Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole Urges GOP to Join with Obama on Taxes
Republican Rep. Tom Cole
Republican Rep. Tom Cole urged
colleagues in a private session Tuesday to vote to extend the Bush tax rates
for all but the highest earners before the end of the year — and to battle over
the rest later.
The Oklahoma Republican said in an
interview with KTUL.com's Washington-based sister website POLITICO that he
believes such a vote would not violate Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge and
that he's not alone within Republican circles.
At a meeting of the House GOP whip team
earlier in the day, he made the case that Republicans would strengthen their
position by joining hands with President Barack Obama now to give most
taxpayers what he calls "an early Christmas present" of ensuring their taxes
don't go up on Jan. 1.
Cole's position is striking because he's
hardly a "squish" — Norquist's term for a weak-kneed lawmaker — when it comes
to Republican orthodoxy. Cole served as chairman of the National Republican
Congressional Committee and in other official posts within the party.
He might also provide cover for other
Republicans looking to make an agreement to avoid a sharp fall off the
so-called fiscal cliff.
"I think we ought to take the 98 percent
deal right now," he said of freezing income tax rates for all but the top 2
percent of earners. "It doesn't mean I agree with raising the top 2. I don't."