Tags: coburn | fiscal | cliff | taxes | cuts

Coburn: Fiscal Cliff Must Be Solved More with Cuts than Taxes

Sunday, 11 Nov 2012 04:31 PM

By Stephen Feller

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Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said Sunday that while he agrees that increasing revenue to the government will be part of any deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, the real problem is entitlement spending and reducing the size of government.

Coburn also told NBC that Gen. David Petraeus, the now former director of the CIA who resigned Friday, will have to testify before Congress regardless of what his assistant says in hearings this week related to the terrorist attack in Benghazi because of his unique knowledge of the situation.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has signaled since the day after the election that House Republicans would be willing to discuss increasing revenue, though he and others in the party have focused on closing certain tax deductions and curbing entitlement spending.

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“I think you heard the speaker of the house put forward that we’re ready for the president to lead,” Coburn said. “They’re ready to agree to revenue increases but I think they’re also interested in making sure that we downsize appropriately the federal government in terms of its waste... I think the vast majority of Americans agree with that.”

“The question is, how do you do that? And how do you allow taxes to rise at the same time you fix the real problem? The real problem is uncontrolled entitlement spending and a government that has grown massively - not just under this president, but under Republican administrations. You have to approach both sides of it.”

In 2011, Coburn proposed a plan to cut $9 trillion from the federal budget over a decade by eliminating a wide array of tax credits and cuts to various programs, according to Forbes. Among the credits he would get rid of are the mortgage interest deduction and tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance.

The list of eliminations also includes limits on the earned interest tax credit, credits for oil and gas production, as well as green energy initiatives, and subsidies to individual industries and businesses.

“We can get $39 billion a year just through various simple changes in terms of tax credits and limited total tax decuctions,” Coburn said. “If you limit total deductions and exemptions for those above $250,000, what you can essentially do is raise all sorts of money. Nobody really wants to increase revenues because it does have a negative, detrimental effect on the economy, but thats the part of the bargain that you have to do.”

The Senate this week also will restart hearings into the terrorist attack on the former U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Coburn, who plays a prominent role on the committee on homeland security and governmental affairs, said that despite Petraeus’s resignation on Friday, he would need to testify and share the essential information only he knows - which is essential to sorting out what happened.

Bob Woodward told NBC on Sunday before Coburn appeared that Petraeus did his own investigation into the raid, speaking with commanders and involved witnesses on the ground weeks ago and that that information will need to be delivered by him because knows it better than anybody else.

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“He needs to answer [our questions],” Coburn said. “He was obviously the person in charge of the CIA and he has information that probably other people don’t have. It’s still going to be important that his input combines into the conclusion in what we find about what went wrong. We obviously weren’t prepared. I think we have to spend time on what happened and how it happened and get to the bottom of it so we don’t see this kind of mistake again.”

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