Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) said Sunday that middle income tax cuts would pass the House if brought up.
Asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” if he sees growing Republican support for the bill that GOP leaders oppose, he said, “Yeah, honestly I think if it got to the floor, it would carry.”
“I think it would,” said Cole, a deputy majority whip. “Look, that’s my judgment, but I spend a lot of time counting votes and looking around. But this doesn’t say we’re going to raise taxes on anybody, it says OK this group for sure, your taxes aren’t going up. Get that done with, get it over with.”
The remarks seem to undermine Speaker John Boehner’s hand in fiscal cliff negotiations with President Obama. The Speaker’s call for Obama to make concessions in the talks is built on the premise that the president’s plan for avoiding the cliff cannot pass both chambers of Congress.
“If the president doesn’t like our plan,” Boehner said in a Friday statement, “he has an obligation to send us one that can pass both houses of Congress as quickly as possible.”
Obama’s broader wish list — $1.6 trillion in tax hikes and a variety of spending cuts — is indeed dead on arrival in Congress. But extending the tax cuts for incomes below $250,000 would significantly limit the damage from the fiscal cliff, and the implication of Cole’s remark is that the obstacle to extending them is GOP leadership’s refusal to bring the bill to the floor.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) wasn’t convinced of Cole’s assessment.
“I’m not sure there is support for the rate hikes,” she said on “State of the Union.” “There is support for revenue by cleaning up the code.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.