December 3rd, 2012
09:58 PM ET
10 years ago

Coburn sees fiscal cliff looming if Democrats reject Boehner proposal

(CNN) - If President Barack Obama steps away from the Republican deficit-reduction proposal advanced Monday by House Speaker John Boehner, "we will go over the 'fiscal cliff,'" predicted Sen. Tom Coburn.

That said, the Oklahoma Republican added he doesn't want to see the negotiations continue to play out on the front pages or at campaign-style events.

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"All this jockeying in public - we need real leadership right now. There shouldn't be anything offered in public," Coburn said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront." "What it should be is the president and Speaker Boehner in a room and nobody comes out of the room until this is solved."

"I'm okay to compromise even on some of my issues if in fact we'll solve the problem," he continued. "But what we have is a game being played ... for the extreme right wing and the extreme left wing in this country rather than coming together and leading and solving the problem."

Coburn was appointed by the top Senate Republican to Obama's 2010 bi-partisan deficit reduction panel chaired by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles. He was also a member of the informal group known as the "Gang of Six," which sought to write deficit reduction legislation.

Boehner's proposal was blasted by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer for failing to "meet the test of balance," in particular on the issue of tax increases. On that sticking point, Republicans - including Coburn - favor increasing federal government revenues through elimination of tax code loopholes and limiting or capping deductions. Obama maintains that an increase in the tax rates paid by wealthy individuals must be part of a deal.

Some non-partisan analysts, including the Congressional Research Service, have said the increased revenues from handling deductions and loopholes alone would fall short of the targets.

"I've been studying this for seven years. That's baloney," Coburn replied. "It's easy to get $800 billion out of the wealthy in this country by limiting deductions and taking away options that are specifically benefit only the well off in this country."

He and other Republicans have described Boehner's proposal as similar to one Bowles, a Democrat, advanced in the fall of 2011. In addition to maintaining the Bush-era tax breaks on all income levels, it would accomplish $2.2 trillion in savings, among them $600 billion in non-entitlement spending cuts and $800 billion in "health savings."

Bowles said in a Monday statement that the "approach outlined in the letter Speaker Boehner sent to the President does not represent the Bowles-Simpson plan, nor is it the Bowles plan."

"I'm certain that if this is not good enough for the White House, we will go over the fiscal cliff," Coburn said, "because this is a compromise on taxes, this is a compromise on mandatory spending, and it's a compromise on discretionary spending over what the select committee had debated."

Filed under: Fiscal Cliff • Tom Coburn
soundoff (181 Responses)
  1. What election were you watching

    I'm almost certain that "We The People" voted to re-elect this president to another term in the Oval Office. So I'm sure that means he is the boss and we like his ideas concerning the economy. So why are these fake patriots insisting that this president should cater to their shenanigans? The lead line should read "Over the cliff if the Republican rejects The President's proposal . . . He is the president elected by the people for the people and of the people.

    December 4, 2012 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  2. ppppuuuuuu

    i dont blame coburn for wanting it behind closed doors, out in public, the country sees the obstructionism of the
    republican party. 2014 2014 2014!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 4, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  3. blf83

    Oklahoman REp. Coburn is not known for his cogent, serious thinking. Indeed, he is an embarrassment to Oklahomans. Perhaps he should be the sacrifice thrown over the cliff to appease the fiscal gods of the 1%.

    December 4, 2012 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    From what I have heard, Bowles doesn't think Boehner and his plan really work. My hope is that the two of them move toward the middle and get this fixed.

    December 4, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  5. jdun

    Closing loopholes that can be opened back up in the 1st bill out of the House is not raising taxes on the rich. It also takes a year to get money that way- raising rates gets tax revenue right away and it can't be changed by Congress in other legislation. Also, we are not going to touch social security now, or privatize medicare- so maybe there won't be deal. All Boehner did was offer Mitt Romney's plan to the White House- dead on arrival. I do agree that there needs to be private talks, but last time that happened Boehner took it back to the House and they wouldn't listen to him, what has changed? Maybe the new House in January will be more reasonable.

    December 4, 2012 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  6. DC Observer

    Obama is trying to bloody the GOP in hopes of winning control of the House at the mid term elections so he can push through a ton of socialist programs with total control of government. Reid is Obama's accomplice in the Senate trying to change the filibuster rules so Obama's programs can sail through unchallenged Obama is willing to push the country over the cliff and into recession to accomplish this. It is a dangerous game, but then again, Obama is reckless with the purse strings of the nation. Watch for the GOP to vote to extend the Bush tax cuts for ALL through June and in return ask Obama for his deficit reduction plan, This would flip the issue on its head and put Obama in a box because if Obama rejects this, the Dems just might get the blame for raising taxes on the Middle Class and throwing the nation into turmoil and recession --and another stock market crash which ruins the retirement funds of everyone

    This is what happens when you have no leadership and a walking, talking teleprompter reader as President

    December 4, 2012 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  7. Dan

    Your choice, break your bond to your unelected leader and get on with business of this country. You people that gave this pledge do not deserve to be reelected to represent the people of this country and should be charged with treason.

    December 4, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    Looming is not the word.......certainty, is the word.

    December 4, 2012 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  9. SC

    I don't know how this Oklahoman becomes a medical doctor in the 1st place. $800 billion is a drop in the bucket when we are talking about in excess of 15-trillion debt. We haven't even counted the continued borrowing while reducing the debt by $800 billion.

    December 4, 2012 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  10. Dr. K. Wignarajah

    Mr. Coburn must have the IQ of a baboon or he is a fool. Perhaps what he says that he has studied for 7 years is something that a 7 year old can learn in 1 hour. How do you respond to the fact that Mr. Bowles himself said presented as the Bowles plan is NOT his plan. Mr. Boehner is lying and for this both he and you should be locked up for good.

    December 4, 2012 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  11. Marcia

    So Coburn knows the President campaigned on and won by promising tax increase on millionaires-over 60% of countryt wants that but the Republican plan does not offer that-so they are NOT serious and seem to want the fiscal cliff-they value their Norquist pledge more than the country and their own voters

    December 4, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  12. Nietodarwin

    Of course we will go off the cliff. This GOP, (especially THIS House, still here until Jan. 20) is made up of mentally ill people.
    Obama; "Here is a JOBS BILL, pass it, let's restore our roads,bridges,economy." GOP response; "Abortion abortion abortion!!!!!!" GOP; "Let's vote to repeal Obamacare. Let's vote ONE MORE TIME to repeal Obamacare." (They voted 33 times, on OUR TIME, being paid by OUR TAXES......33 times yes 33 times. ) Einstein's definition of INSANITY was " doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." This GOP House LITERALLY meets that definition of insanity.

    December 4, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  13. IvotedforObama

    I already got my parachute when I am thrown off the cliff on 31 Dec.

    December 4, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  14. Nick

    Obama planned to hit the cliff all along – that's why he put forth a laughable "deficit reduction" plan that didn't even touch the source of our biggest issues. Now he can come in next year and propose a tax cut, hoping to unseat conservatives in the mid-terms. He gains, the rest of us lose no matter what. I don't know why anyone would expect differently from someone who rejected his own deficit reduction committee's plan. Liberals need to step up and explain how 8 days of government funding via the Obama tax rate increase offsets $1.2 trillion annual deficits, and why a tax rate increase is any diferent than other methods to increase revenues. Problem is, they can't.

    December 4, 2012 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  15. ATL Guy

    I thought the Tea (Traitors Endangering America) Party wanted no more closed door meetings and to have all negotiations done on CSPAN? Now when the Republicans have to say what cuts they're going to make, they want to do everything in secret?

    December 4, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  16. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    So, once again the Republican version of "Compromise" is "we will stand fast and you must come over to our side". The truly pathetic thing about this whole fiscal cliff crisis is the people who will be most affected by it are the ones who keep reelecting these obstructionists based on the belief that they are protecting their "way of life". In actuality, these self-same Republican representatives want to take away all the benefits that the people who keep voting for them receive.

    December 4, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  17. dalla

    Lets go over the cliff. Lets have the fight now, while there is still time to save the country. Go back on the gold standard so that they cant just keep printing paper ... I guess thats money. Better get a wheelbarrow to carry the inflated paper money at the grocery store.

    December 4, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  18. Babyboomer

    @Nietodarwin. I totally agree.

    December 4, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  19. wgf

    I would rather pay more in taxes than allow the wealthy to continue to receive Bush's tax break, and allow the GOP to successfully protect their financial backers. The elimination of the Bush tax cuts for the upper income bracket should be a requirement for any deal, even if it means going over the fiscal cliff. The GOP has no special insight into how the economy works - it's their policies that got us here. Protecting the "job creators" (what an awful term) does not create jobs - and this is being said by a job creator.

    December 4, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    Donkey Party

    The Republicans refuse to compromise, all they're offering is the Ryan / Romney plan, which America soundly rejected. 2014 is the year the GOP becomes extinct.

    Meanwhile, Romney is back to doing nothing productive for America. Strange that GOP can't seem to find a leader to help them with these much needed negotiations with President Obama. Well, if we look past Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and FOX News, that is. THEY are very willing to send middle class America into the history Book of Extinction.

    And for what? Quite simply ... to appease their anger at losing to President Obama ... twice.

    December 4, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  21. plain&simple

    And the beat goes on!!! Behind closed doors,or out in the open doesn't change the bottom line. The people(VOTERS) want movement. Republicans need to let tea party get its own party and quit catering to the fringe! Understand people WILL vote again in two years and yes we will hold congress accountable for not following the will of the majority....that's what democracy does! The extreme will be just that and the middle is growing ,do the math!!!!

    December 4, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    "deliver the copy of my official congressional portrait to my home in Texas."

    It would be interesting to know if Dick Armey's portrait was taken during his "tri-corner-tea-bags-hanging-from-his-hat" days.

    December 4, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  23. Richard

    Question for everyone. Why amid all of the deficit cures suggested is the military budget not on the table?
    Many are proposing reductions in medicare and social security, while our military budget is 711 BILLION
    with 196,248 troops deployed in 150 countries (Wikileaks 11/12). Our military budget of 711 billion is more
    than the next top 10 countries combined! A 10% reduction of 71 billion would help, but to me it seems we
    need more like a 300 billion in military expendure reduction. That would go a long way in curing our
    deficit problem, without reducing vetrans benefits.

    December 4, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  24. YoungConservative

    @Joe from CT, not Lieberman – Its perplezing that you refuse to recognize that our President is just as unwilling to compromise on a balanced apporach as the "evil,rich, ignorant, (insert cliche adjective)" consevatives . The most facinating aspect of your statement is that you are going to blame the united voice of 242 men and women that are responsible for the budget(not even counting the Dems that support a balanced approach) instead of the one man that refuses to listen (like a spoiled child).

    December 4, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Let's Thelma and Louise these mothers Mr. President!
    Parachute at the ready! Balls of steel!
    Forward! Jump!

    December 4, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
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