Republican Rep. Tom Cole urgedcolleagues in a private session Tuesday to vote to extend the Bush tax ratesfor all but the highest earners before the end of the year -- and to battle overthe rest later.
The Oklahoma Republican said in aninterview with KTUL.com's Washington-based sister website POLITICO that hebelieves such a vote would not violate Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge andthat he's not alone within Republican circles.
At a meeting of the House GOP whip teamearlier in the day, he made the case that Republicans would strengthen theirposition by joining hands with President Barack Obama now to give mosttaxpayers what he calls "an early Christmas present" of ensuring their taxesdon't go up on Jan. 1.
Cole's position is striking because he'shardly a "squish" -- Norquist's term for a weak-kneed lawmaker -- when it comesto Republican orthodoxy. Cole served as chairman of the National RepublicanCongressional Committee and in other official posts within the party.
He might also provide cover for otherRepublicans looking to make an agreement to avoid a sharp fall off theso-called fiscal cliff.
"I think we ought to take the 98 percentdeal right now," he said of freezing income tax rates for all but the top 2percent of earners. "It doesn't mean I agree with raising the top 2. I don't."