Senator Tom Coburn, R-OK, has long been a voice of reason in the United States Senate. He was the same voice of reason in the House of Representatives, causing Speaker Newt Gingrich major headaches by not going along to get along. He has long been advocating a balanced approach to reducing the national debt and the deficit and it is worth mentioning that Coburn’s approach is much more balanced than the proposals President Obama and the liberal Democrats have put forth.
Coburn is called Dr. No in the Senate for a reason. The number of bills he has blocked because they contain wasteful spending can not be counted. He believes in cutting the size of government and he is not bashful about calling his fellow Senators to task for failing to get that done. Democrats and Republicans alike have felt his scorn for their lackadaisical approach to their jobs. It is worth noting now that Coburn is no longer being silent on the issue of the fiscal cliff. As usual, he is not following the expected party line, but neither is he giving Democrats a pass. He says we have to raise new revenues and he would rather see that done by raising tax rates on the wealthy, instead of trying to cap deductions. At the same time, Coburn says raising taxes isn’t something he wants to see happen, but is something he feels has to be done. It is not avoidable, but should also be accompanied by cuts in spending.
(Politico) 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.
A lot of people may believe Senator Coburn has gone off the deep end and is siding with the Democrats, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I am not a fan of raising taxes and have said repeatedly that the GOP leadership should draw a line in the sand and refuse to raise taxes, unless those tax increased are accompanied by cuts in spending that are real and substantial. Coburn is advocating the same thing and is doing it from a strategic standpoint.
Coburn has also privately been making the “tactical argument” to Republican senators and his former House colleagues that the GOP’s best option is to agree to the rate hikes, then extract spending cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, said one Senate source.
And while Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other GOP leaders publicly oppose any tax hike in the fiscal deal, they haven’t tried to silence Coburn, sources said. But the former three-term congressman is perhaps freer to speak his mind than most Republicans: A proponent of term limits, he has pledged not to run for a third Senate term in 2016.
“The reality is there is a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate — and the only way you’re going to start doing something to save Medicare, to save Social Security is to give them revenue,” Coburn told POLITICO. “It’s wrong, but that’s the real world we live in.”
I wholeheartedly wish the “real world” Coburn is referring to didn’t exist, but the political reality is that it does. We have to deal with it, regardless if we like it or not. I just hope the GOP leadership can follow Coburn’s lead and find it in themselves to stand their ground and refuse to raise taxes, unless spending cuts are forthcoming from the Democrats.