Cole: One Republican Ready to Deal

Photograph by Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg

President Barack Obama signs into law an $858 billion bill extending the Bush-era tax cuts for two more years on Dec. 17, 2010.

Count Tom Cole among the congressmen ready to cut a deal.

The Republican representative from Oklahoma says he has advised fellow Republicans that they should accede to President Barack Obama’s demand that Congress extend the Bush-era tax cuts for American families with annual incomes of less than $250,000 and for individuals who make less than $200,000 a year.

“This is a question of political tactics, not political theology,” Cole said today.

“We are not going to raise taxes on those people” so “we ought to go make that abundantly clear to everybody, take them out of the negotiations” on a broader deal to reform the tax code and cut spending, Cole told reporters.

Cole offered his tactical advice to fellow Republicans in closed-door meetings when asked for his opinion on how to proceed. His idea: Go ahead and preserve the tax cuts for most people and have another debate about taxing the wealthiest Americans down the road.

Republicans won’t “lose leverage at all” by extending the lower tax rates for 98 percent of taxpayers, he said. “I actually think that’s Democrats’ leverage, not ours,” he said.

Democrats have accused Republicans of holding hostage the extension of the middle-class tax cuts to force Congress to extend them for the wealthiest Americans. Protecting the vast majority of taxpayers by year’s end would quash the complaint about Republicans.


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