Political Animal


July 20, 2011 12:35 PM Cantor’s wealthy backers: raise our taxes

By Steve Benen

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has scuttled any possible debt-reduction compromise, insisting House Republicans can’t agree to so much as a penny in new revenue. Every tax cut billionaires enjoy is sacred; every corporate-jet owner mustn’t be asked to sacrifice; every lucrative oil company must hang onto their tax subsidies.

Politico had an interesting item this morning, though, with a tidbit I haven’t seen elsewhere.

Adding an unusual twist to the political maneuvering, GOP aides say that wealthy donors have approached Cantor to push tax increases. […]

A few wealthy donors have called Cantor to tell him they wouldn’t mind if their taxes are raised. During two closed meetings this week — one with vote-counting lawmakers, and another with the entire conference — Cantor told colleagues that some well-heeled givers have told them they’re willing to pay more taxes. Cantor, according to an aide, has responded that House Republicans aren’t standing up for the wealthy, but rather for the middle class, who want to see their taxes stay low.

As a substantive matter, Cantor, as usual, has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. House Republicans are exclusively standing up for the wealthy, while demanding harsh cuts to public investments that benefit everyone else. For that matter, “the middle class” have said they want and fully expect tax increases to be part of a debt-reduction compromise.

But what I find most interesting about this is the fact that some wealthy donors — Republicans, mind you, not rich liberals — have gone to the trouble of contacting the House Majority Leader to give their blessing to raising their taxes. Cantor is fighting like hell to make sure these folks don’t have to pay an additional dime, but these same wealthy GOP contributors have effectively told the Majority Leader, “Go ahead; we don’t mind paying a little more.”

So, to review, the White House wants the wealthy to pay a little more; most the Senate wants the wealthy to pay a little more; the Gang of Six expects the wealthy to pay a little more; polls show the vast majority of the American public wants the wealthy to pay a little more; economists believe having the wealthy pay a little more won’t hurt the economy; and the wealthy themselves are comfortable with paying a little more.

But Eric Cantor and House Republicans still consider the very idea outrageous.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Danp on July 20, 2011 12:43 PM:

    The poll, released Tuesday, showed Bachmann topping all GOP candidates with 21 percent, followed by Romney with 20 percent

    We, the middle class demand our corporate jet depreciation schedules, our oil subsidies and our cuts in medicare! Now stop picking on Eric.

  • c u n d gulag on July 20, 2011 12:44 PM:

    But, but, what will happen if "The Job Creators" (the artists formerly known as 'the rich') agree to a few more dollars in taxes?

    Where, oh where, will the jobs come from for the lazy, good-for-nothing, money-grubbing leaches below them?

    Don't you hate it, Eric, when someone spoils your good meme?

  • Bernard gilroy on July 20, 2011 12:49 PM:

    Wel, clearly, these rich people are really also crypto-Marxists!

  • bdop4 on July 20, 2011 12:53 PM:

    "Cantor, according to an aide, has responded that House Republicans aren’t standing up for the wealthy, but rather for the middle class, who want to see their taxes stay low."

    Then just raise taxes on the wealthy. Now that wasn't hard, was it?

  • Joan on July 20, 2011 12:54 PM:

    Why is Cantor inserting himself in this as the leader? Is Boehner crying?
    Cantor must first ask permission of Grover the Norquist before he thinks about taxes.

  • Marko on July 20, 2011 12:56 PM:

    So, to review, the White House wants the wealthy to pay a little more; most the Senate wants the wealthy to pay a little more; the Gang of Six expects the wealthy to pay a little more; polls show the vast majority of the American public wants the wealthy to pay a little more; economists believe having the wealthy pay a little more won’t hurt the economy; and the wealthy themselves are comfortable with paying a little more.

    But the House GOP has sworn a Holy Oath not to raise taxes. And we all know what happened to George "Read My Lips" Bush when he said that. So they have painted themselves into a corner: They're damned if they do and they're damned if they don't. They know it and the hammer is coming down.

  • Curmudgeon on July 20, 2011 12:57 PM:

    Can you say, "Eric Cantor is a clueless sanctimonious prick"? I knew you could!!

  • zandru on July 20, 2011 1:03 PM:

    @Danp: Bingo! You've nailed it.

    Cantor and the rest of the Tea Baggers keep saying that they can't raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires because "people are hurting!"

    Frankly, I can't imagine how anyone pulling down over a million can conceivably be "hurting" ...

    "CODE onvedo" - maybe that's the explanation.

  • Vokoban on July 20, 2011 1:14 PM:

    History will be fair to each of them. But then again we all know that history has a liberal bias.

  • SYSPROG on July 20, 2011 1:17 PM:

    They live in a bubble that THEY made. The AMERICAN PEOPLE that they regularly tout don't believe a word they say. Of course, the 'job creators' want to pay more. They DON'T WANT the American people to go down the tubes...that's where they make their MONEY. Businesses understand demand...it's the rubes in Congress that are worried about Norquist, Bachmann and those pesky 'non-ladies'...

  • lou on July 20, 2011 1:19 PM:

    The question is whether these wealthy donors will take the next step and threaten his re-election if he doesn't stop this nonsense.

  • golack on July 20, 2011 1:21 PM:

    But I thought they only worked for the Koch brothers???

  • Stephen Stralka on July 20, 2011 1:23 PM:

    ...House Republicans aren’t standing up for the wealthy, but rather for the middle class, who want to see their taxes stay low.

    This is a grubby little ruse that I find perpetually annoying. Every time anyone talks about raising taxes, the Republicans pretend it means everyone's taxes are going to jump to 100%. In this case, no one is talking about raising taxes on the middle class, and surely Eric Cantor knows that.

    It's the same thing where they keep insisting that a tax increase on anyone making over $250,000 is going to hurt small businesses. Where are all these small business owners who are clearing more than $250,000 a year?

  • Mimikatz on July 20, 2011 1:26 PM:

    But were any of these among the 25 hedge fund managers who collectively made $22 billion last year? Those are the ones he listens to.

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. --Emerson. Cantor has a little mind.

  • jlt on July 20, 2011 1:33 PM:

    many of the Wall Streets have questioned to withdraw their support of cantor and he has taken to scrubbing his fb page to ignore the anger and condemnation of his behavior!

    Have you heard from him in the past few days ..since he tried an end run around boneher...He has been 'muted'!

  • Mitch on July 20, 2011 1:33 PM:

    These are only a few wealthy doners. They aren't oil companies or the heads of major corporations. Their words mean nothing.

    Not like it matters anyway. Cantor and his ilk are so straight-jacketed by ideology that God Himself could not sway their opinions.

  • Andrew on July 20, 2011 1:36 PM:

    Tell Congress to make a debt deal already and focus on jobs. Sign the petition here!

  • Brenna on July 20, 2011 1:39 PM:

    They're all scared to death of Grover Norquist, the true leader of the republican party.

  • bleh on July 20, 2011 1:40 PM:

    And Cantor isn't talking to the (few) wealthy individuals or the corporations. He's talking to the dimwitted masses who (1) are convinced, against all history and evidence, that someday they too will be wealthy (and would be today if it weren't for the lazy blacks and latinos and the militant feminazis and the meddling gummint bureaucrats), and (2) don't want a dime of their money going to those same lazy, militant, meddling, etc., which of course is where all tax dollars go, especially when Democrats have political power, since they're all lazy, militant, meddling, etc.

    When you think about THAT audience, his words and actions make sense. And that audience is a lot bigger, and a lot more likely to be influenced by what comes out of Cantor's mouth, than any of the others.

  • Redshift on July 20, 2011 1:44 PM:

    Maintaining their "no taxes" brand is more important than what any of their supporters, rich or not, want.

  • Shelly on July 20, 2011 1:44 PM:

    Isn't this an old post? I'm certain I've read this before...

  • Diane Rodriguez on July 20, 2011 1:47 PM:

    It's all about glory and power for Cantor. The "American People" whatever their political affiliation, have no place in his calculus at this point. I am hopeful his arrogance and stupdity will finally sink the pathetic weasel. I'm pretty sure that's what Boehner hopes too.

  • Conservative1 on July 20, 2011 1:57 PM:

    The self-interest of the wealthiest Americans was never likely to be tied for long to the Tea Party reactionaries. At the foundation of self-interest is the instinct of self-preservation, and if the Tea Party reactionaries' agenda ever became law, not only the country as a whole but also the wealthiest Americans would be pulled into the abyss.

  • Bill Mitchell on July 20, 2011 2:06 PM:

    The amusing part in all of this is that most wealthy people don't make their money from "income", they make it from investments.

    Nevertheless, I think you would find these wealthy folk who claim to want higher taxation all spend thousands (if not millions) a year employing tax lawyers to make sure the exact opposite happens. In other words, it's all BS.

    Those who truly feel their taxes are too high can simply complete a 1040 EZ and pay the most possible.

  • Bill Mitchell on July 20, 2011 2:08 PM:

    Let's take a poll with THIS question:

    "In order to reduce the deficit, would you personally be willing to pay more in taxes?"

    I promise you that the answer would be no 85% of the time. Of course people don't mind if someone else pays higher taxes.

    It's like asking people if we should build more oil refineries and then asking them is they would like it built next to their house.

  • exlibra on July 20, 2011 2:10 PM:

    Cantor, according to an aide, has responded that House Republicans aren’t standing up for the wealthy, but rather for the middle class, who want to see their taxes stay low. -- Politico

    Cantor is using McCain's definition of "middle class" -- anyone with $5 million or less in yearly income.

    "otterYou Thomas" Or, maybe, "etterYou Thomas". Either way, it applies to Eric, too.

  • Steve on July 20, 2011 2:16 PM:

    Republicans are not about to agree to tax increases just because some (or even if all) of the wealthy tell them it is okay, because the threat of the Democrats raising taxes is just too powerful a political tool. Their target audience is not the wealthy (though their target beneficiaries are), their target audience when they bray about tax increases is the largely poor and middle class Tea Party and their ilk.

  • Anonymous on July 20, 2011 2:21 PM:


    Each member of the GOP House of Representatives took this oath:

    “I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

    1) There is no mention of taking a no taxes pledge from some guy named Grover Norquist.

    2) There is no mention of surrendering your judgment to some guy named Grover Norquist.

    3) There is allegiance to the Constitution and the American people not some guy named Grover Norquist.

    Grover Norquist is not an elected official of the United States government. He has a “No Taxes Under Any Circumstances” religious cult that has infiltrated the Republican Party. They are like sheep.

    This is just outrageous and why it is not being discussed more in the media is a mystery to me. You can’t have allegiance to the Constitution (American people) and Grover Norquist at the same time. It is a violation of their oath of office. This is no way to run a democracy in the 21st century.


    Van Jones explains in less than one minute why the Grover Norquist no taxes pledge is a very bad idea:

    Van Jones slams Norquist's taxpayer protection pledge

  • ET on July 20, 2011 2:23 PM:

    Cantor absolutely has to continue to believe that he isn't standing up for the wealthy and that this is really about the middle class.

    I would also hazard a guess that he hasn't a clue that purchasing power for the middle class isn't what it used to be and maybe even thinks that his idea of middle class isn't what others see as middle class.

    This is all about self justification and denying the real world so as to bolster the GOP fantasy world.

  • st john on July 20, 2011 2:26 PM:

    Once again, I say let those who want their taxes raised contribute what they usually would contribute to the Republicans, instead contribute the same amount to the Democrats and publicize it broadly. Eric and his friends will not hear or understand it in writing unless it is accompanied by a serious financial consequence. Otherwise, they are spitting into the wind. I also like the suggestion of the wealthy completing the 1040EZ and paying the full amount to the IRS. Then we know they are serious.

  • Kevin W on July 20, 2011 2:53 PM:

    Back in my day the Repubs used to represent the rich. Now the sole constituency of the Repubs is Grover Norquist.

  • JS on July 20, 2011 3:30 PM:

    Everyone knows Norquist works for the Koch brothers, right?

    David and Charles Koch are the Kings of the Wingnut Welfare Queens.

  • exlibra on July 20, 2011 3:34 PM:

    Governor of Maryland, O'Malley, described Cantor (in an interview with TPM DC) to perfection: "extremist Eric Cantor and his dinosaur wing of the party"

    "rtncle Lieutenant". That's what Cantor is, if "right uncle" is one more euphemism for the Devil.

  • M. M. on July 20, 2011 3:34 PM:

    "I want what I want when I want it." -- Actual caption below Eric Cantor's high school yearbook photograph.

  • Pea on July 20, 2011 4:05 PM:

    Could boehner fire cantor to get him out of there? What about food poisoning? What about buying his support? Does Norquist/koch really pay so well that Cantor can,t be bought by someone else in the grand tradition of the GOP? We buy support in Iraq and Afghan etc, why not here? money is cheaper than cuts to MC, SS, Etc. Isn,t it interesting that Eric and the T-alibam Party don,t a tually represent the interests of the rich either???

  • TycheSD on July 20, 2011 4:17 PM:

    I don't know if protecting the wealthy from higher taxes is the primary reason Republicans don't want to raise taxes on anyone. I think they just want to shrink the government. They know that increased revenue to the government either maintains the government's current size or makes it likely that it will grow bigger.

    Why liberals favor bigger government is beyond me - unless they just want the government to keep hiring people in order to keep unemployment down. But Republicans like big government too. After all, one could argue that the military industrial complex just perpetuates military Keynesianism.

    Having a large government can't help but have a negative impact on our lives because it requires ever increasing taxes to pay for it. With middle class wages stagnant, debt levels increasing and home values declining, the last thing middle class people need is more taxes! And, that's what would have to happen to actually bring the deficit and debt down to reasonable levels. It's not just increased taxes for the wealthy that Republicans are trying to prevent. They don't want ANY increase in taxes for ANYONE.

  • Wannabe Speechwriter on July 20, 2011 4:41 PM:

  • BrianC on July 20, 2011 8:25 PM:

    For any of this to make sense, the House Republicans would actually be needing to make sense. They don't, and they aren't. They aren't fighting for the wealthy, they aren't fighting against the lower classes. They are fighting against Obama. Period. They have staked a position, clear throughout his presidency thus far, and clear into the last mid-term, they are against what he is for.

    "Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."

  • wetcasements on July 21, 2011 12:40 AM:

    Warren Buffett has been saying this for years.

    But what he says only matters when Tax-cut Jesus isn't listening.

  • zhongoj on July 21, 2011 5:59 AM:

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    thank you!!

  • Jim50 on July 21, 2011 11:35 AM:

    Until the 51% who pay NO federal income tax start coughing up something they have no right to complain! It's time to tell them the free ride is over. They need to step up to the plate, be Patriotic, and pay something!!!

  • the Libertarian on July 21, 2011 8:31 PM:

    Anybody, including the very wealthy, can pay more taxes if they wish; they do not have to wait for Congress to increase their tax rate. Access the IRS web site and link to the appropriate page.

  • azwayne on July 21, 2011 9:02 PM:

    A lot of rhetoric and demagogue, didn't see one fact, but just follow the incompetent journalists, free country, makes for some talking points right?

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  • virginia wendorf on August 02, 2011 10:29 PM:

    I am retired and on a fixed income just barely in the middle class. I also have grandchildren, and am willing to pay more tax. Let's go back to the Clinton tax rates.