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The Two Faces of Senator Tom Coburn
Nobody ever said Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) wasn't a complex man. In fact, he's so complex he managed to run in 2010 on one tax platform, and then completely and utterly abandon that position on taxes less than a month later.
Below is the entire tax platform (emphasis is mine) from Coburn's 2010 election webpage (if the link goes dead, you know who took it down):
I support a repeal of the current code, and favor its replacement with a simpler, flatter tax that treats all Americans fairly. I am co-sponsoring the Fair Tax Act, which will do away with our complex, multi-layered tax code and replace it with a national sales tax. This would negate the need for the massive and costly tax bureaucracy now in place. It would also make our products more competitively priced because it will remove the high costs already embedded into our products as a result of the current tax code.
It is clear that Washington has a spending addiction rather than a revenue problem. In fact, taxes are too high and have become a major burden for American families and businesses. The tax code is overly complex and costly, and backed by a system that assumes citizens are guilty until proven innocent. Further, American innovators are at a competitive disadvantage now because our nation has among the highest corporate tax rates in the world. Rather than figuring out creative ways to steal more of our hard earned money, Congress should focus on eliminating the more than $350 billion in documented waste, fraud, or abuse that occurs annually within the federal government.
Bravo, candidate Coburn. Now let's see what Senator Tom Coburn had to say less than a month later once his new six-year term was safely in hand:
Coburn still has not said how he’ll vote when President Barack Obama’s deficit commission’s recommendations come up for a vote Friday [he voted in favor of this tax hike plan], and some leading conservatives have praised the report for proposing spending cuts far greater than the revenue raisers on the tax side. But other conservative critics, such as Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, lampooned the proposal as “snake oil” that would lead to a “trillion-dollar tax hike.”
In an interview, Coburn acknowledged that he “may” violate Norquist’s no-tax pledge to reverse the $13 trillion national debt.
“Times are different,” he said. “We’ve never been here.”
Coburn added that his “real thought is that we’ve got plenty of money and our problem is spending. ... I’m not for a tax increase on anybody at any time for any reason. But that doesn’t mean for me to get the big spending cuts I wouldn’t agree to something.”
Coburn, who was elected to a second term in November, may have the liberty to take such positions because he’s abiding by a self-imposed limit and said he won’t seek a third term in 2016.
A few thoughts here:
Did times change so much from November 2010 to late November 2010? That doesn't hold water.
So Coburn believes that if massive spending cuts are supposedly on the table (fake spending cuts, really, in a re-run of the 1982 and 1990 budget deals), massive tax hikes are ok. If so, this is a brand new position for him.
- Perhaps 2010 candidate Coburn might have shared this change of opinion with voters rather than keeping it to himself in order to secure a final, six-year term. I wonder if Oklahoma conservatives think they got a fair shake in all this.