Republicans need to let tax rates on the rich rise to change the "fiscal cliff" debate from taxes to more important entitlement reforms, Republican Sen. Bob Corker told CNBC on Monday.
"The best place for Republicans to be is to pass the rate increases, be done with it and then we're still focused on the right thing, which is entitlement changes," he said in an interview on "Squawk on the Street."
Over the weekend, Corker and a handful of other Republicans including Sen. Tom Coburn and Rep. Tom Cole, both from Oklahoma, signaled a willingness to let taxes rise.
Corker said Republicans have put themselves in a very "awkward place" as it relates to taxes on the wealthy, since it makes it appear that the party is only trying to protect the rich.
The deadline for avoiding the "fiscal cliff" is only three weeks from Tuesday. If a deal can't be reached by then, more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts automatically go into effect, threatening to throw the economy back into recession.
President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner met on Sunday, raising hopes for a deal. (Read More: '40% Chance' of Fiscal Cliff Deal Before Year End: Bowles.)
The two sides declined to provide details about the meeting. In a statement Monday, Boehner's office said: "The Republican offer made last week remains the Republican offer, and we continue to wait for the president to identify the spending cuts he's willing to make as part of the 'balanced' approach he promised the American people." (Read More: Obama Hits the Road Amid Signs of 'Cliff' Progress.)