Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), arguably the most prominent fiscal conservative in the Senate, is declaring his independence from one of the country's leading anti-tax groups, Americans for Tax Reform - and its fiery founder, Grover Norquist.
Coburn, a member of the "Gang of Six" bipartisan group working on a deficit reduction plan, said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he'd favor a "net" increase in tax revenue if it didn't include hiking rates. He'd do so even if didn't include a dollar-for-dollar match in spending cuts he agreed to when he signed a 2004 pledge to Norquist's group.
"Which pledge is most important... the pledge to uphold your oath to the Constitution of the United States or a pledge from a special interest group who claims to speak for all American conservatives when, in fact, they really don't?" Coburn asked. "The fact is we have enormous urgent problems in front of us that have to be addressed and have to be addressed in a way that will get 60 votes in the Senate... and something that the president will sign."
"Where's the compromise that will save our country?" he asked. "This isn't about politics that is normal."
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a Gang of Six leader, refused to say when the group would release its plan, though he said it would have to be soon if the Senate wanted to be relevant.
Both Coburn and Conrad declined to offer details of their plan but dropped a few possible clues: no middle-class tax hikes, closing offshore tax loopholes and some entitlement reforms