The Washington Times - December 9, 2012, 01:30PM

Two Republican senators on Sunday said they could support higher tax rates if Democrats will accept spending cuts on entitlements.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn said Republicans will have to compromise in the ongoing negotiations with Democrats to avoid the “fiscal cliff” — the automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect in January if lawmakers can’t reach a deal on the federal budget.


President Obama and Democrats have said tax rates on Americans earning more than $250,000 have to go up, while Republicans have insisted the George W. Bush-era tax cuts must be preserved.

Both Mr. Corker and Mr. Coburn, in separate appearances on the Sunday news talk shows, said it’s time for Republicans to make a deal.

“There is a growing group of folks who are looking at this and realizing we don’t have a lot of cards as it relates to the tax issue before year’s end. A lot of people are putting forth a theory — and I actually think it has merit — where you go and you give the president the 2 percent increase that he’s talking about, the rate increase on the top 2 percent, and all of a sudden the shift goes back to entitlements,” Mr. Corker said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“And all of a sudden, once you give him a top rate on the 2 percent, it’s actually a much lesser tax increase than what he’s been talking about,” he said. “I actually am beginning to believe that is the best route for us to take to again shift the focus to where it needs to be, which is entitlements.”

Mr. Coburn, appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” said he would accept a tax increase as part of a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, but he warned that the tax increase on high earners doesn’t come close to addressing the country’s spending problems.

“The president’s proposing 7 percent of the solution,” he said. “What we ought to be working on is the other 93 percent, because even if you do what he wants to do on tax rates, you only affect 7 percent of the deficit. What we have done is spend ourselves into a hole, and we’re not going to raise taxes and borrow money and get out of it.”