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. Debbie

    Coburn is a Republican and not a TEAParty nut case. Hopefully the real GOP will dump the TEA and facists like Ryan and get back to GOP core of being conservative not radical and rigid.

    December 5, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  2. Independent jim

    doing the right thing for your country is not being courageous .. doing the bidding of people like Norquest is not doing the job your elected to do ..that job is to put country first ..not your reelection

    December 5, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  3. MashaSobaka

    How about we raise tax rates for the top 2% AND close the loopholes and deductions that benefit/subsidize the ultra-wealthy at the expense of the working and middle classes? Come on, people, we're paying you boatloads of money to handle this stuff...time to do a wee bit of multitasking and bring about REAL reform!

    December 5, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  4. israel

    domino effect, watch the house that norquist built fall like cards

    December 5, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  5. Lizzie

    Since when did it became that the "rich" is responsable for the "unresponsability of spending" that others created?!
    Everybody seems to forget that there was a point in time (not so long ago) where the democrats went on a rampage and gave loans to everyone! You then had the wise opportunity to use your mortgage equity to invest! Instead what did the majority of Americans do? Spend it on toys, toys, toys, w/o thinking of the consequences that's now hurting EVERYONE and seems to think that the "rich" should pay?! How ridiculous this ones a true country has became w/so many ridiculous expectations!
    What happen w/Ob's ridiculous "cash for cluker"?! Have you not learn yet?!

    December 5, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  6. Dorothy

    "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."

    Quick, someone do an EEG. He's a Republican, I know , but his eye-lids are fluttering as if he's actually thinking.

    December 5, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  7. tam

    If those very rich intended to create jobs with the tax money they saved - why haven't they done that by now?

    December 5, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  8. wiseup

    Boehner and other basic Republicans are regretting selling their souls to the T-pary devils in the name of getting control of the house. Boehner can't do any negotiating without having to kiss T-Party butts to get something done. Beohner is looking over his shoulder afraid of losing his speakership . McConnell is up for relection in mid term and afraid of losing his post in primary to another T party candidate. McConnell has that frozen frown like someone is force feedeing him lemons. He doesn't know how to smile.

    December 5, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  9. Gregory Dale

    Its about time someone in that party woke up , Boner sure has not and is a puppet to grover .

    December 5, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  10. Ryan

    As an Oklahoma, I am extremely proud of Senator Coburn for stepping across party lines and voting for what is best for America, rather than playing the same old partisan games that have gone on for too long in Washington. Hopefully other Republicans will follow his lead and we can actually move toward something constructive!!

    December 5, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  11. TerryG

    That sounds a bit too easy to me. Not that I don't trust these folks mind you but they've not shown themselves to be all that trustworthy in the past.

    December 5, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  12. bill davis

    And I thought the Wealthy were paying more, but then they only have one vote, yet they support several none tax payers.

    We know Obama votes present, and wants to blame other for his excess spending.

    No problem gettign Obama care through, but a budget was ahrd to do...

    December 5, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  13. N Vinny Veritas

    Thanks for being responsible, Senator Coburn!
    More Republican Senators and Representatives need to notice that the political wind has shifted, and wake up and smell the tar heating up- and see the feathers in the wind.

    December 5, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  14. Dan1943

    After WMD's, prisoner torture, the 47%, no abortion for raped women, creationism in public schools, and so many other llies and issues in their political agenda, is it possible that there are some Republicans who just might conceed to the present economic situation and face the fact that the wealthy just might need to be required to contribute a little more to the America that they have so long exploited?

    December 5, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  15. DJ

    And they defect one at a time... First they abandoned Mittens.. These repups..,

    December 5, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  16. WachetAuf

    It is extremely hard for their rational minds to overcome the intense primitive herding instincts which will ultimately drive them to their doom. But, there are some in the GOP who do have rational minds and can drill down into the details, see the big picture and acknowledge the error of their ways. It takes time. The leaders of the herd threaten all but death. After all, they have not yet learned all of Stalin's methods. The few in the GOP who are now softening their positions do realize that capital markest need labor and consumers. That the nore money that consumers have then more they will spend. And, guess what, the more money which will end up in the hands of the wealthy. The startegic objectivw of the wealthy are always met. Money never sticks with the poor and middle class. It is all spent and moves to the wealthy. Always. Alway. Always. These few in the GOP realize that government investment in the people, in capital markets, has always been, and still is, a central moving force in building and maintaining a strong economy. In spite of government investment and regulation to protect consumers and markets from fraud and abuse, funded by tax payer money, our private capital institutions still remain free. Freedom is much more free when all are free. All are free only when primitive Darwinian impulses are held in check by fair regulation, Wall Street Bankers included. Business is free only when there is a government system, state, federal and local, to protect them. It does take taxes. Taxes will always be with us. The GOP idiots Ayn Rand model is pure nonsense. An atheist anarchist who wrote romance novels about the privileged rich engaging in acts of terrorism. Paul Ryan loves Rand. It is required reading for his staff. Ryan and his cronies would literally drive this country over the cliff before they ever embrace the true Christian moral and ethical code. Ryan's economic theories are Utopian nightmares and wholly disproven. While the rest of us have lost our relative wealth, the rich have grown more wealthy at much higher rates. Tax increases have done no harm to business or the rich. The poor always get poorer while the rich get richer.

    December 5, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  17. Didilus Maximus Vomitus

    It is truly amazing when a member of the House or Senate is no longer running for re-election how bi-partisan they can become. This is the case with Senator Coburn. A major fissure in the Grover Norquist pledge will soon lead to an avalanche of support from Republicans to raise the rates on the rich. Romney was there only hope this would not happen and his failed run for the presidency doomed that prospect. As they say elections have consequences. Mitch McConnell and his party would have been well served by keeping his pledge to limit President Obama to one term a stealth operation. That strategy was a failure of the highest order and probably cost Republicans seats across the board.

    Obama/Biden 2012 FORWARD

    December 5, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  18. Rogue351

    It is about time the republicans started showing up and compromising instead of stone walling the entire country. They collected a pay check for the last four years and have done nothing. If they don't play ball this time around that's it the GOP they are done and gone.

    December 6, 2012 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  19. J.V.Hodgson

    That seems to me like 56 senate votes and easier to hit a cloture vote you might even get Scott brown to vote as well.
    Republicans held Obama to ransom on the deficit ceiling last year and as the say one good turn deserves another so Obama is holding republicans to ransom ( grover norquist pledge) over tax rate increases fow hich hehas a plura;ity of voters madate in all areas electoral college, national vote 53% and in the house and senate, which led despite gerrymandering to seat gains in both house and senate.
    I think he has the right to say this time on tax rates I win now lets discuss the rest.
    In effect thats the Geithner message this weekend.
    I believe the bush tax cuts cuurently reduce tax collections by $4tr over 10 years QED elimating them increase tax revenues = deficit reduction total target of $4tr needed?? Mmmmm??

    December 6, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  20. joepac

    some Reps, are finally coming out of the dark corner of the Rich people protectors and see the light to moving forward.

    December 6, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  21. Dale Curry

    Welcome to the Club? Welcome to reality, sport! Thanks for all the rhetoric for the last 4 years

    December 6, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  22. Cave

    What a cave. Taxes always go up, spending goes up, and cuts never happen. It is history always repeating itself.

    December 6, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  23. evelyn

    if we fall off the clift so will those who did not to stop it fall off too! Perhaps we the peoople should stop the opposers salaries, heatlh care coverage, retirement, pay raises in order for them to feel the pain of the people they were elected to support and help. Perhaps their lack of courage to do the right thing will ultimately be the begining of their demise.

    December 6, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  24. Dave in Arizona

    It's nice to see the Republicans finally give a little. Of course the Radical Right will now call them weak evil socialist traitors, but they're finally acting like adults.

    And if this keeps up, the burden of compromise will be equally on Republicans and Democrats–the way it should be.

    December 6, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  25. Grampa

    Reality is dawning.

    December 6, 2012 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
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