! If we were running a business there is no way the CEO and the CFO would NOT have been FIRED! We must cut spending or we will never pull out of this nose-dive! But the Socialist-in-Chief will never do it wiliingly!

    December 5, 2012 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  10. Vader

    Thank you Senator. While we may argue about the "right" way to move toward a balanced budget, having the courage to acknowledge that any proposal should include revenue enhancement (yes, tax increases) is definitely a step in the right direction. Now, if the others (Democrats included) would get serious instead of protecting their "turf"...

    December 5, 2012 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  11. Jason

    Wow! Somebody from Oklahoma with common sense!

    December 5, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  12. NoCommentCNN

    That's the people's government at work. Never thought of a tax they could not love.
    Our founding father's revolted from England for less reason than what we have today. They spend 16 trillion dollars we don't have and now want everyone to suffer for it.
    How about cutting spending and balancing the budget first? Or better yet where is the 2012 budget? Never been passed this year.
    Our war spending is 15 times higher than the rest of world combined but you will never see a cut in their budget, only hard working Americans will have to cut theirs.

    December 5, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  13. ed

    Good , keep on negotiating you have 26 days to come out with a plan. I am a Republican who during the last election voted for a democrat Senator and President because like the other Republican I believed that my party tried to destroy Obama at the expense of America.

    If the lower house try to pull that same stunt again, on the next election my Republican congressman will be up for reelection and I can assure you I will vote democrat.

    December 5, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  14. John D

    Y'know, "broaden the base" actually means "increase the proportion of taxes paid by people with less income."

    ...The skill with which Republicans are able to rebrand unpopular policies never ceases to amaze.

    December 5, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  15. hotpatata

    I'm guessing the GOP leadership's jaws dropped at least as far as mine did when I saw Coburn's face under this headline. This is "Dr. No"! Biggest body blow to the GOP's position yet.

    December 5, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  16. Rick C.

    Finally, the good of the country is coming before political loyalty.

    December 5, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  17. babs

    Glad to see this. Hope the tide is turning.

    December 5, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  18. TImhoff

    There is a lot that can be done to reform programs. Medicare, medicaid and healthcare for instance, and example, why are survivors of breast cancer charged (and insurers pay) for a whole bilateral mammogram when in reality these women only get a half a mammogram. Why are they not charged half? This is blatant waste. Changing things like this would save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    December 5, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  19. Neil Samuels

    Traitor!!!! You have defiled the great misanthropic wizard of Omnipotent slime and his Tea Party caryatids! Your name has been heretofore razed from roster of all future ballots. So let it be said! So let it be done! Amen!

    December 5, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  20. Ben

    Raise rates... Take away deductions... SAME THING.

    Boehner and Obama are splitting hairs pretending that there is a difference.

    December 5, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  21. Dan

    This is a hopeful sign, but Republicans in the house in safe seats are the biggest obstacle to progress.

    December 5, 2012 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  22. America

    Does anybody in America besides me believe that they already give enough of their paycheck to the govermant to disburse ? Even the bg lottery winner won $293 million and after taxes received $136..,, This is pathetic... SPENDING is the problem not the tax rates!! Most of ignorant voters do not realize that Obamacare is a huge tax increase on everyone that Obama had be effective after the election so people will not have felt the pain yet in their pocketbooks.

    December 5, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  23. Xchairman

    Senator coburns move is a wise move

    December 5, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  24. ALAN FISCHER, SR.

    Obama is at his best when he is giving money away–such as last week–$170,000,000.00 to Myanmar

    December 5, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  25. sparky

    This coburn will now be called a rhino by the right. you know someone who doesn t believe in everything his party wants him to believe and they call liberals communist.

    December 5, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
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