President Obama and John Boehner cancelled their Sunday brunch plans and instead sat down at the White House for a one-on-one discussion the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations. The details of the meeting — their first since Obama was reelected — are nonexistent. In a rare show of solidarity, their spokespeople released identical statements to the press acknowledging only that the conversation had taken place and that “lines of communication remain open.”
As the meeting took place, another Republicans publicly joined the ranks of those willing to cooperate with President Obama when it comes to raising tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. “There is a growing group of folks that are looking at this and realizing that we don’t have a lot of cards on the tax issue before year end,” said Tennessee Senator Bob Corker on Fox News Sunday. “A lot of people are putting forth a theory, and I actually think it has merit, where you go ahead give the president the two percent increase that he is talking about — the rate increase on the top two percent — and all of a sudden the shift goes back to entitlements.” Corker went on to argue that focusing on pushing entitlement reform “is the best route” available to the GOP at the moment.
Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who has already indicated that he would be open to raising taxes, echoed Corker’s comments. In an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Coburn said he would accept rate increases as part of a deal that included a commitment to “significant entitlement reform” on the part of the Democrats. However, he was quick to add that he believed that additional tax revenue would only affect 7 percent of the deficit. “The president’s negotiating with the wrong people,” Coburn said. “He needs to be negotiating with our bondholders in China, because if we don’t put a credible plan on the discussion, ultimately, we all lose.”
Meanwhile, on CNN, Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole urged his fellow Republicans to view an agreement to raise taxes on the wealthy as a temporary measure necessary to avoid the automatic rate hikes that will kick in for everyone at the end of the year if a deal is not reached. “We can continue to fight on the other two percent and the higher rates” after the fiscal cliff has been avoided, he said. “I get a deal that protects 98 percent of [people] and leaves me free to continue the fight, they would say take that deal, that’s progress, that’s maybe working together across the aisle a bit and get it done.”