After House Speaker John Boehner made his first counter offer to President Obama during this stalemate over the so-called "fiscal cliff," Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) did his best to give Boehner and his disingenuous offer some cover.
As host Soledad O'Brien pointed out, the math doesn't add up and she pushed back at Coburn's assertion that John Boehner was citing a "plan" from Erskine Bowles. As John already told us here, even Bowles himself called Speaker Boehner out for that one.
That didn't stop the Senator from attempting to paint their proposal as some sort of reasonable compromise, which it's not. Coburn also used this as an opportunity to push his yearly exercise and his latest report, titled "Subsidies of the Rich and Famous."
As Marie Burns explained after The New York Times editors praised Coburn's report, Coburn’s plan is anything but populist:
The editors do note, as an aside, that “the senator remains opposed to raising tax rates on the rich,” but they drop that factoid without further remark. That aside, it turns out, is more important than the editors let on. Perhaps they would have found Coburn’s populism less convincing had they read Charles Pierce’s take on Coburn’s motives. In his Esquire blog, Pierce writes:
The problem, of course, is that, even if you believe Coburn is sincere, and not using this as a dodge to avoid putting the top rate back where it belongs, every one of these loopholes can be recreated in a heartbeat when the ‘millionaires and billionaires’ and their tax lawyers get a hold of whatever ‘reform’ passes to close them.
Oh, and another thing. The New York Times editors don’t even mention this nugget from the last paragraph of Coburn’s cover letter: …
we expect everyone to contribute and to demonstrate personal responsibility. Government policies intended to mainstream wealth redistribution are undermining these principles.
Coburn expects “everyone to contribute”? What does that mean? Here’s a translation: Flat Tax. Tom Coburn is a member of the Congressional Flat Tax Caucus. This summer, in response to a Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorial writer’s question, a spokesperson for Coburn replied, “The senator ” would prefer to get rid of all subsidies and move toward a flat tax .”
Loopholes or no, we have a progressive federal income tax. The wealthy pay at a higher rate than do lower income taxpayers. The rate is not progressive enough, and surely the loopholes Coburn highlights mitigate the income tax’s progressive aspect. But to move from a progressive tax, which is what the income tax was intended to be and always has been, to a flat tax, would change the very purpose and concept of the federal income tax. It would also work an immediate hardship on poor and middle class Americans. [...]
So yes, it’s pretty easy to agree with Tom Coburn’s zeal for cutting tax loopholes for the rich. But the editors of the New York Times misled their readers by suggesting that Coburn had the “less fortunate” in mind when he compiled his report. The editors had a duty to tell us that Coburn’s agenda doesn’t stop with closing loopholes, loopholes that can be reopened at the whim of Congress or the ingenuity of a tax lawyer. The premise that underlies Coburn’s plan is anything but populist. It is not born out of a concern for “the less fortunate.”
This is nothing new for Coburn. Here's more from Jon Perr on his appearance on Charlie Rose's show last year: Coburn Turns to Myth-Making on the Debt:
At a time when the federal tax burden is at its lowest since 1950, Coburn like his GOP colleagues refused to countenance raising new tax revenue. And when fellow Gangsta Dick Durbin balked at Coburn’s demand to slash another $150 billion from Medicare on top of the $400 billion pledged by President Obama, Coburn stormed out.
Now, Coburn is back, pushing his plan co-authored by Joe Lieberman to drain $600 billion from Medicare over the next decade. Those savings come from raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67, means-testing wealthier beneficiaries, adding new co-pays and a $550 deductible, and instituting a new $7,500 maximum for “out of pocket” expenses.
Go read the rest of both posts, but it's just more of the same from the Koch brothers backed Coburn and his cohorts in the GOP. They know who they're looking out for and it sure isn't the working class in America.
The one thing I was grateful for with this interview is that it was Soledad O'Brien, who was filling in for Erin Burnett on CNN. At least Coburn got some push back on a number of his assertions, but sadly it didn't stop him from being allowed to tell a ton of lies that weren't challenged before he got off the air.
Full transcript below the fold.
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