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. SE

    Ancient texan-

    Please explain the GOP's pervrse notion of prtectiung the rich from taxes.They've had 12 years to make a few jobs- that didn't happen; The budget surplus that existed when Bush started the wealthy welfare is long gone. What possible justification is there to wrap more cash around the rich? Is the GOP just vote-buying? What?

    December 4, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  2. Russ

    What part of "the Republicans lost the election and want Obama's plan" don't Republicans understand? Oh, that's right, they don't care what the majority wants, they only care about protecting their wealth and wealth of their rich campaign donors. They just snub their noses at the voters and keep on being the party of no even after they have been rejected by the country.

    December 4, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  3. I Could Have Been A Contendah

    After the republicans take 98% over the cliff on behalf of the 2%, the republican party will cease to exist.

    Good news for Libertarians, I suppose. Perhaps this is the break the "Green" party needs.

    December 4, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  4. tc

    What happened to keeping one's own money? I am middle class. It will not stop with "The Rich". If you want to feed your guilty souls, tax yourself and donate to the poor.

    December 4, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  5. Ancient Texan

    SE- No! You don't get it.It Has been CLASS WARFARE for two years and flowery terms don't change it. Lower taxes and a healthy economy produces more revenues than high taxes and a weak economy. John F. Kennedy found this approach to work extremely well and had huge gains in revenues. (he was a Democrat) It also worked for Reagan and George Bush had record revenues after the tax cuts. Don't believe me...research it yourself. Google it.

    December 4, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  6. Larry L

    @Ancient Texan

    Liberals insist that since the president won, he also was elected absolute dictator and can rule uncontested.
    ================================================================================================ Remember "W's" speech about "political capital" he made after the 2004 election? He won by a smaller margin yet used that "capital" to drive our economy into the ground. The President is using his "capital" to help the middle class.

    December 4, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  7. v_mag

    tc said: "What happened to keeping one's own money?"
    tc, the rich are different from the rest of us. They don't go to work and earn money. They make money off the work of others. Take the Walton family, each of whom is worth billions. How do they do it? For one thing, they keep wages extremely low. So low that their employees have to get assistance from the government to stay alive. In that way, the Waltons are Welfare Queens, taking advantage of not only their employees but also the tax payers, who have to pick up the tab for assistance to Wal-Mart employees. The money the Waltons have is money they stole.

    December 4, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  8. jnpa

    So is Coburn saying that is the GOP's final offer? How about side of the argument Senator – If the GOP doesn't accept the Dems offer than we will go over the cliff!

    December 4, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  9. Randy, San Francisco

    The GOP/Tea Party is imprinting in the minds of millions of voters that it is the party of the 1% rich and privileged. This notion will not be dispelled for generations to come.

    December 4, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  10. Future

    I am not in the 2% but I do not favor raising tax rates on anyone. The deficit problem is a result of spending giveaway programs by democrats that are not fully funded...They are 70% of the deficit. We need to address them rather than let the government determine how to spend more of our money whether you are in the 2% or not. Obama leads us further into Socialism. It is depressing that the youth of America do not understand Socialism and how it will destroy America from within. A system where working hard and getting ahead is bad. Just as the 2% are being demonized now..I know 2% people that started dirt poor me deserve what they get and not the government or me.

    December 4, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  11. w l jones

    After all these years the republican have not learnt for every dollar government spend it create six more dollar in economic activity.

    December 4, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |

    The media blames the GOP for everything anyways, so let's go off that cliff and give the dims what they want – HIGHER TAXES!!

    December 4, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  13. Ken in MD

    Nice proposal, Boehner. Let the poor and the elderly go without so the rich don't have to pay 4% higher taxes. Nice to know who you really represent.

    December 4, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. Observer

    I'm still trying to figure out what options the president has if this thing goes over the edge, does he know something we don't, when it comes to Presidential powers, GW gave the office almost unlimited authority, could he have somthing up his sleeve, I wonder. If the republicans are willing to destroy the economy will its just getting its feet back under it, then they will have shown they are really incapable of thinking about America as a whole society, which will burn them bad in the end. Get her done, or get out of Washington.

    December 4, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  15. Sniffit

    "SE- No! You don't get it.It Has been CLASS WARFARE for two years and flowery terms don't change it."

    No, you don't get it. It has been class warfare for over 60 years and the wealthy have largely already won a stranglehold over the country's wealth and governance, which is why we're having insanely ridiculous conversations about how it's supposedly "extreme" to tax people making $250,000 or more at merely 3% more on the dollars they make AFTER reaching $250,000...a rate they were paying when the economy was doing extremely well and growing and that resulted in a surplus which could have been used to shore up the government's finances to address foreseeable issues, like an aging population creating more strain on Medicare and SS. That the wealthy already won is apparent in the fact that people like yourself and others who are likely not rich or one of those making $250,000 spent your lives being acculturated to be their willing and gullible patsies....completely brainwashed to support policies specificallyk designed to further their plutocratic agenda.

    December 4, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. Ancient Texan

    SE- First there was NO surplus. Clinton was counting the Social Security Revenues in with the general fund. The closest he ever got was a deficit of $19.4 billion. The tax cuts worked before the Democrats contaminated the Congress in 2007; Unemployment averaged 4.7% for the entire 8 years Bush was in office and Obama's rate has been above 8% because of the uncertainty of the economy under Obama and all of the unbelievable regulations he has piled on small businesses.

    December 4, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  17. The REAL Truth...

    @tc – What happened to keeping one's own money? I am middle class. It will not stop with "The Rich". If you want to feed your guilty souls, tax yourself and donate to the poor.
    Oh, puh-lease! Get a grip people. The fear-mongering being generated by right wing haters is laughable at best, asinine at worst. It merely shows the intelligence level of those who source of "news" comes from a foreign-owned Entertainment channel – Fox!
    US citizens are paying the LOWEST Income tax rates in generations (if ever) yet all the sheeple do is complain about not raising taxes. Raising rates on the 2% along with Cap Gains tax will NOT hurt job creation as MOST of those folks do not CREATE jobs.. they will survive... they will STILL be wealthy!! YOU WILL NOT !! Yet you still buy into the garbage. The very definition of insanity is repeating the same process yet expect a different outcome !! The LOWER TAX RATES of the last 12 yrs have done NOTHING GOOD for the economy... it's time to try something different.

    December 4, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. Malory Archer

    Someone needs to remind mr. coburn that four weeks ago today America SOUNDLY REJECTED what the speaker is selling. President Obama needs to stick to his guns and work for ALL Americans, not just the top 2% to whom coburn and the speaker are beholden.

    December 4, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  19. Oscar

    You are right in that the GOP will be blamed anyway so lets go over and the cliff and enact cuts for the middle class afterward. Every thing else will have to make it on its own. Government was not meant to do everything including 99 weeks of unemployment. I did plenty of manual labor all my life and during college and I would do it again before being on the dole for almost two years.

    December 4, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  20. Tom

    I keep reading articles of how Obama is looking for a way to solve the problem without hurting himself politically. I am sure the Republicans are looking for the same thing. It is about time that our "employees" we sent to Washington do the job they were paid to do. I don't want to pay more taxes, but I will if it will help solve the problem. Unfortunately, I do not trust the democrats who tell me, let start by increasing taxes, and later we will start cutting spending. For those of you who keep saying Obama won the election and the Republicans need to realize it, they do realize it, but that does not mean they stop doing the job they were elected to do. The "majority" you people keep talking about are the ones who want to keep receiving free stuff, and make other pay for it. I don't see them saying, "If the rich pay more, I will take less." You are saying if the rich pay more, I get more. I for one hope the Republicans in Congress continue to press for cuts timed with the tax increase, or before the tax increase, and not trust the president to do the right thing later on spending cuts.

    December 4, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. NickAnast

    Ancient Texan

    SE- No! You don't get it.It Has been CLASS WARFARE for two years and flowery terms don't change it. Lower taxes and a healthy economy produces more revenues than high taxes and a weak economy. John F. Kennedy found this approach to work extremely well and had huge gains in revenues. (he was a Democrat) It also worked for Reagan and George Bush had record revenues after the tax cuts. Don't believe me...research it yourself. Google it.


    Ancient Texan, do you live on Bizzarro World? Reagan tripled the national debt and Bush doubled it. Kennedy lowered the top tax rate from 91% to 70%, so if you want to return to Kennedy-era tax rates, I'm all in favor of it. And it's interesting that you left out Bill Clinton, whose tax increase (on the rich only) directly led to the creation of 22 million jobs and 4 balanced budgets.

    Class warfare was declared on January 20, 1981, when Reagan and the rich declared war on the middle class and the poor. They won big for 8 years, until Clinton restored some sanity. Then Bush declared another class war, and the rich have been winning ever since.

    December 4, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. rainystein

    First off, who caused Fannie Mae? Certainly wasn't the conservatives! Do the research, seems to me that Senator Obama and Clinton had EVERYTHING to do with it and the crash, well, for some reason I don't blame the conservatives.... and the drop began when Bush had his last two years with a house and senate majority of liberals... Look it up before you call me a liar... Facts bite sometimes... Time to stop blaming and learn to stop spending money you don't have... Stop funding terrorists in countries that want us dead too! People who are burning American flags and declaring Jihad to America, yet we send them billions??? Something wrong with this picture... and Egypt? Wow..... Obama's Arab Springs is now a dictatorship and he beams as he sends them our money.... How's that working out for y'all?? And Benghazi... another sore subject, our own Americans murdered at the hands of terrorists and we are still sending them money? C'mon... lets get real here.... Sheeesh....

    December 4, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  23. tc

    Everyone has a choice to do what they desire. I want to keep that choice. This is the US. I want government to stay out of my life. You saw how good they are after "Sandy"

    December 4, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  24. conniesz

    Let's go over the cliff and see what happens then. I think the first thing that will happen is the Dems in the house will submit a bill to lower taxes on the middle class – and the Republicans will either stonewall or pass it – either way it's a victory. If they stonewall and hold out for a cut in tax rates for those making $250K+, well, that will come back and bite them hard in the 2014 elections. If they cave in and pass the cut for the middle and lower classes – that's good for everyone. So it's truly a win-win to let this cliff thing happen. CALL THEIR BLUFF MR. PRESIDENT!

    December 4, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  25. JWT

    Ancient Texan – Something you might want to include in you calculus, yes under Reagan we did have record revenues, we also had record deficits. Trickle down has not worked properly for 30 years. Lets go back to something that actually worked. Namely the same rates we had under clinton.

    December 4, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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