House GOP negotiator: Revenues are on the table in budget talks

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) says that revenue is going to be on the table in upcoming budget talks.

Cole told Bloomberg Television that Republicans need to be ready to consider trading new government revenues for entitlement savings as part of a deal to roll back automatic sequestration cuts.

“The reality is, you're going to have to have a deal here. And a deal means everybody gives something up,” said Cole, a member of the budget conference and a leadership ally. “Now, again, we're much more into what I'd call pro-growth revenue.”

Both top Democrats and Republicans have said that they’re not expecting a broad budget deal to emerge by the Dec. 13 deadline.

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But Cole said he still thought there was a better than even shot that the conference would reach a deal.

The agreement, Cole predicted, could involve curbing tax breaks — something he acknowledged made some Republicans uncomfortable, and an idea that he said pushed him beyond GOP orthodoxy on tax policy.

“It depends on how big a deal the Democrats want to do and whether or not we want to connect this with a larger tax reform issue, which I think we can and should do,” Cole said.

Allowing companies to bring back offshore profits at a lower rate or increasing oil-and-gas exploration were just two ideas for raising revenues the Oklahoma Republican raised — echoing what he had told reporters at the Capitol this week.

"They can get revenue," Cole said Wednesday. "They’re not going to get tax increases."

GOP lawmakers have long said they’ll only agree to raising revenues through an overhaul of the tax code that sparks economic growth, using so-called “dynamic” scoring to estimate the economic impact.

Republicans in Congress have also dug in even deeper on taxes after this year’s fiscal-cliff deal raised some $600 billion in new revenues. Most of them have also signed the anti-tax pledge administered by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, which says that the elimination of tax credits and deductions needs to be offset elsewhere.

Democrats, meanwhile, generally dismiss dynamic scoring, which also isn’t a part of official Congressional Budget Office scores.

Cole, a member of the Appropriations panel, is the only one of the four House GOP conferees to not sit on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

Republicans on that panel have set an aggressive goal for cutting rates in tax reform, and would need to rely on the scrapping of tax breaks to make up for the lost revenue.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), for instance, has rolled out tax reform proposals that include the repatriation of offshore corporate income.

—Russell Berman contributed.