Sen. Coburn calls entitlements ‘out of whack’

Updated

Yes, Republicans could raise tax revenues on the wealthiest Americans, says Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, but it wouldn’t be a cure-all.

“There’s no question we can have the rich pay more, but that won’t solve our problem,” he told Hardball’s Chris Matthews on Monday. He said the real issue was the country has an entitlement system “out of whack” and that there have been too many discretionary spending increases.

To close the deficit, Coburn argued, the country needs to spend less and raise revenue–mostly by eliminating loopholes and deductions. “We have to make sure that whatever we do does not hurt us but gets us on the way to recovery,” said Coburn.

Some Republicans are distancing themselves from GOP power broker Grover Norquist’s tax pledge to raise taxes on the rich to avoid the looming fiscal cliff.

Matthews said it appears that the liberal caucus, led by Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), won’t give in until they “see teeth marks in the neck of Eric Cantor and [John] Boehner,” unless they see the president has really gone in there and raised taxes on the rich.”

Coburn, who did not say whether or not he agreed with Norquist, acknowledged that the Republicans “have a demographic problem and an entitlement problem.” He continued, “It is true some of the wealthy are very well protected in terms of the tax code. We need to eliminate that. It is true there’s going to be a point of time when we can’t borrow any more money and interest rates will skyrocket.” He stressed the need to leave partisanship behind and for lawmakers to “come together to solve problems for our country.”

Sen. Coburn calls entitlements 'out of whack'

Updated