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)

    The Republican plan offers no specifics and independent analysis shows that the poor and middle class will be adversely affected by what is specified in the plan. They offer no compromise. No deal.
    This 'fiscal cliff' was created by the Republicans. this would not be happening if the same people that elected President Obama showed up at the polls during the 2010 midterm election.
    ...but I digress...
    the bottom line is, republicans can take their proposal and shove it!

    December 4, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  2. Rudy NYC


    @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
    Wrong. The past four years have seen the White House initially offer compromise solutions, which the GOP accepted....and which the GOP then stepped back away from...and from where the GOP made even more hard right demands. I know you don't believe a word of any of that. So if you do not want to believe me, then you can believe John Boehner when he said about the last round of Xmas time tax/budget negotiations. After it was over in 2010, Boehner said, "I got 98% of what I wanted." Which included extending the Bush Tax Cuts on wealthiest Americans and sustaining the capital gains rate, which is not talkied about enough.

    December 4, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  3. one of the few taxpayers left

    It is amazing to me how this country has changed. There is absolutely no shame today in demanding that people who worked harder, worked smarter, took risk, sacrificed, succeeded give the money that they earned to people who are unwilling to make those same sacrifices. A century ago, people would never have taken handouts because of pride – a value lost in todays society. Pride has been replaced by entitlement. You owe me a job (even though I have minimal education – its hard work – and no skills – and I want to make a lot of money for my lack of skills). You owe me medical care. You owe me a home. You owe me a living after I retire. This country is heading straight toward mediocrity as those people still pulling the yoke get tired not only of the giving, but the demands of those contributing nothing.

    December 4, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  4. Scott

    I am not surprised the plan failed. Obama is not interested in reaching an agreement, he just wants to push around the Republicans, after the last four years Obama is trying to get even. Increasing the taxes on the rich, the very ones that create jobs and invest in this country is insane. Besides that little bit will not make a difference when Obama and his lackeys give out billions an year in food stamps, and other social programs. It is no wonder Obama is known as the Food Stamp King. Rather then trying to help people find jobs he would rather just give them everything free. Its easy to get to get elected when you give away free stuff. If this country goes over the cliff, this is one middle class tax person that will put the blame squarely on Obama. There are others that feel the same way.

    December 4, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  5. rs

    Boehner's proposal is $150 billion LESS than it was before the election in regards to new revenue. Whose not serious NOW?

    Look, GOP, get this through your heads. The "temporary" Bush tax cuts on the rich ARE DONE. We can no longr pay for them, they aren't worth it. Set the rates BACK to where they were before your "cut taxes and spend" adventure.

    December 4, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  6. Political Agnostic

    Thanks to the radical members of BOTH parties the country is suffering. The electorate sent a strong message in November, compromise is a necessity and anyone not willing to compromise for the good of the nation will suffer the consequences for thier actions.

    The Democrats seem to be willing to compromise more than the Republicans. At this point the Republican party is hamstrung because of their adhearance to the Grover Norquist pledge and the desire to placate the top 2%'ers. Continuing to hold to these views will result in the end od the Republican party, the disolution is already apparent from reading the stories in the news. The poles show the the public is already blaming the Republicans for the mess the country is in more than the Democrats. With a ratio of 98% to 2% maybe the Republicans shouldook at compromising on some of their more radical beliefs.

    December 4, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  7. rightospeak

    I think that they need to dump the whole Congress and Senate over the cliff to get us out of endless wars, borrowing money from Communist China, to bring back our offshored jobs, to close our borders.They made the mess we are in and many should be tried for treason. if John Boehner, Nanci Palosi and a few others were tried for treason maybe things would get moving .

    December 4, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  8. Larry L

    This is the same old song from the GOP – no specifics and protection for the wealthy. The offer" sounds like Mitt Romney's vision for economic recovery – long on generalizations and short on details. Republicans ARE the party for the rich only. They couldn't make it any clearer.

    December 4, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  9. jpmichigan

    Obama hs a win/win proposion in play. If the Republicans cave in, obama comes out of it smelling like a rose and will haunt the Republicans for caving in. If we go over the "fiscal cliff" everyones rates return, more taxes paid (more to spend) and the Republicans will be the loosers for they increased taxes on the middle-class. Obama and the Democrats will then pass new laws lower middle-class rate and other bills in his REPEATED BUDGET from 2011, if he can get the votes. Obama and Democrats want to go over the cliff!! In 4 years Obama has learned NOTHING about leadership or governing, his bullying tactic that he used in Chicago mandate his actions. This is not what he was voted in to do, but then he doesn't know how th handle compromise or neogotiation, om a one on one bases, everything he promotes is do through the media or others. Once a community orgainized, one will always practice as a community organized. Community organizers tell you how to get what you want, but do not dirty their hands to get it.

    December 4, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  10. harry long

    Sen Coburn is an idiot. His explanation of how his proposal to limit deductions for the wealthy is better than raising the marginal tax level is unreal. He actually believes that reducing income through doing away with tax deductions is more stimulatory than raising the marginal rate. Reduced income is reduced income no matter how it is achieved. Raising the Marginal Rate is an easy calculation, but reduction of multiple tax deductions is more difficult to calculate and will achieve the same end. Aren't we lucky to have so many stupid people running our country.

    December 4, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  11. SE

    Jail the GOP.

    December 4, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  12. Larry L

    @DC Observer

    Obama is trying to bloody the GOP in hopes of winning control of the House at the mid term elections
    ================================================================================================ Gee... Where would he get an idea like that? Could it be he copied the minutes from the meeting Mitch McConnell held on Inauguration Day in 2009 when Republicans pledged to obstruct all progress to set them up for the 2010 midterm? No... this about what the American people want and will get – or we go the fiscal cliff together and blame the Republicans for holding the 95% hostage – again.

    December 4, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. jpmichigan

    Increasing rates, without limiting deductions the rich will continue to pay less then middle-class. To Obama , who hates rich people, even though he strives to be one, he is punshing the wealth.

    December 4, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  14. Ancient Texan

    Just curious....I understood that Obama's class warfare scheme was to win an election by dividing the country almost down dead center and since the segment that was dependent on the government was large,it would help his re-election.
    But he is still intent on keeping the split as a way of governing and I don't see how this helps his agenda in the long run or further his agenda.

    December 4, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  15. SE


    Even people with only a casual sense of the events of the past 4 years readily identify the Republican Party (with their racism, birther idiocy,huge millionaire donors and PACS and super PACS, made-up news and conspiracy theories) as the "Party of No". Everyone know it is the GOP that absolutely refuses to negoitiate- even when they have lost. They are hopeless fools who will take the rap for protecting the 2% over the 98%.

    December 4, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. farmwife1972

    Why not raise the taxes on the rich? Because the Republicans will not hear of it. They say that the rich create jobs. Well, they have had over four years to do it with their tax cuts and they have not done a single thing to create jobs. The rich are only interested in themselves. Close loopholes for the rich and the middle class and poor will lose the some of the same deductions. It is the same old Republican thing, make the poor and middle class pay for the rich. Boehner needs to go along with all his cronies that have signed Grover Norquist's pledge. Republicans would just as soon throw the poor people out in the street and let them die. They are just an inconvenience to them. I am so thankful that our President is standing his ground on the taxes.

    December 4, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  17. Ancient Texan

    Liberals insist that since the president won, he also was elected absolute dictator and can rule uncontested. The Congress also had an election and the members that were elected and re-elected also won because of the faith of the voters in their district that they would vote the will of the people that sent them there.

    December 4, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  18. SE

    "Punishing the wealth" hat's funny. No, he is asking them to pay their fair share (remember when the top rate was 87% on the 1950s?). He just doesn't coddle them like the GOP does.

    December 4, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  19. Joseph

    Now that both sides agree that tax rates will increase for the top 2% (one way or another), it's time to keep tax rates from rising on the Middle Class. It seems that the Republicans are stalling and will raise the rates on the Middle Class. That's not a bargaining chip. That's political suicide.

    December 4, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |

    I already pay so much in taxes that my refund is $0. Let's go over the cliff and give the dims what they want – HIGHER TAXES! Hahaha! Gotta pay for those Obamafones!

    December 4, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  21. Chupacabra

    The gop plan is too 'open ended' and no detail in it which will lead to disaray later on....HANG IN THERE OBOAMA!!!!

    December 4, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  22. DJ

    GOP will be blamed...better let those taxes increase!!

    December 4, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  23. SE

    Ancient Texan-

    See, right off you don't get it. It isn't "class warfare" it is a return to sanity.Tax rates on everyone- and especially the rich HAVE NEVER BEEN LOWER. He is talking about going back to a itme before the GOP's "Cut Taxes and Spend" behavior of the last decade.

    December 4, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |

    I love seeing the dims here calling for higher taxes on those who create jobs. I hope the first jobs cut are the DIMS!!

    December 4, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  25. Lynda/Minnesota

    To quote John Boehner "I'd be flabbergasted ... I tell you, flabbergasted" if there is a GOPer posting who actually cared whether or not the tax rates on the 1% were raised or not.

    December 4, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
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