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Sen. Coats: Put Taxes, Ethanol Subsidies ‘On the Table’

Office of the United States Senator Dan Coats(WASHINGTON) -- House and Senate Republican leaders have made clear that tax increases can’t be part of the discussion over deficits and debt that President Obama had hoped to galvanize with a speech Wednesday afternoon.

But several rank-and-file Republicans in Congress are striking a different tone, casting taxes not as their preference but as something they need to invite into the discussion if they’re going to actually get something done in talks with the White House and Democrats in Congress.

Asked whether taxes should be part of the discussion over the deficit -- as the president has insisted -- Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., told ABC News: “Everything on the table.”

Reforming the tax code, Coats said, “has to be part of this package.” And the conversation needs to be broader, he said, even though he doesn’t want taxes overall to be any higher.

“Am I open to looking at the tax code? Absolutely. I'm part of a plan to do that. I'm glad the president is joining us. But I hope it's not just simply to raise taxes and raise revenue because the problem is spending, not taxes.”

Coats said he would also be willing to discuss phasing out subsidies for oil production and ethanol -- tax breaks he’s fought to maintain in the past.

“I said everything is on the table. And that includes ethanol, that includes oil subsidies. We have got -- I'm elected here to come to Washington to make the tough decisions. And even though they go against the political grain of things, no pun intended there regarding ethanol there -- I've talked to ethanol people. I've said that this is something that's got to make economic sense.”

“We may need phase down to the point where it does that. And I'm willing to put that on the table and have an honest discussion about it.”

Coats said he would vote for House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan. But he stopped short of an outright endorsement, saying he would also vote for other plans that he considers worthwhile contributions to the discussion.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

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