the Democrats' New Favorite Republican: Oklahoma's Tom Cole

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By Ashley Portero | December 5, 2012 8:12 AM EST

U.S. Rep. John Cole of Oklahoma is Democrats’ new favorite Republican.

After publicly suggesting House Speaker John Boehner should accept President Barack Obama’s offer to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class –while allowing them to expire for the wealthy – as part of a deficit reduction plan to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, Cole has been hailed by some as the one reasonable House Republican willing to break with the GOP for the sake of his constituents.

As a result, the left-leaning Americans for Tax Fairness on Tuesday announced it would deliver more than 7,000 petitions to Cole’s Capitol Hill office, reportedly sent in response to an e-mail campaign to thank the congressman for standing up to the congressional Republican leadership.

“Right now, Republicans in Congress are debating what to do about Representative Tom Cole, the staunch conservative from Oklahoma who is standing up to House Speaker John Boehner. Representative Cole has publicly stated what we’ve been saying for a long time: Republicans shouldn’t hold tax cuts for 98% of Americans hostage to their demand to get huge new tax breaks for the richest 2%,” states the petition.

Boehner, as well as other members of the Republican leadership, has adamantly refused to consider allowing the tax breaks for the wealthy to expire as part of any deficit reduction deal. Meanwhile, Obama has said he would reject any proposal that does not include those cuts, leaving Democrats and Republicans at a virtual stalemate only weeks before approximately $7 trillion worth of tax increases and spending cuts are scheduled to kick in.

There is one central question Democrats and Republicans continue to disagree on: How to create more revenue. The Obama administration has proposed extending the Bush-era tax cuts only for households with incomes below $250,000, a strategy Democrats say would be the first step toward raising funds that could tackle the nation’s soaring debt.

But Republicans insist on renewing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, instead suggesting changes to the tax code, such as limiting deductions and closing loopholes, could raise about $800 billion in revenue. GOP leaders are also pushing Democrats to accept serious cuts in entitlement programs as part of any compromise.

Meanwhile, some conservative Republicans are balking at the prospect of what they said is a $800 billion "tax hike" in Boehner's plan, instead calling on the House Speaker to focus on cutting more government spending.

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