Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Friday said it's "stupid and naive" to think that a grand bargain on reducing the federal deficit can be reached without tax increases.
"I think it's terrible that we would have to raise more taxes," Coburn said on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal." "But if we're going to get an agreement in Washington to fix our problems, when those of us that don't want to raise taxes control the House of Representatives, don't control the Senate, don't control the White House — I think it's pretty stupid and naive to think you're going to win that battle."
Coburn, a member of the so-called Gang of Six that proposed a $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction proposal earlier this week, continued his war of words with the anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, saying he "represents the silliness of our political situation today."
"I would rather fix the country and lose a battle with Grover Norquist than send our country down the tubes and pay attention to a point of view that is just suicide," Coburn said. "And the fact is that there's a lot of ways to enhance the revenue to the federal government. Reforming the tax code is a way to do it but we have to get $4 trillion."
The senator's comments were in response to recent criticism from Norquist, who said Coburn has lost the support of Republican leadership by not ruling out tax increases in a debt-ceiling deal.
"Coburn has publicly said in the past, though, that he likes tax increases now. That's passed him by," Norquist said recently on C-SPAN. "The Republican leadership in the House have made it very clear that if Coburn continues to be for tax increases, he's by his lonesome on that and nobody else has joined him."
Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which promises to never raise taxes, is viewed as a sticking point in negotiations on raising the debt ceiling.
Democrats have insisted on additional revenues in a deal either in the form of tax increases or closing tax loopholes and ending tax subsidies. Republicans, most of whom have signed Norquist's pledge, have insisted that any deal not increase taxes.
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