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Coburn: 'I would rather see the tax rates go up' than cap deductions

"Personally, I know we have to raise revenue; I don't really care which way we do it," Coburn said during an appearance on MSNBC. "Actually, I would rather see the rates go up than do it the other way, because it gives us greater chance to reform the tax code and broaden the base in the future."

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Many Republicans favor the plan to limit deductions because they believe it would not violate the Grover Norquist-backed anti-tax pledge they signed during their campaigns. But President Obama warned Wednesday that such a plan could only feasibly raise $300 billion to $400 billion without affecting charities and nonprofits that rely on donations from wealthy taxpayers. The president has said he wanted $1.6 trillion in new revenues, with House Republicans offering around $800 billion, all of which they say can come from closing deductions and loopholes.

Coburn said that he believed both plans would ultimately hurt the economy, even though he would prefer for rates to go up if forced to choose.

"I think they're arguing over semantics. $800 billion is $800 billion, and it's still going to be a negative drag on the economy," Coburn said.

He also said he did not believe Republicans would offer additional revenues, saying a negative reaction from fiscal conservatives like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) had drawn "a line in the sand" in the negotiations.

"I think it actually helps [House Speaker John] Boehner [R-Ohio] in his negotiations because he's drawn line in the sand for fiscal conservatives, and it draws a line in the sand for Boehner and the White House of 'This is as far as you can go,' " Coburn said.

The Oklahoma lawmaker went on to urge negotiators to take a serious look at both tax and entitlement reform, arguing both were necessary to ensure the long-term viability of the economy.

"It's going to be worse than we think if we don't have grown-ups stop thinking about politics and work out the best solution we can for the future of our country," Coburn said.