Coburn: US will need to face ‘discomfort’ to get deficit deal done

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Sunday said the U.S. would need to experience some “discomfort” if it wanted to resolve its fiscal woes. 

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Coburn said both parties needed to budge on taxes and entitlement reform to reach a deal to avoid the looming “fiscal cliff” and tackle the nation’s larger debt problems.

ADVERTISEMENT
“Everybody in this country will have to participate in some discomfort if we're going to get out of this hole,” he said.

Coburn said he would be willing to see higher tax rates, but said Democrats needed to put “significant entitlement reform” on the table in exchange.

“The president's proposing 7 percent of the solution. What we ought to be working on is the other 93 percent, because even if you do what he wants to do on tax rates, you only affect 7 percent of the deficit,” said Coburn. “What we have done is spend ourselves into a hole, and we're not going to raise taxes and borrow money and get out of it.”

“Will I accept a tax increase as a part of a deal to actually solve our problems? Yes,” he continued. “But the president's negotiating with the wrong people. He needs to be negotiating with our bondholders in China, because if we don't put a credible plan on the discussion, ultimately, we all lose.”

Coburn said that opponents of entitlement reform had been dishonest with the public by suggesting that the programs could be saved without any cuts. 

“You can't continue to lie to the American people. There is no way to fix Medicare under the guidelines at AARP with our tax dollars are using to now advertise to say don't fix it. We need to fix it. And the way to fix it is to control the costs,” said Coburn.

Congressional Republicans and President Obama are at an impasse over taxes, with the White House insisting any deal include raising tax rates on the top 2 percent. The House GOP deficit offer includes new tax revenues from closing loopholes and deductions, but most Republicans are opposed to raising tax on any income bracket.

Coburn and a number of GOP lawmakers, though, have signaled they would be willing shift their stance if Democrats put serious entitlement reform on the table

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Sunday said Obama’s plan to only extend the current lower tax rates for the middle class might be the “best route” forward for the GOP to secure additional spending cuts and social program reforms.

Also appearing on ABC, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said Democrats had already begun taking steps to protect entitlement programs into the future and said that the next step should be insuring that the wealthy di more to contribute to deficit reduction.

“We've already agreed to $1 trillion in spending reductions. Two, Medicare and entitlements. We've already agreed to over $700 billion in spending reductions on Medicare, starting by cutting overpayments to insurance companies. Three is making sure the wealthiest in the country contribute to solving the deficit problem. That's what hasn't passed,” said Stabenow.

“Right now, the only thing I hear, the only thing we see is middle-class families being asked over and over again to be the ones who have the burden in solving this problem,” Stabenow said.