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Americans for Tax Reform Responds to Coburn

By on 1.27.12 | 5:53PM

As readers will recall, we had an exchange earlier in the week revolving around Senator Tom Coburn's views of Newt Gingrich. In the doing we heard from Dr. Coburn's office and published their view, with a mention of Grover Norquist's American's for Tax Reform. Grover's ATR has now responded, and in the spirit of equal time, here is the response from John Kartch of ATR:

Dear Jeffrey:

Dr. Tom Coburn is a hero when he fights duplicative, wasteful government spending but his fight for a massive tax increase as part of a grand bargain with President Obama and congressional Democrats is another matter.  Evidence below:

1. Dr. Coburn voted for President Obama's Simpson-Bowles commission report, which is a net tax increase of $2 – $3 trillion over ten years.  Here are the citations:

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who voted against Simpson-Bowles, writes:

"Relative to a current policy baseline, the proposal would increase revenues by $2 trillion over 10 years."  ["Expanded Views on the Fiscal Commission," by Paul Ryan, Dec. 4, 2010]

The Heritage Foundation scored Simpson-Bowles as a $3.3 trillion tax increase over ten years:

 "Overall, the fiscal commission would raise taxes by $3.3 trillion over the decade."  Heritage also wrote that Bowles-Simpson would be "the highest sustained tax burden in American history." ["Fiscal Commission Report: Too Much Taxes, Not Enough Spending Cuts," by Brian Riedl, Dec. 3, 2010]

 2. In the past year, Dr. Coburn has repeatedly begged for a massive tax increase as part of a grand deal with Democrats:

 "Why will I take on those that are against tax increases for Republicans?  Because it's the right thing to do to save our country." 
-- Tom Coburn, 29 May 2011, on C-SPAN's Newsmaker program [Video Link]

"I've been just as vocal supporting revenue increases after I left the [Simpson-Bowles] commission as I was before. 
-- Tom Coburn, 29 May 2011, on C-SPAN's Newsmaker program [Video Link]

"Do I believe we have to raise taxes to be able to get a deal to cut spending?  Yeah."
-- Tom Coburn, 9 June 2011, on MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show [Video Link]

"You know, the reason I'll stand up as a conservative Republican, one of the biggest deficit hawks in Congress, and say 'I'll negotiate on taxes' -- because our country's in trouble."
-- Tom Coburn, 14 June 2011, on the Early Show, CBS News [Video Link]

"Everybody knows there is gonna have to be a compromise on some sort of revenue increase as we make the major cuts.  That's just fact."
-- Tom Coburn, 14 June 2011, on MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell [Video Link]

MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell was so excited about Coburn's call for tax increases that he gushed, "We've got a Republican here talking about tax increases! Is this the first flicker of hope that the Republican tax cut fever might be fading?" To which Robert Reich exclaimed, "Lawrence, I think that it is a big deal…and maybe we are seeing the beginning of a willingness to raise taxes on corporations and indeed, raise taxes on the very wealthy!  Wouldn't that be something!" [Video Link]

After all, there is a reason President Obama praised Dr. Coburn in his State of the Union Address while pushing for the "Buffett Rule" to raise taxes.

Even after the debt ceiling and Supercommittee standoffs, Dr. Coburn was still advocating for a tax increase.  As a guest on C-SPAN Washington Journal on December 14, 2011, Coburn said:

"I would tell every Republican out there:  if you think in this time of divided government that we're not going to be able to come to an agreement without some revenue increases, that you might as well go find another country to live in. There is no way we're going to solve our problems without compromise. And part of that compromise is that we are going to have to have more revenues."

3. Despite what spokesman John Hart implies, there is absolutely no rate reduction in Dr. Coburn's $1 trillion "Back in Black" tax hike plan. The tax increases are unaccompanied by any tax reform. ATR fully supports revenue-neutral tax reform which lowers the rates and broadens the base – which is not what the Back in Black plan does. Here is a chart from Coburn's official website which lays out in simple black and white the $1 trillion tax hike citation. Note the section under "Revenues". A majority of Coburn's trillion dollar tax hike plan is in four commonly understood areas: the mortgage interest deduction; health insurance from work; parking and transit; and tax brackets being indexed to inflation. Again, ATR supports scrapping all of these tax provisions but only in the context of revenue-neutral tax reform. Otherwise, the higher taxes of the Coburn plan will just be immediately spent by Washington appropriators.

4. Dr. Coburn supports the federal ethanol mandate, which is responsible for the overwhelming majority of ethanol production.  Speaking on the Senate floor on June 13, 2011, Senator Jon Thune plainly asked Sen. Coburn where he came down on the ethanol mandate. Thune said, "One of our colleagues from South Carolina [DeMint] has introduced an amendment to this bill which would end that (ethanol mandate)... and I assume -- I don't know this for a fact -- that my colleague from Oklahoma would support that amendment." A frustrated Coburn responded, "You obviously didn't hear what I was saying as you were conversing. I said I support ethanol. I wouldn't support that." Caught off-guard, Sen. Thune again asked Sen. Coburn whether or not he would support an amendment that eliminated the ethanol mandate. Once again, Coburn said "I will oppose that amendment" and later added, "the reason I support a mandated level of ethanol is until we have a cogent drilling policy in this country that says we're going to actually utilize our own resources, then we ought to -- we need to keep ethanol."

Question for Dr. Coburn: Will you, today, finally end your support for the ethanol mandate?  The mandate requires the production of 15.2 billion gallons of biofuels this year, rising to 36 billion gallons by 2022.

And by the way, despite his dishonest claims, spokesman John Hart knows ATR has always opposed all three of the government's ethanol supports – the mandate, the credit, and the tariff

Now that the credit and tariff are thankfully gone as of January 1, the central pillar of the ethanol regime remains: the ethanol mandate. One of the biggest things standing in the way is Dr. Tom Coburn.

Best,

John Kartch
Director of Communications
Americans for Tax Reform

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