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. Liz the First

    Wow. a sane republican in government. too bad he's pretty much alone in that party of moronic traitors.

    December 5, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  2. Leopold Stotch

    We are all doomed. Obama is going to make sure that everyone is unemployed soon.

    December 5, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  3. IvotedforObama

    Funny how the CONservative "Christians" avoid the part of the Bible where Jesus said, "Render unto caesar what is caesar's and unto God what is God's" If Caesar want's 39% tax rate then they should comply.

    December 5, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  4. lloyd roberts

    Coburn is a practical man. Something these young, spoiled Tea Partiers don't understand because they grew up wit practically no liabilities except college loans, which were backed by the government only. No hardship really, modern Americans. Best off lot in history. Coburn on the other hand is an adult.

    December 5, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  5. FloridaRes

    Finally a member of the GOP is willing to stop sticking it to the middle class and make the wealthy pay their fair share. Let's see more GOP members of Congress doing what is best for America and not just the wealthy and Grover Norquist (who made him boss – I don't remember him on any ballot?)

    A former member of the GOP

    December 5, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  6. David Friedman

    An honest Repuglican?
    Thought I would never see the day....
    ObamaCares!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 5, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  7. TigersClaw

    Romney's defeat has now exposed the deep cleavage between reasonable Republicans who recognize they were not the only people elected, and the tea party ideologues who believe compromise to get things done is somehow evil. The only question is whether the tea party just dies out or splits off entirely from the Republican party.

    December 5, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  8. Penny Wright

    OMG! A Republican who wants to raise taxes on the idle rich!

    December 5, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  9. Name

    Thank God! I was seriously going to give up on the Republican Party forever. It's good to see that some are still concerned about fiscal responsibility. They've drifted so far right in the last 20 years or so that they have become an embarrassment. PLEASE consider casting your lot in with Senator Coburn Congress!!! America needs you! Not Grover's fantasy quest pledge!

    December 5, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  10. Philojazz

    Capital gains rates, anyone? The good Senators from Maine should push this, as they seem to be reasonably sane.

    December 5, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  11. Moonbeam

    Few people realize that the small business owners who include their business income on their personal tax returns are the very group the Reagan administration targeted with the 1986 Tax Reform Act. Individuals could no longer deduct credit card interest, their medical deduction requirement went up, they lost the income averaging provision, and they could not longer take certain deductions for a vacation home unless it was primarily for rental purposes. I think that's how Reagan managed to fund the earned income tax credit for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $18,000 - by making the upwardly mobile middle class and small, unincorporated businessman pay for it, while at the same time creating a corporate welfare state. So it's quite ironic that the Republican party now claims to be interested in protecting small businesses who are in the very same category as those they targeted under Reagan by taking away some of their valuable tax deductions and exemptions. Further, it was Obama that gave such people about 14 tax breaks. If more people were familiar with those Code changes, they would have a better overall picture of what's really going on.

    December 5, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  12. Reggie from LA

    I will back off the economic explanation of why it's wiser to take the route of allowing the tax cuts to expire for the wealthy in arithmetic context. Too time consuming. Look at it from common sense. It looks absolutely ridiculous how all this resistance exposes the hold the rich have on our political leaders. I mean, get real. They are not going to spread the wealth any more than most of us will give away money. Let's be honest. "but the wealthy pay more taxes". Umm, dumb people. THEY HOLD MOST OF THE COUNTRY'S FINANCIAL CAPITAL!!! They SHOULD pay the taxes on it like most of us already do, hence, more taxes. Why should they be able to continually extend tax cuts that should have been axed upon expiration. I don't care what side of the aisle your thinking comes from...they've expired!

    December 5, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  13. SEGAL

    I am really impressed with Tom Coburn, he is a common sense guy, and I wish more people like him are at the helm of affairs in WASHINGTON!!

    December 5, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  14. Fiscal trench

    They're starting to cave. Took them long enough. They only care about being booted, boot them anyway!

    December 5, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  15. DC Fact Finder

    The tax rate hike proposed by President Obama will fund our government for 7 days.... period. It will do nothing to reduce the deficit or the debt. In fact, President Obama has proposed to eliminate the debt ceiling vote altogether giving him the unilateral power to keep borrowing with NO limitations or approvals needed. In 2008 then Senator Obama campaigned for President on a platform that called for more fiscal discipline in DC and a decrease in the debt. Obama led 47 Democratic senators to vote against an increase in the debt ceiling. It was somewhat hypocritical because the Democrats controlled both the House and Senate in George Bush's last 2 years and while Obama voted for the Bush budget, he then voted NOT to fund it... such is the man at the helm of our nation - driving into more deficits and debt

    December 5, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  16. lobo joe

    A Republican with courage and sense; he's obviously in the wrong party.

    December 5, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  17. DeepeThought

    New Gallup Poll: 53% of Democrats/Democrat leaners (and 23% Republican/Republican leaners) have a positive veiw of socialism. (That makes about 3/8 pf the entire population.)

    This IS where we are heading even though the socialist system has been proven defunct. I blame public education and the media.

    December 5, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  18. Jeff Cox

    Simpson-Bowles will get the chance it should have gotten last year, now that the Republicans are through playing games. Way to step up to the plate, Senator Coburn.

    December 5, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  19. Tony in St. Louis

    It's just amazing that these folks are slowly, ... but finally coming around to getting to the business of the American people. It's taken too long! But that's a later note. Kudo's to any and all of our elected lawmakers that choose country first. Thank you!

    December 5, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  20. JMBarrett

    Good for Coburn. I knew he could be reasonable and not a hand puppet to that idiot Norquist

    December 5, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  21. Easygoing7

    I suppose the scarier part is what his definition of "wealthier" versus wealthy is. Try telling a family with 4 children in any of the major metropolitan areas making 250k, that they are wealthy.

    December 5, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  22. Bart Flaster

    Meh... It's gonna take a lot moret han that.

    December 5, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  23. RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

    A sensible Republican. America, take note; this man is working for you, not against you. There is hope for the two party system, so long as the tea-bag extremists and John Birchers are not allowed to foment agitation.

    December 5, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  24. GWB

    And the Republibot wall continues to crumble. Time to kiss the no tax pledge goodbye, along with Grover.

    December 5, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  25. Ben

    Thank you Senator Coburn. You have class and guts!

    December 5, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
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