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Some Oklahoma Republicans ready to support higher taxes on wealthy

Facing a situation where no action will mean higher rates for all taxpayers, Sen. Tom Coburn and Rep. Tom Cole say their priority now is protecting the middle class.
by Chris Casteel Published: December 19, 2012

With tax hikes on all Americans looming in two weeks, some Republican members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation said Tuesday they were ready to vote on raising rates for upper-income taxpayers to avoid higher rates for the vast majority of people.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, and Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, said they could support a plan floated by House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday to extend the current tax rates for all of those making less than $1 million a year, while allowing the rates for those earning above $1 million to rise to levels of a decade ago.

If Congress takes no action on individual income tax rates, tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 — and extended in 2010 — would expire at the end of this month.

Boehner, R-Ohio, and President Barack Obama have been negotiating to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the expiring tax cuts and automatic spending cuts set to kick in within weeks.

Some economists have warned that the combination could lead to another recession.

The president campaigned on a pledge to extend the tax cuts for those families making less than $250,000 a year, but he has shown a willingness to raise that threshold. Boehner's plan, which the House may vote on this week, would only raise rates for those making more than $1 million.

Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, said he didn't know whether he would support Boehner's plan.

“None of us want to see taxes go up on anyone,” he said. “But it's automatic. So it's a quandary. For those who want to stand up say, ‘I'm going to oppose all tax increases' — really, how does that happen? How does that really occur at this point?

“You've got a Senate that is absolutely adamantly determined to raise taxes and you've got a president that's determined to raise taxes.

“The problem is we're in a situation where if we vote ‘no,' we actually raise taxes, and if we vote ‘yes' we actually raise taxes.”

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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