Looks like Rep. Tom Cole is still out there taking the hit for Speaker John Boehner and giving him some cover from the "tea party" wingnuts in the House that think compromise of any sort is akin to treason: Key Republican Says Middle Class Tax Cuts Would Pass The House:
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.
I don't think he's doing any of this without Boehner's full approval. They want those social safety nets slashed and are backed into a corner on the tax increases and in a bad negotiating position right now. And as Think Progress noted:
Despite their rhetorical support, however, Republican members have yet to sign the discharge petition filed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that would force the House to vote on the middle-income tax cut extension.
So talk is cheap. They're going to give an inch when they're forced to or when they start hearing from enough of their donors and/or constituents that have finally had a belly full of them.
Transcript below the fold.
CROWLEY: Congressman, what is the art of the doable here for Republicans?
COLE: Well, the first thing that's doable is to take the things you agree on and get them off of the table.
CROWLEY: And that would be tax cuts for people...
COLE: ...get it done.
CROWLEY: In your caucus, do you have a lot of -- is there a lot of burgeoning Republican support for that?
COLE: Yeah, honestly I think if it got to the floor, it would carry.
CROWLEY: Ah, well in the House that's the big deal, though, is getting it on the floor.
COLE: I think it would. 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.
Then move on. The speaker has put out a proposal that does not raise rates, that does generate revenue. That makes a lot of sense to me.
But you have to always remember at the end of the month taxes are going to go up for everybody. So let's make sure where we can we save as many of those tax cuts for as many people as possible and continue to fight. You know, it's not waving a white flag to recognize political reality.
CROWLEY: If Speaker Boehner comes to you all with a package that promises entitlement reform, or puts us on a path to it, or whatever, it does the same thing when it comes to spending cuts, does he have support within the caucus for raising tax rates?
COLE: Well, remember, tax rates are going up anyway. So we're not, quote, raising them. That's current law. Now I think what the speaker has supported -- and you should look at the proposal he put out, the most interesting thing to me was every single one of our major leaders signed it, Paul the major committee chairman, including Paul Ryan who really has an obvious outsized role because of his vice presidential nomination signed it.
CROWLEY: That's $800 billion worth of revenue.
COLE: And so this is a speaker that's very strong. This is a speaker that got us through a tough election and retained our majority. I actually think this is a speaker at the peak of his power.
Now the president is going to have to deal with him. And it's not just about this period of time, it's about the next four years. The president will be president for four years, John Boehner is very likely to be speaker for four years. So this is the first part of a relationship that's going to stretch for years and they both need one another to succeed.
But honestly, the president needs John Boehner more than John Boehner needs the president.