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Leading GOP Budget Hawk at Odds with Republican Leaders

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) told ABC News that the federal debt is now so out of control that the credit rating of the United States is in jeopardy -- and the only way to deal with it is a bipartisan agreement that increases tax revenues.

"The fact is we're at the lowest tax rate this country's been in a hundred years," Coburn said. "And nobody believes that we're going to get a bipartisan agreement without some way to increase revenue for the federal government.  We're also at the lowest level in a long time in terms of revenues coming in."

Increasing tax revenues, Coburn said, does not mean increasing tax rates.  Higher revenues could be accomplished by closing tax loopholes for individuals and/or corporations.

"Do I want tax rates to rise?  Absolutely not. Will I fight that? Yeah," Coburn said. "Would I agree to a plan that would create great economy that would markedly increase revenues to the federal government?  You bet.  And that's what I want to do."

Earlier this week, Coburn dropped out of the so-called Gang of Six, a bipartisan group of Senators that has been working for months to find an agreement to curtail entitlement spending and reduce the deficit.

Coburn says he left the Gang of Six because he reached an impasse with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) about the need for specific cuts to Medicare and other popular entitled programs and needed "a good cooling off period."

"We had a conversation, very frank and where I needed him to go, he couldn't and where I wanted to go, he couldn't so what you need to do is back off and see if you can do something different," Coburn said.

He still hopes the Gang of Six can eventually reconvene and come to an agreement.  In the meantime, Coburn is going to put together his own list of spending cuts totaling a whopping $9 trillion over 10 years -- a level of spending cuts that would go far beyond even the $6 trillion in cuts proposed by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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