Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) warned on Wednesday that the debate over the looming fiscal cliff could "poison" the next four years if Democrats and Republicans don't learn to work together.


"If either side feels like they quote 'won' in the negotiation, two things will happen," he told the Associated Press in an interview. "One, we won't have solved the problem, because it is going to take real concessions from both sides to actually get there. Two, it will poison the next four years. The President is going to be the president for the next four years, the Speaker is likely to be the speaker certainly for two but probably for four years as well."

Cole noted that Republicans had no power to prevent tax increases in some form or another. If Republicans "dig in," taxes will "actually go up on everybody," he cautioned.

Proposals to avert the fiscal cliff -- a combination of across-the-board budget cuts and tax increases -- have met an impasse as Republicans refuse to allow tax increases on those making more than $250,00 annually while calling for steeper spending cuts. Cole said that the staled negotiations over the fiscal cliff sent a message of incompetence and warned against waiting to compromise until the 11th hour.

The Oklahoma congressman has previously said he supports a bill to extend tax cuts for the middle-class. The legislation has been approved by the Senate, but is held up in the House, where Republicans have called for the tax cuts to be extended for the middle-class and wealthy alike.

Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by the Associated Press, below: