Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)Â said Tuesday that Republicans in Congress should allow the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire, arguing that it wouldnâ€™t violate their pledge not to raise taxes.
Speaking at a private session, the former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman said his party should agree to tax cuts for income under $250,000 a year, avert the fiscal cliff and argue over tax cuts for the wealthy later.
â€śI think we ought to take the 98 percent deal right now,â€ť heÂ told Politico after the session. â€śIt doesnâ€™t mean I agree with raising the top 2. I donâ€™t.â€ť
After an hourlong meeting of House Republicans, Speaker John A. BoehnerÂ (R-Ohio) said that he told Cole in front of the entire conference that his views were wrong. "I disagreed with him. ... This is not the rightÂ approach," Boehner told reporters. He said that the leadership team stuckÂ by its position of raising tax revenue through closingÂ loopholes but not by increasing individual tax rates.
Cole had argued that Democrats have leverage because they can say that Republicans are holding up renewing the tax cuts for the 98 percent.Â
â€śSome people think thatâ€™s our leverage in the debate. Itâ€™s the Democratsâ€™ leverage in the debate,â€ť he said.
Cole also said that not voting to renew a tax cut shouldnâ€™t be seen as violating a pledge not to raise taxes because itâ€™s technically not a vote that raises taxes. Grover Norquist, the sponsor of the pledge,Â seemed to say the same thing in a 2011 interview with The Washington Post editorial board, but has since said that he was misquoted.
â€śI donâ€™t see that as a violation of my pledge,â€ť Cole said.
In an interview with Politico on Wednesday morning, Norquist dismissed Cole's words as an attempt at negotiation, not intent. A handful of Republicans are "thinking about maybe voting for tax increases," he said, but "only under these circumstance that would never happen."Â
Raising taxes on household income over $250,000 remains a broadly popular approach to dealing with the countryâ€™s budgetary woes, according to aÂ new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Paul Kane contributed to this report.