Sen. Pryor: We need comprehensive tax reform

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," April 17, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: It bombed. Senators shooting down plans what would have forced millionaires to pay a minimum tax rate. The president pushed hard for the bill named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

But my next guest did not obey orders. Democrat Senator Mark Pryor, he's with us.

Senator, you're the only Democrat to vote against the Buffett rule. Why did you do that?

SEN. MARK PRYOR, D-ARK.: Well, for several reasons.

One is, I think -- when I travel the state of Arkansas people are tired of the partisan games they see in Washington, D.C. And from my standpoint, honestly, both sides are wrong on taxes. I think, sometimes, President Obama, he doesn’t say this, but almost says, that basically if we just taxed millionaires enough, all of our problems will go away, in effect.

And, also, the Republicans I think are wrong on taxes too. They say we shouldn't raise taxes on anybody under any circumstances. And I think both of those approaches are wrong. And I think we need comprehensive tax reform. I do think millionaires should pay their fair share, but let’s do it as part of comprehensive tax reform along the lines that Simpson-Bowles laid out for us.

VARNEY: Tax reform to me and tax reform under Simpson-Bowles was basically that you would do away with a lot of loopholes, but you would also lower income tax rates. Is that what you mean by tax reform?

PRYOR: That is exactly what I mean.

And, listen, I don't agree with every single line in the Simpson-Bowles plan, but it gives us a framework that we can start with. And I think it really gives us a blueprint for how we do this.

And I am hopeful that at some point the Senate and the House will get serious about tax reform. And unfortunately we have a lot of people up here who are not very serious about it right now.

VARNEY: But do you think that there is developing consensus that says tax reform is the way to go? Again, that would be loopholes, some loopholes gone, and we can argue about that, but loopholes gone, tax rates down. Is there a developing consensus that you can see right now?

PRYOR: You know, I cannot say that. And partly that is because of the Grover Norquist phenomenon here, where you have so many Republicans who are committed to no new taxes. And again, I’m not trying to put words in their mouths, but it almost comes across as no new taxes under any circumstances and I think that's unwise.

VARNEY: Grover Norquist is our guest literally 15 minutes from now on this program.

PRYOR: Great.

VARNEY: And I will put that directly to him.

PRYOR: Exactly. You should ask him about it, because I didn't sign on to that tax pledge but most of the Republican senators have.

And, quite frankly, I think when you look at the circumstances we’re in now, I think they are different, and I think that you can justify doing tax reform, meaningful tax reform, along -- generally the lines that Simpson-Bowles recommended.

VARNEY: OK. So you are OK with bringing more money into the Treasury, so long as it is lowering rates and cutting out loopholes. That is your blueprint and that is what you like, yes?

PRYOR: I am OK with that, yes, sir.

VARNEY: Thanks for joining us, Senator Mark Pryor, Democrat, Arkansas. Thank you, sir.

PRYOR: Thank you. Let's do it again.

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