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. W8a2nd

    Boehner, your ship is sinking! Put Coburn at the helm and get out of the way!

    December 5, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  2. 21k

    ok, so there's another seat that will ultimately be lost to dems, after he loses his next primary to a brainless tea-dewshe.

    December 5, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  3. Don

    Finally someone from the Republican party is willing to stand up to the tea party and side with the
    majority of the American people. We can only hope that our representatives will do what is best for the
    middle class and the country as a whole.

    December 5, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  4. ronjayaz

    A REAL break? Let's see.

    December 5, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  5. Name

    Have obaama to agree to cut gov spending and its pension first

    December 5, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  6. AK_steve

    Finally coming to their senses. Looks like the wrath of the Tea Party no longer holds is grip on the GOP.

    December 5, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  7. MagicBishop

    Coburn's senior constituents are waking up to the fact that one party wants to go after their benefits and the other wants to find cuts elsewhere.

    December 5, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  8. Mar

    Im not rich and my income is 23,000 a yr and every yr i pay taxes says i make too much thats a joke its just contoling where you should live no credit because u dont have enough income still a joke, new car cant afford pymts... Cant go on vacation... Not enough money to save. So instead of living life life is living me. Shame on the man who keeps u down.. Same on washington that thinks its ok to let the rich get richer.. Some one should shout get u hands out my pocket.....

    December 5, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  9. Miss Demeanor

    Sen. Coburn is one of our wise ones courageous enough to risk putting what's best for all of us ahead of his own political gain.

    December 5, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  10. Lynda

    Well, it's about time, and thank you for earning your salary!

    December 5, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  11. tom wittmann

    Shouldn't Grover Norquist be charged with indirect bribe and incitation of Congress members to sell their voting rights to private interests??

    Shouldn't Congress members which signed and not recanted not impeached and eventually charged too??

    Why the Attotney General is not acting??

    December 5, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  12. wxqz

    Senator, thanks. Advocate for the people and the people will advocate for you.
    American always appreciate the independent thinker, the rebel.
    You gunslinger.
    I'll register on your website so when you run for re-election, I can send you a modest contribution for your campaign.

    Please fight the good fight for additioanl revenue. Then pull out the hatchet and tear into the spending.
    The Federal government spends a trillion dollars a years too much. It I spend that much I can have the illision of properity too. Tell the health care industry they will need to curb their addition to easy federal dollars. Same for the defense department.
    I do not get a free ride, neither do they.
    And thanks again.

    December 5, 2012 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  13. Name. American

    Common sense will rule the day!

    December 5, 2012 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  14. polnick

    There is no possibility of creating the needed jobs; most Americans cannot survive without a helping hand and enough food stamps in their EBT card. Healthcare must be provided for the poor, only a raise in the debt limit can prevent the spread of mass starvation and disease.

    December 5, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  15. jake

    the cracks are starting to form in the hull of the good ship "teapublican.

    December 5, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  16. JASON

    ost republicans are evil amazing if coburn could go against the devil

    December 5, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  17. HCX

    People eventually come around to logical thinking. They just need time to figurehow they are going to spin it.

    December 5, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  18. beth s

    I'd like to thank all three senators for showing that someone still has the ability to compromise. And I especially like the point brought out by the senators from Maine about people who claim small business profits on their personal returns; that has been a concern.

    December 5, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  19. roy

    A flat tax on all income and everybody would really reform the tax code in a positive way.

    December 5, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  20. penguin

    Why is the" cure" for the "fiscal cliff" an increase in taxes and a decrease in spending? Going over the "cliff" results in an increase in taxes and a decrease in spending. The "cure" is the "cliff", with spending cuts coming from different sources. Personally, I prefer the "cliff" because that will be the only way to reign in defense spending and entitlements. But the mere fact that even Republicans realize the "cliff" would adversely affect the economy is an admission that government stimulus money does, in fact, stimulate the economy.

    December 5, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  21. Dan

    Since when have "taxes" been the answer to anything? Bush made it quite clear that the easiest way to raise money was to invade foreign countries and set up tribute states, and I'm pretty sure "Canada" (aka New Minnesota) was next on The List. Has everyone really forgotten about that?

    December 5, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  22. DJESQ

    You Own It !
    We BORROW $4 Billion EVERY DAY !
    Sometime in 2024 we shall be bankrupt ! The streets will be chaos, like modern day Greece.
    As an Independent, I say, "a pox on both your houses."
    Still you voted for BO ! … Hello, dummies …
    Your grandkids will be fiscally enslaved.
    You Own It !

    Hope you enjoy the real fall …

    December 5, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  23. DW

    Congratulations Mr. Coburn,
    A Republican with principals. FINALLY!

    December 5, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  24. Christopher

    Hope he gets re-elected. For once a Republican that thinks and is pragmatic. I vote Big D mostly but would love to see a republican party that had some people I could vote for. They went so far over the edge last decade or so I couldn't support them.

    December 5, 2012 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  25. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    He knows what has to be done. There is no getting around this. I wonder why the GOP leaders don't see this. Are they too afraid of Norquist? He needs to come clean and admit that he is the only one that people made pledges to and not the state. All the claims that the GOP has that these tax rates will affect job creator have failed to show any examples of these so call job creators.

    December 5, 2012 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
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