GOP senator backs tax rate hike on wealthy
December 5th, 2012
06:09 PM ET
9 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. Blackflag

    OK, we have at least one GOP Senator who actually understands the concept of compromise. That is good to know. Any others out there?

    December 5, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  2. Trusting Obama?

    I for one would not trust the President and the Dems to do anything else after raising taxes on the "rich."

    Now is the only time the GOP will have real leverage.....maybe again with the debt ceiling.

    I thought Boehner asked the President back in JANUARY to start working on this? Can't believe these twits leave it to the last minute!!!

    December 5, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  3. Unhappy American

    Since when did the deficit payoff become the burden of the wealthier Americans? What happened to equality!?! Why is one penalized for making more money? This is do UNAMERICAN! If I am going to pay more in taxes, I want more rights and liberties! This country is not what it was! You can quote me on that! How about a flat tax and for the Ovama administration as well as any other members of congress STOP FLYING FIRST CLASS AND OUR PRESIDENT STIP TAKING MULTI MILLION DOLLAR FOUR DAY VACATION FOR STARTERS!!

    December 5, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  4. jeff

    Agree to higher tates to collect the 1.6 trillion the dems want but attached 4.8 trillion in spending cuts and entitlment reform. That would be the 3 to 1 ratio discussed in the past.
    Also do not give away the dept ceiling to the administration

    December 5, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  5. CBR

    Good for Sen. Coburn. Perhaps other Republicans will be just as courageous.

    December 5, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  6. Emma in Baltimore

    Sen. Coburn is right. And I hope voters take notice and re-elect him. We need more people like him - sensible enough to work for the best interests of his constituents instead of ideologues.

    December 5, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  7. kirk828

    I wouldn't say welcome to the club, I would say welcome to reality and maturity. The majority of Americans want this. It is time for the republican party to start thinking about the will of the people and not their own self interest. I admire someone who can compromise and I think the democrats need to compromise on their part also in regards to entitlement programs. This country was built on compromise by our founding fathers. It is about time our elected officials stop acting like spoiled children.

    December 5, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  8. Rick Tonita

    It is such a relief to see a person like Mr. Coburn think about the needs of the country first and think for himself rather than blindly following an ideology. It takes wisdom and courage, thank you Mr. Coburn for representing the wishes of the majority who want this settled.

    December 5, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  9. Edwin

    Maybe we can actually get something done here. Then again, we've had glimmers of hope before, only to have them dashed to bits by lobbyists and other pressure.

    Personally I think we should elect legislators with backbones AND brains... instead of legislators with deep pockets and no idea why they are there.

    December 5, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  10. Bob

    Here's a crazy alternative idea to increasing revenue: reduce spending

    December 5, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  11. KC_HHSL

    We have an individual who sits in the White House elected by 50% of the people – who acts like he was elected by 75%. His proclaims he is not moving off raising the tax rate on the top 2% of the wage earners to help reduce the multi-trillion debt. What does this mean? The Top 1% of the wage earners earn $380,400 and in 2010 there were 1,399,606 tax returns filed with a positive AGI. This group (1%) paid 38% of the income taxes. So what are we talking about – the top 1% paid $392,149,000,000 in taxes each year. Keeping things simple an increase form 35% to 39% would get approximately $44,817,028,571 for the 1% – double is and we will keep this real simple – generates $90,000,000,000 in new tax revenue. This assumes everything stays the same. This is about .60% of the current national debt. I saw a figure that says we are debt is increasing by $6,000,000,000 per day – that additional tax revenue will get off set a whopping 15 days of going into debt.

    Sorry but something is terribly wrong with a person sitting in power who is piddling over .60% increase in income each year to tackle a debt problem the size we have. I don’t care if you are a republican, democrat, libertarian, communist, independent, or a Martian – no sane individual would go out and start pointing fingers at another individual or party saying “they are not taking things serious” when in fact the person pointing the finger is obviously not understanding the problem. He is just getting people all worked up about the “rich” who he claims is not paying their fair share – yet the top 1% pay who already pay 38% of the tax burden.

    We have a serious problem and it starts with the person in the White House. We have politicians who have no clue what in the world is going on but sure like to blah blah blah on TV. Anyone right now who believes obama has any clue as to how serious this issue is – I would ask, please explain exactly where he is in reality to the current fiscal issue.

    December 5, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  12. Gregory M. Newbold

    The GOP did NOTpay for the two wars; historically when we`ve gone to war, as a fiscally conservative country, we`ve raised taxes to pay for it.

    The GOP lied about weapons of mass destruction to get us into wars.

    The GOP lied and said tax cuts would create jobs; they didn`t.

    So why would Americans now believe Republicans who claim that "closing loopholes" would raise revenue. It MAY NOT because the wealthy will simply twist in others ways. However raising the marginal tax rate, the CAPITAL GAINS tax rate, elininating the "carried interest" treatment exploited by VCs like Romney, all WILL DEFINITELY raise revenue.

    Americans want a sure thing and not more smoke & mirrors from the GOP. Raise tax rates AND eliminate loopholes. THEN the following year, AFTER the impact of loophole elimination can be MEASURED, consider scaling back marginal tax rates to somewhere between where they are now and the Clinton era rates.

    December 5, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  13. nlcatter

    amazing , someone with sense in the GOP

    December 5, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  14. MJ

    Finally a ray of sanity!

    December 5, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  15. rocky5

    May god help us all ☺º°˚нåнåнå˚°º☺

    December 5, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  16. Paul Price

    Isn't it refreshing to see a Republican Senator using good old common sense and concern for America? Hats off to you, Senator Coburn!

    December 5, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  17. Dywlf

    Why do these senators bother to talk to the likes of msnbc and souldead at cnn. These narrcissistic egos don't disseminate any news that is not based on their own opinion. Stop wasting your time talking to them.

    December 5, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  18. Pam Harris

    Brilliant of Olympia Snowe to omit small business owners from the tax increase. That is the moderate voice we need to hear and listen to today.

    December 5, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  19. Southern Welfare Dude

    Im glad the Republicans are finally doing what their respected voters want them to do. Lets stop before we go over the cliff.

    December 5, 2012 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  20. Gurgyl

    Wise unwise cluster.

    December 5, 2012 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  21. Marilyn

    We need House Republicans willing to do this! Maybe Coburn, Collins and Snowe can talk some sense into the Representatives!

    December 5, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  22. Ken Grosser

    Oklahoma has one great sincere Senator who is not corrupt. Dr. Coburn does not bring in pork money unlike his corrupt partner the anti-science; anti climate change, totally in the pocket of big oil Inhofe. Inhofe is an intellectually challenged man and Coburn is true to his words and has taken on Defense industry and corruption in his own Party's give-aways too.

    December 5, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  23. nlcatter

    somebody in GOP with sense

    December 5, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  24. NameTo DNA

    Senator Coburn knows this is the way ; The only reasonable way
    to resolve the fiscal cliff !! I hope GOP'S see the wisdom &f follow
    His Lead .

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

    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 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
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