GOP Rep. Cole: Take Obama’s offer to gain tax cuts for ‘98 percent’

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Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said Sunday that House Republicans should agree to extending tax cuts for the majority of U.S. taxpayers.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Cole continued to champion his case that the GOP caucus should take the deal that President Obama is offering: keeping tax rates in place for those making less than $250,000 a year, while allowing rates to increase on the wealthy.

Cole said no one wants to see higher taxes, but noted that unless Congress acts, everyone’s tax rates will go up.

“So just let’s make sure for the 98 percent, they know they’re not. We can continue to fight on the other two percent and the higher rates,” Cole said.

The Oklahoma Republican said this would swing leverage over to Republicans in their negotiations with the White House to avoid going over the “fiscal cliff” — a set of massive tax increases and budget cuts that will go into effect early next year unless Congress acts.

“It’s quite the opposite. We gain leverage,” Cole said.

Not everyone is on board with Cole’s suggestion though within the House Republican caucus. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said the election results show that tax increases are not what voters wanted.

“We won the House,” Blackburn said, appearing with Cole on CNN. “The American people have clearly said we don’t want our taxes to go up.”

The Tennessee Republican said she doesn’t see support for tax rates going up among House Republicans. That said, they are more open to tax reform that could bring in new tax revenue.

“I’m not sure there’s support for the rate hikes. There is support for revenue by cleaning up the code,” Blackburn said.  

Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) has proposed bringing in $800 billion in new tax revenue by likely capping or eliminating tax deductions. Cole said Boehner is on the right path but that compromise is on the cards.

“We are not getting 100 percent of what we want, but we can get a lot. John Boehner is trying to focus us where it belongs, and that’s on spending restraint and entitlement reform because this revenue won’t come close to dealing with our fiscal problems,” Cole said.

He also said Americans don’t want any tax rates to go up but they would take a deal that protected the majority of them from tax increases.

“But if I get a deal that protects 98 percent of them and leaves me free to continue the fight, they would say take that deal, that’s progress, that’s maybe working together across the aisle a bit and get it done,” Cole said.