Sen. Tom Coburn says U.S. "in trouble," open to talks with Democrats on taxes

Coburn: Congress lacks courage
Tom Coburn

A conservative Oklahoma senator on Monday said he is open to talking with President Obama and congressional Democrats on their desire to make the very wealthiest Americans pay higher taxes in order to reduce the ballooning U.S. budget deficit.

"Our country's in trouble," Coburn said in a townhall with CBS News taped at the Newseum on Monday. That is "the reason I'll stand up as a conservative Republican, one of the biggest deficit hawks in Congress and say 'I'll negotiate on taxes,'" Coburn said.

The one-hour town hall will air Tuesday morning at 8:00 am ET on "The Early Show."

The U.S. is expected to post a record $1.4 trillion deficit this year, matching the previous record from fiscal year 2009, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

President Obama and Republicans in Congress struck a deal last December to extend for two more years the tax cuts that had been set to expire at the end of last year. The compromise allowed for an extension of tax cuts for all income levels that were a signature of President George W. Bush's administration.

Mr. Obama had wanted the tax cuts on the wealthiest earners to expire, effectively raising the rate on the top two percent of taxpayers to rates as high as 39.6 percent. Republicans insisted on the lower rates for all earners.

"The reason our country's at risk is because we think short term, rather than thinking about the future of our country," Coburn said, adding that the main focus for lawmakers in Washington "is short-term political expediency."

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Coburn says Congress should be thrown in jail
Transcript of the full CBS News Town Hall on "The Early Show"

Watch the full CBS News Town Hall below:


Below, CBS News' Rebecca Jarvis and MoneyWatch.com's Jill Schlesinger speak with the live audience on whether they were satisfied with responses to their questions:

  • Corbett Daly On Twitter»

    CBSNews.com Deputy Politics Editor Corbett B. Daly is based in Washington. He has worked at Reuters, Thomson Financial News and CBS MarketWatch.

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