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Representative Cole says deal is far from the end of negotiations

Filed by KOSU News in Feature, Politics.
January 4, 2013
 

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Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) has been one of the leading voices on the fiscal issues facing the country. He first proposed Republicans working with President Obama to extend the Bush tax cuts for 98% of Americans, then negotiate over tax cut extensions for the top 2%. But after House Speaker John Boehner spoke out against the plan, it faded away.

Turns out, the final solution pretty much looked like Cole’s proposal, which came in late November. I talked with Cole about what happened, and where things go from here.

How do you balance what you want, and what you can reasonably expect?

You have to look at what the distribution of political power around the table that’s making the decision is…The Democrats have leverage. You also have to look at is something going to happen automatically if you don’t act? And that’s what would have occurred. It took us acting to prevent a major tax increase on almost every single American. And that gives you less leverage.

We’re moving into about a 90 day window where we’re going to have major spending fights. We have the sequester, it’s been taken care of for only 2 months, what’s called the continuing resolution, that’s Congress’s spending authority, only lasts until the end of the March, and then of course, there’s the debt ceiling. Those give you a lot of leverage if you want to cut spending.

Spending cuts were in place. These were sequester cuts that were supposed to be so painful that everyone would come together and act? That didn’t happen.

Well in a sense it did. Not completely, and not at the time they were supposed to. But last night (Tuesday night) people did act. They took care of part of the problem. They took care of the revenue portion of it.

Republicans have leverage?

I believe we do. This is one of those situations where you have to look at this honestly and say ‘We can’t extend all the Bush tax cuts without the consent of the President and Democratic Senate, they’re not going to give us that consent, what’s the best deal we can get?” We got an awfully good deal if we look at it that way.

Deal adds 4 trillion to the debt over the next ten years?

No it doesn’t add 4 trillion. That’s CBO accounting. (Congressional Budget Office).The CBO assumes that all the Bush tax cuts would end. The Bush tax cuts were never going to all end. That is a mischaracterization. Actually, the budget deficit is smaller today, by a few hundred billion dollars, than it would’ve been.

They don’t cost anything. They don’t happen until they happen. Nobody was proposing that all the tax cuts end. And they’re not tax cuts, nobody’s paying lower taxes today than they did yesterday. We’re just saying we’re not raising them beyond this level.

The President have to lead on spending and entitlements. That’s they’re most precious thing. We’ll see whether or not he will. I have to tell ya, I have grave doubts. I hope he will. I think I’ve demonstrated that I can work with the President, now I think he needs to demonstrate he can work with the Republican Congress.

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