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Tom Coburn Urges Fellow Republicans To Abandon Anti-Tax Orthodoxy

Senator Tom Coburn has been among the most vocal Republicans when it comes to fiscal issues, and now he’s urging his fellow Republicans to make a deal on the fiscal cliff even if it includes a tax hike:

The Oklahoma senator and obstetrician known as “Dr. No” has taken on the most unlikely of roles: getting Republicans to say “yes” to tax hikes.

Tom Coburn, who has blocked dozens of bills, infuriated Democratic leaders and been on the lopsided end of some 96-3 votes, has been encouraging fellow Republicans both publicly and behind the scenes to break with the anti-tax orthodoxy that has come to define — some say hamstring — the modern GOP.

Coburn, 64, isn’t new to this call — he voted two years ago for the Simpson-Bowles plan that would have allowed tax rates to rise on top earners. Yet with a possible tax-hike vote in sight, Coburn has emerged as a Sherpa of sorts for reluctant conservatives to discuss a deal that includes higher tax rates on upper-income Americans in exchange for significant spending cuts and sweeping entitlement reforms.

In an interview, Coburn said the GOP should swallow hard and accept a smaller tax hike that would have the least effect on the economy. Without a deal, he warned, it’s “inevitable” all Americans will face an increase to their income tax rates when the 2001 and 2003 George W. Bush tax cuts expire Dec. 31.

And polls show Republicans would shoulder most of the blame if the two sides fail to strike a deal.

“I’m for raising revenue because we have to — it’s not because we should but because we have to,” Coburn told POLITICO. Republicans can say they refuse to support any tax hikes, “but it’s still going to happen. That’s what the law is.”

Last week, Coburn acknowledged on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Republicans “have to raise revenue” and that he preferred that rates go up for families making more than $250,000 rather than capping deductions. On Sunday, he told ABC’s “This Week” that he was willing to accept a tax increase as part of a deal to solve the nation’s debt crisis.

Of course, Coburn is likely to be called a RINO now, which is ironic considering that he’s among the most fiscally conservative members of the Senate. Perhaps his fellow Republicans ought to listen to him instead of denouncing him.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    Depend on it sir, when a man is about to be hung it greatly concentrates his mind…..Dr Johnson

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. john personna says:

    “I’m for raising revenue because we have to — it’s not because we should but because we have to,” Coburn told POLITICO. Republicans can say they refuse to support any tax hikes, “but it’s still going to happen. That’s what the law is.”

    Not because they should?

    Still a believer in magic budgets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  3. Barfour says:

    Fiscal policy have to reflect reality. Its that simple. I just don’t understand why taxes have to be cut or stay low in a time of war or any other time that spending have to go up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. stonetools says:

    Again, the problem is not Senator Tom Coburn. Its House Republicans who are afraid of being primaried. If you think this is just about arithmetic, think deeper.

    House Republicans aren’t sitting down with calculators and poring over graphs. They are wondering who Club for Growth can run against them in 2014 primaries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Coburn’s no dummy. The Dems control the high ground and both flanks and have shorter supply lines. You don’t have to be George Patton to realize how this battle will unfold.

    That aside, perhaps the greatest irony with all of this is with the stroke of a pen we could increase federal revenues but without raising tax rates one basis point.

    There are hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs lying dormant offshore, below unleased federal lands, in Alaska, in coal country, in Western forests, and below ground in the Mountain States. But when caribou, salamanders and spotted owls are deemed more important than people and livelihoods then, yes, Cassandra, the country will experience severe problems.

    Then with the stroke of another pen we could create vast numbers of additional jobs, across all major industries, merely by taking Texas’ tort reform statutes, tweaking them a bit, and making them a national law. But when John Edwards-style shakedown attorneys have a lot more clout than business owners the fiscal and economic scenarios will be FUBAR.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  6. teo says:

    It’s brutal. Sadly, we predicted the spending binge because baby boomers head to Medicare and Social Security. And this will continue for a couple of decades. Yet we have guys there who essentially ignore this and want more tax cuts. Sadly, too many pay too little. It’s not just the wealthy. It’s the millions who pay $0. Sure, the lady making $14,000 has other problems than just not being able to pay taxes. But the lady making $65,000? She needs to contribute. Everyone does.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Brummagem Joe says:

    @teo:

    Where do you get the idea that the lady making $65k doesn’t likely pay federal taxes?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. Al says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Shorted the US government yet? No?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. al-Ameda says:

    In an interview, Coburn said the GOP should swallow hard and accept a smaller tax hike that would have the least effect on the economy. Without a deal, he warned, it’s “inevitable” all Americans will face an increase to their income tax rates when the 2001 and 2003 George W. Bush tax cuts expire Dec. 31.

    This goes to the heart of the matter – Obama’s proposal is the middle ground, it is the compromise solution. Honestly, Tip O’Neil and Ronald Reagan would have signed off on this after 5 minutes of discussion and adjourned to a bar for a few pints of Guinness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0