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. Dave

    Entitlement reforms is a nice way to to say senior citizens can eat dog food.

    December 5, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    We need senators and congressmen on both sides to look realistically to solve this problem, the problem is the lines drawn in the sand will make things worst in the long run. Of course ideology usually rules and the real losers are the average citizens of this country.

    December 5, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  3. truecon

    He should burn for this heresy

    December 5, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  4. Name

    We must work collectively to solve our fiscal problems in this great country that we have been the opportunity to live and work. Thank God for the USA.

    Keep in mind, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

    December 5, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  5. Phattee

    "....support higher tax rates on wealthier Americans as part of a broader deal..."

    The operative word here is DEAL. That's what TGOPers just don't seem to understand. Each side has to give on something.

    December 5, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  6. Paul Lawson

    Watch more of them crack ... lol. Embarrassment #2 next to the election. How did they think they could lose an election then pound away at their points they lost the election on? Republican conservatives are just plain stubborn! Iit would had cost them more election disappointment in 2014 if they don't diversify their standings. Now we get to see the real moderate Republicans wrestle themselves away from the conservatives that was heading them over the cliff to disaster.

    December 5, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  7. RICK WIND

    We need senators and congressmen on both sides to look realistically to solve this problem, the problem is the lines drawn in the sand will make things worst in the long run. Of course ideology usually rules and the real losers are the average citizens of this country.

    December 5, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  8. Franky

    Wow, so there are sensible Republicans left. If I was in this guys state I'd vote for him and I'm a democrat.

    December 5, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  9. N.Telly Gent

    Change is slow...never give up the faith. The faith that as humans we can come together despite any differences. Money is fleeting in serving one, the rich die just like the poor. Death is the great equalizer....when a wealthy person dies, they realize they are no different than that dirty bum they saw on the corner. Why wait till then to support your bretheren? Plus, these are not tax hikes...they are a restoration to pre-Bush rates.....its the elimination of the entitlement given to the rich.

    December 5, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  10. misands

    It's great to finally see some in the GOP putting people ahead of greed. Thank you Senators Colburn, Snowe, and Collins. You give hope that there are still some sane folks in the Republican Party.

    December 5, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. Mary Beth Shemeluk

    Probably afraid that us "Oakies" will vote him out of office. Not everyone in OK has oil and gas on our land to sell to the oil companies.

    December 5, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  12. FredInIT

    At least there's one GOPer that can think for themselves.

    December 5, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  13. Steve Lyons

    He needs to be fired.

    December 5, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  14. shawn shahpari

    beautiful! we are moving along as a nation. I'm so proud :)

    December 5, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  15. Thomas

    Republican Sen. Tom Coburn.

    Good for him , Isn't he a Dr ?

    He should be the Minority Leader of the Senate .

    December 5, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  16. iampraying

    I believe that more Republcans will follow his lead–be blessed sir!!!

    December 5, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  17. jinx88

    This is awesome, Mitch McConell where you at your party is caving in. LMAO

    December 5, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  18. ComSenseWiz

    Coburn already announced he would not run for another term so he does not have to deal with the "Wrath of Norquist". Notwithstanding, nice to see he's getting his mind right.

    December 5, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  19. Zwei Stein

    Thank you Senator Coburn. Finally, a voice of reason.

    December 5, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  20. allenwoll

    "Small Business" is a highly abused classification used to enable "tax-avoidance" bordering on - if indeed not encompassing - tax evasion.
    .
    "Small Business" should mean small business ! ! - NOT hundreds of employees tucked into obscure corporate corners & "broomclosets".

    December 5, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  21. Daniel

    ...and the stampede begins. Sorry Grover looks like these Senators and Representatives have finally realized these 'no compromise' positions just aren't helpful in Congress. Finally.

    December 5, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  22. Frank

    Coburn is actually a very smart guy who understands the math on deficit and debt reduction. And Senators Snowe and Collins are old-school moderate Republicans with common sense. And Senator Collins is correct-the Buffett Rule as to a minimum tax on those "earning" over a million dollars a year should be reintroduced immediately in the next Congress.

    December 5, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  23. abbydelabbey

    So, Coburn grew a pair and is not letting ideology stand in the way? Snowe and Collins seem to going in the correct direction well. Now - will other Republicans work on behalf of America or will they continue to serve their own self-interests and the interests of corporate America?

    December 5, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  24. Reince Your Priebus Daily

    Adults understand that Democracy requires compromise.

    House Republicans.....not so much.

    December 5, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  25. OldMo

    Forget new, higher taxes, do you think Buffett is ever going to pay the taxes he owes now? How about Bill Gates, Oprah, various Hollyweird moguls/stars, Bruce Springsteen, Alex Baldwin, Jay Zizzle, the Clintons, etc., etc.?

    December 5, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
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