In an interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl, Sen. Tom Coburn explicitly embraced raising tax revenues by closing tax loopholes as part of a deal on spending cuts.
“Do I want tax rates to rise? Absolutely not. Will I fight that? Yeah,” Coburn said. “Would I agree to a plan that would create great economy that would markedly increase revenues to the federal government? You bet. And that’s what I want to do.”
Coburn recently left the Senate “gang of six” working to form a bipartisan deficit strategy, according to the article, because of an inability to get colleague Dick Durbin of Illinois to consider specific cuts to entitlement spending. Coburn’s staff is currently working on a budget proposal that would cut $9 trillion from spending over 10 years, 50 percent more than the Ryan plan.
The reason that he wants to consider revenue increases alongside those spending reductions is not that revenue increases are technically necessary, but that they are politically necessary: “nobody believes that we’re going to get a bipartisan agreement without some way to increase revenue for the federal government.” In other words, there’s no way to get a deal without Democrats signing on, and Democrats won’t go for any deal that doesn’t include tax increases one way or another.
It would be possible, even easy, to balance the budget and solve the debt crisis with spending cuts alone. And $9 trillion over 10 years would go a long way toward that goal. What Coburn is signallying here is that he doesn’t think the government can wait until a hypothetical unified Republican government takes over to enact spending-only reform, and that a deal is going to have to be made.