Coburn: We have to raise taxes in order to pass spending cuts

posted at 2:55 pm on May 19, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier this week, Tom Coburn quit the Gang of Six negotiations in the Senate, saying that the bipartisan working group on the budget wanted to go in a substantially different direction than Coburn would travel.  Given that context, Coburn’s essay in today’s Washington Post prompts a question — just where exactly did the Gang of Six want to go?  Coburn argues in his article that conservatives are going to have to swallow some tax hikes to get the spending cuts they want (via OTB):

The public rightly prefers spending cuts over revenue increases, but numerous polls indicate the vast majority of Americans would support the only type of plan that would ever make it out of Congress and be signed into law: one that favors spending cuts over revenue increases but includes both.

Getting there, however, will require the Senate to put forward specific solutions and win public support for serious entitlement reform and tax reform.

Really?  The polling I’ve seen indicates that voters don’t want tax hikes at all as a solution to the budget deficit.  The latest came this week from The Hill, in which the largest plurality — 45% — wanted cuts alone.  Only 28% were willing to personally pay higher taxes.

Coburn does frame this as the only “plan that would ever make it out of Congress,” but is that so?  Republicans control the House and aren’t likely to vote for tax hikes at all.  Democrats control the Senate, but a large number of them have to face voters, and they have to be cognizant of the national mood — especially after the object lesson delivered to their colleagues in the midterms about voter anger.  Barack Obama might veto a budget without tax hikes, but producing that kind of a budget from Congress is more likely at this point than getting John Boehner to commit political seppuku by pushing through a tax increase even before fighting for spending cuts.

Coburn has done a great job in the Senate and is a serious, responsible conservative.  I’d like to see him fight for a cuts-alone budget for a while, which is what I thought he was doing by quitting the Gang of Six.  If Coburn couldn’t get them to go along with him on this level of compromise, then what the heck are they going to propose?


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Uh-uh, no tax increases to solve the deficit. Washington has demonstrated time and time again that it will spend every dime it gets its hands on.

It’s kinda like immigration. Demonstrate to us that you can plug the southern border and deal more effectively with legal visitors who overstay their visas and then we’ll discuss and debate what to do with the illegals already here. Get the deficit under control and then we’ll discuss and debate the measures required to pay down the debt.

SukieTawdry on May 19, 2011 at 4:58 PM

I think this is like immigration. I have no problem eventuall doing something to legalize illegals who have been here for years, have no criminal record, and have not been on entitlements.

However, I would only be willing to support that AFTER some real border security and enforcement as well as real enforcement against businesses hiring illegals is done for a number of years.

In other words, they have to prove they are serious about the problem first – by serious spending cuts and entitlement reform – before I will believe they are serious.

Once they have proven they are serious, I would support some reasonable tax increases to pay down the debt.

But, as others have commented, if we raise taxes now, it won’t go to solving any of these problems, it will simply go to more spending. That is why it is unacceptable.

Monkeytoe on May 19, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Coburn has supported every RINO over every tea party challenger. Whether he was a “good” conservative in the past, it’s clear he is an “establishment” conservative, veering dangerously towards RINO status. His tax and spend budget proposals should be dead on arrival in the House. Maybe he feels that he would be a suitable running mate for Newt, given both their propensities to stab the party and fiscal conservatives in the back?

eaglewingz08 on May 19, 2011 at 5:13 PM

How about they don’t raise the debt ceiling until they agree on major spending cuts? Forget the will let you tax if you let us cut crap. Dear Tom just say no to progressivism – it’s failed us and it has failed you.

Dr Evil on May 19, 2011 at 6:00 PM

With friends like this, who needs the left?

chickasaw42 on May 19, 2011 at 6:14 PM

The establishment Republicans do not understand that they should be responsive to their constituents. They are used to doing what they want and telling us what we should want. We need to throw them out.

GaltBlvnAtty on May 19, 2011 at 6:17 PM

Nope.

holygoat on May 19, 2011 at 7:57 PM

If Coburn had a track record of calling for tax hikes, I would say the same as folks here, but Coburn calling for tax hikes is so “Not Coburn” that I think he’s trying to set a trap for President “I Killed Ossama!”.

The Donks want to raise taxes (but I repeat myself) and they want to increase spending (again, I repeat myself).

Odd that “Dr. No” would be the guy who:

First, bolts from the Gang of 6 “because he won’t go where they want to go…” (My guess is Tax and Spend)

Then says “Raise taxes. Cut Spending.”

And I had to think about it, because it’s the very definition of “out of left field”.

Then I thought: Maybe Coburn’s setting a trap?

Basically, he’s presented the Donks with something they can get behind (tax hikes) but ties it to something they’ll never get behind (spending cuts) thus setting it up thusly:

The Dems (and Obama) can:

1. Take a deal that raises taxes but cuts spending. (not happening as cutting spending is something Obama and the Dems simply won’t do under ANY circumstances)

2. Try to negotiate a deal that raises taxes but doesn’t touch spending. (Very good trick to find which GOPers aren’t on the fiscal conservative train also…) Much like #1, not happening. It’ll die in the GOP House.

3. Try to split it into two separate bills: One that raises taxes and one that cuts spending.

The Dems will take #3 and try and play it like this:

“Give us the hikes, we’ll give you the cuts…but we vote on the hikes first.”

Needless to say, the hikes don’t get out of the GOP House and the cuts die in the Dem Senate and here’s the trap:

Obama and the Dems are on the record as supporting tax hikes but not spending cuts and the GOP is on record as opposing tax hikes but supporting spending cuts, while nothing gets done.

With a general election coming up in 2012 the Dems are cast as the party that wants to raise your taxes AND increase unsustainable spending. The GOP is cast as the party that wants to cut both taxes AND spending.

Which one looks more fiscally responsible to the highly coveted “independent voters” in that scenario?

I think Coburn’s playing for the party’s prospects down the ticket in 2012 with this.

If I’m wrong, he should be castigated for it, but if I’m right, he’s a genius.

SuperCool on May 19, 2011 at 8:14 PM

Given that context, Coburn’s essay in today’s Washington Post prompts a question — just where exactly did the Gang of Six want to go?

They wanted tax increases only, because that is all the Dems will accept. For some reason they think themselves still entitled to whatever they want and that the GOP is just throwing a tantrum. They do not understand or accept that the voters threw out whatever mandate they may have claimed in 2008.

alwaysfiredup on May 19, 2011 at 8:46 PM

I’ve said it before and bI’ll say it again. I like Inhofe & Coburn and they have been stalwarts. That was then, this is now. It must be the long-term exposure to the DC swampgas and when you least expect it, they go RINOish on us. Seriously guys, thanks for your service, but since you wouldn’t give us term limits, it’s time for fresh blood.

Why make the past your sacred cow?
Why guess you’ve changed? You’ve changed and how
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Fruit’s grown rotten on the bough
Reap what you sow, with a counterfeit plough
Yeah, yeah, yeah

That was then, but this is now
That was then, but this is now

More sacrifices than an Aztec priest
Standing here straining at that leash
All fall down

Can’t complain, mustn’t grumble
Help yourself to another piece of apple, crumble
And consequently …. hear the rest

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPm_v4vTPgw

AH_C on May 19, 2011 at 9:16 PM

The politicians made this fiscal mess by giving out favors to their supporters so now let the politicians fix it. No taxes!

Herb on May 20, 2011 at 11:25 AM

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