It appears that at least three Oklahoma Republican political leaders have accepted that President Barack Obama was really reelected and that their political party needs to start compromising with him on some level.
It may not mean much nationally as the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations drag on, but let’s hope it’s the beginning of a trend here of more rational conservative approaches to governance.
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, pictured right, and U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn have signaled a willingness to compromise with the president on taxes, and Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller has praised their positions while arguing that it’s “conservative to be cautious in our approach to needed income tax reduction” in Oklahoma.
Cole came under fire from some fellow Republicans recently when he suggested his party should accept Obama’s offer to extend tax cuts to Americans with incomes below $250,000 annually, which represents 98 percent of the population, and then negotiate other budget issues. All of the Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire Jan. 1 unless Congress acts on the issue before then.
Just yesterday, Coburn’s comments that he would prefer raising tax rates on the wealthiest Americans over capping deductions received widespread media interest. Coburn said, ” . . . I would rather see the rates go up than do it the other way, because it gives us greater chance to reform the tax code and broaden the base in the future.”
Meanwhile, Miller published an opinion piece recently that praised Cole and Coburn efforts at compromise. In that article, Miller also discussed efforts to reduce Oklahoma’s income tax rate, which failed in the legislature last session. Miller argues:
Is it not conservative to be cautious in our approach to needed income tax reduction, to protect the state credit rating, to pay our debts and to ensure sufficient funding for core services with a diversified and dependable revenue structure?
I would argue with the word “needed” in terms of a tax cut in the above paragraph, but I do agree with the overall argument, which contradicts those Oklahoma conservatives who think reducing the income tax is a magic elixir for the state’s economy and should be done at whatever immediate costs to core services.
Cole, Coburn and Miller are not abandoning conservative principles. They are actually promoting basic conservative principles and perhaps helping to rescue the GOP political brand on a national level. We can vehemently oppose their overall political positions, but at least their current stances on taxes contain a degree of sanity that allows for debate.
The tax policies advocated by Norquist’s group, Americans for Tax Reform, and, locally, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank, reduce conservatism to robotic subservience to the interests of the country’s wealthiest citizens. If Cole, Coburn and Miller represent a trend of redefining and broadening conservatism in the GOP nationally and in Oklahoma, then that’s good news.