GOP unanimity against Obama’s proposal to increase tax rates for rich Americans started to shake after a Republican congressman, , announced that he would support an agreement with the president to increase tax rates for the wealthy but expand tax cuts for Americans with earnings lower than $250,000 per year.
President Obama has long been saying that he is ready to restrain expenditures, including on entitlement programs. All he wants in return is increasing the tax rate on the wealthy, while retaining the same tax for the middle class.
At a time when Congress is expediting its work to ward off a cycle of tax increases and expenditure cuts because of the fiscal cliff, Cole said Wednesday that the GOP should endorse an agreement guaranteeing 98 percent of Americans do not bear tax hike that puts the economic recovery at risk.
"If we have an opportunity to, right now, secure the Bush tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people ... and then continue to fight on these other issues, I think we should do that," Cole told Reuters in an interview.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) countered Cole, saying that even though Cole is a friend and supporter, he deviates completely from his position.
“The goal here is to grow the economy and control spending. You’re not going to grow the economy if you raise tax rates on the top two rates,” Boehner said, according to LA Times.
The GOP has been inflexible regarding enlarging the lower tax rates for all taxpayers, including people with income exceeding $250,000 a year. After Cole’s statement, the Obama administration has voiced its hopefulness that some conservatives are becoming lenient in their stances on taxes.
According to reports, President Obama held meeting Wednesday with top executives of major corporations, including the CEOs of Yahoo Inc. and Goldman Sachs. The leaders of the top companies said they support an agreement that increases tax rates for rich Americans like themselves.
Cole, who formerly led the House Republican campaign team, is counted among the GOPs most realistic members and a faithful follower of Boehner. According to some analysts, Cole’s suggestion could politically protect the Republicans by assuring most Americans lower tax rates without pushing legislators to vote for higher tax rates for the rich, which would start to happen without any involvement if Congress does nothing.