Political Animal

Blog

January 02, 2012 8:25 AM Cantor can’t handle the truth about Reagan

By Steve Benen

CBS’s “60 Minutes” ran a good profile on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) last night, but there was one portion of the interview that was especially important.

In this video, it starts at about the 10:19 mark. For those who can’t watch clips online, Cantor told Lesley Stahl, “Nobody gets everything they want.” Asked if that means he’s ready to compromise with Democrats, the oft-confused Majority Leader replied that he’s “ready to cooperate.” Stahl, of course, noticed word choice, and pressed Cantor on the difference between cooperation and compromise.

It led to this exchange:

Stahl: But you know, your idol, as I’ve read anyway, was Ronald Reagan. And he compromised.

Cantor: He never compromised his principles.

Stahl: Well, he raised taxes and it was one of his principles not to raise taxes.

Cantor: Well, he — he also cut taxes.

Stahl: But he did compromise —

Cantor: Well I —

At that point, Cantor’s press secretary, off camera, interrupted the interview, yelling that Stahl was lying when she said Reagan raised taxes. As Stahl told “60 Minutes” viewers, “There seemed to be some difficulty accepting the fact that even though Ronald Reagan cut taxes, he also pushed through several tax increases, including one in 1982 during a recession.”

Let’s call “some difficulty” a dramatic understatement.

Unfortunately for Cantor and his press secretary, reality is stubborn. The facts are indisputable: in Ronald Reagan’s first term, he signed off on a series of tax increases — even when unemployment was nearing 11% — and proceeded to raise taxes seven out of the eight years he was in office. The truth is, “no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people” as Reagan.

Of particular interest is the “Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982,” the largest of Reagan’s tax increases, and generally considered the largest tax increase — as a percentage of the economy — in modern American history. In fact, between 1982 and 1984, Reagan raised taxes four times, and as Bruce Bartlett has explained more than once, Reagan raised taxes 12 times during his eight years in office.

Why do Cantor, his press secretary, and Republicans everywhere deny what is plainly true? Because reality is terribly inconvenient: the GOP demi-god rejected the right-wing line on always opposing tax increases; he willingly compromised with Democrats on revenue; and the economy soared after Reagan raised taxes, disproving the Republican assumption that tax increases always push the nation towards recessions.

In other words, Reagan’s legacy makes the contemporary Republican Party look ridiculous. No wonder Cantor’s press secretary started yelling: Stahl was bringing up facts that are never supposed to be repeated out loud.

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.

Comments

Post a comment
  • DAY on January 02, 2012 8:31 AM:

    it is only an inconvenient truth when the people know about it.

    I predict that Ms. Stahl will become the media darling of the Democratic Party.
    For about 10 minutes. Or until a new Bright and Shiny Object hits the airwaves.

  • c u n d gulag on January 02, 2012 8:42 AM:

    Maybe Cantor, and Republicans like him, mean that Reagan didn't REMEMBER raising taxes - so why should they?

    Yes, THAT was a real cheap shot!

    But that slithery, smarmy, dumbass SOB deserves no less.

  • sick -n-effin-tired on January 02, 2012 8:43 AM:

    Thanks for watching so I didn't have to. Disingenuous lying sack of shit. Not watching saved me from throwing a shoe through my new TEEVEE

  • snowbird42 on January 02, 2012 8:44 AM:

    Wasnt it nice to hear good questions and follow up. Not mean but not softball either.

  • martin on January 02, 2012 8:47 AM:

    Reagan’s legacy makes the contemporary Republican Party look ridiculous

    Not to defend Reagan, but the contemporary Republican party looks ridiculous because it is. Let's not blame the dead guy.

  • J on January 02, 2012 8:54 AM:

    Just for once it is good to see someone push back against republican talking points. This morning on Morning Joke Bachmann said the debt would be Obama's legacy, I was at that time reading Pensito Review that had an interesting comparison between Obama's debt and Bush's, Bush put the debt higher by 4 times as much.

  • Shan on January 02, 2012 9:02 AM:

    The guy was obviously lying through his teeth. And the biggest/most ridiculously obvious one? That he's a fan of Wiz Khalifa and the like. I'll believe that the day I start believing in Santa Claus (not "again" either, I'm not sure I ever did!).

    Does this guy think that we're all idiots? Phony, glib, hostile, condescending. Disgusting! Guess what Eric, this would be a PR fail: you came across looking like more of a sociopath not less.

  • hells littlest angel on January 02, 2012 9:06 AM:

    Pointing out that Reagan raised taxes is, like pointing out the age of the earth, religious intolerance.

  • Richard Fox on January 02, 2012 9:23 AM:

    In retrospect I exercised much wisdom (or self preservation) last night in maintaining my Twilight Zone marathon watch-fest. I normally go for "60 Minutes" but instinctively I kept away. I now know why. So thank you Steve for giving me the salient bits so I can be as lazy as a snake in the sun for my holiday weekend.

  • Danp on January 02, 2012 9:31 AM:

    I simply don't understand how anyone who regularly watches 60 Minutes can watch Cantor and think, "now, this is a man I can trust."

  • Kathryn on January 02, 2012 9:35 AM:

    I hope this isn't delusional, but face time with Cantor or Boehner on the teevee seems like a winner for Democrats, two more unappealing pols don't exist. Of course all the better when questioned in a meaningful way which is rare. Lesley Stahl showed how easy it is.

  • Rich on January 02, 2012 9:46 AM:

    I'm happy to see this, but it's only taken how many years for mainstream media to do this? Given the reception, this may drive Cantor back into his cocoon and the media into their usual wimpishness. The real question is how to prod the mainstream media to do more of this, to the point that a meme is born.

  • Steve P on January 02, 2012 9:50 AM:

    Nice--but I've seen similar interviews by British TV where the question is repeated, enforced by examples, until the pol gives a straight answer or walks off. (That off-screen nanny for Canter wouldn't have been on set.)

    It happened to Rumsfeld and he looked like Louis XV, astonished that one of his courtiers was talking back to him.

  • RalfW on January 02, 2012 10:01 AM:

    I'm seeing the denial of reality in recent history, too. In response to the news that GM and Chrysler are planning to invest nearly $1BN in new plants and equipment in Ohio as the US auto industry rebounds, people are still trying to claim the bailout was a bad thing.

    In particular, I'm hearing "if GM was such a good gamble, why didn't the private market loan them the money?" Which made me livid - these jack@sses have already forgotten that their precious markets were horribly, frighteningly broken lo those three years ago.

    In all the "Obama is a Wall Street hating soshulist" garbage is one of the biggest real-time rewritings of history: the Kenyan communist saved capitalism's sorry butt. Big time.

    But that cannot be the national narrative. Democrats must always be the party og government and Republicans the party of markets, even if the facts utterly support the opposite. (Republicans in fact being the party of government contracts and graft...Delay, Abramoff & Santorum anyone?)

  • J. on January 02, 2012 10:03 AM:

    On may as well add that Reagan engaged in "class warfare".

    From 1981-1988 the share of income taxes paid by top 10% of taxpayers rose from 48% to 57.2%. This info comes from Fox's Your World with Neil Cavuto. See: http://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/images/item/fnc-cavuto-20110812-reagan1.jpg

  • T-Rex on January 02, 2012 10:07 AM:

    We are at war with Eastasia. We have always been at war with Eastasia.

  • ComradeAnon on January 02, 2012 10:09 AM:

    It's sad that their policy is the equivalent of, and I paraphrase, "Who remembers the Armenians".

  • dj spellchecka on January 02, 2012 10:19 AM:

    if i remember correctly, reagan dropped the top marginal rates on the rich and raised the payroll tax percentage, among many other things.... class war, trickle down stylee

    apparently it's those tax cuts cantor and company love so much....

  • david1234 on January 02, 2012 10:30 AM:

    Reagan did not leave the Republican party. The party left him.

  • sparrow on January 02, 2012 10:34 AM:

    Would I be far off base in viewing the current Republican party as a cult?

  • kevo on January 02, 2012 10:36 AM:

    I would never dare call Canter a clown for I would be levying great injustice and insult to those who have given joy to so may through their serious performances as professional clowns!

    No, Canter is so out of touch, he thinks his baseball team has given him the honor of playing left out! (And he smiles!)

    He is so confused, he thinks, and tries to think again! (And he smiles!)

    Canter knows no boundaries on buffoonery! (And he smiles!)

    The voters who elected this man surely must spend much of their time in their own posterior chambers! -Kevo

  • Emanon on January 02, 2012 10:54 AM:

    You think that's outrageous, try telling a modern republican that the Confederacy lost the Civil War.

  • marty on January 02, 2012 11:06 AM:

    How I wish this smug, unctuous, sanctimonious, hypocritical, smarmy, bullshitting FUCK would be met by Occupy-minded protesters EVERY time he appears in public.

    He and the rest of the Republican punks- Hensarling, Ryan, etc. are virtually immune from the effects of their policies....they should be confronted vigorously by working class Americans whenever and wherever they appear in public.

  • del yocand on January 02, 2012 11:33 AM:

    good post but am disappointed that u link to the pirated video on youtube. out of professional courtesy - and to do the right thing - you should have linked to the original cbs video on their site. bad form, steve

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57348499/the-majority-leader-rep-eric-cantor/?tag=contentMain;cbsCarousel


  • navigator on January 02, 2012 12:03 PM:

    LinkedIn lists Cantor's press secretary as a woman, Laena Fallon.
    The interrupting, off-camera voice was male.

    Would be interesting to find out who that actually was, and how old he was in 1982.

  • sassafras on January 02, 2012 12:29 PM:

    How old was Cantor in 1982, and how much was he cognizant of politics or the economy at that age? I graduated from University that year. I remember very well: there were NO jobs, home mortgages carried >10% interest rates, and Reagan was a puppet President who read the lines he was given very well.

  • Charles Almon on January 02, 2012 12:39 PM:

    Dogma over truth and reality.
    How do Republicans look in the mirror every morning?

  • pol on January 02, 2012 12:41 PM:

    Interesting that Stahl said Cantor is trying to improve his image to reflect himself as a "Southern gentleman."

    I grew up in a small town in Georgia, but have lived my entire adult life (40 years) in the melting pots of Florida and Northern Virginia. Although Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, I don't think of Northern Virginia as being part of the Deep South anymore. We have lots of liberal thinkers here.

    Due to Facebook, I have had more than my share of recent interactions with the individuals I grew up with back in Georgia, and -- for the most part -- they're all just like Eric Cantor. They're all trying to shine up their images, just to put on a face. They'll tell you one thing, but mean another. They'll give you a pat on the back when you're standing there, but don't turn away -- they'll stab you in the back when you're not looking. And -- they all smile like Cheshire cats -- just like Eric Cantor.

    Don't get me wrong -- there are some good souls there,and I know quite a number of them -- but I have found this behavior to be very prevalent ... I recognized it as a kid, but as someone just trying to fit in, believe me,mostly you just kept quiet.

    The moral of the story: these people NEVER grew up. No wonder they are Republicans. They, like Eric Cantor, live the persona everyday. They can't help themselves.

  • Charles on January 02, 2012 12:59 PM:

    While the tax increases of the Reign of Reagan are often overlooked, to be Fair and Balanced, it should be pointed out also that the National Debt tripled.

  • Anonymous on January 02, 2012 1:02 PM:

    Petty, but I will note that at the 10:10 mark they show Cantor riding a mountain bike.

    #1 He's riding on the sidewalk which in many places is illegal.
    #2 He needs to be fitted for this bike - the saddle is too high (metaphor?). Plus he needs to ride in a lower gear, ie have a faster pedal rotation because he's going to kill his knees riding this way.

    And, by the way, the man is despicable.

    Captcha: tyahow procorpus,: rather odd that came up I'd say

  • Disco on January 02, 2012 2:42 PM:

    So...what did Cantor say after viewing the Reagan video? Or did he NOT view the video? This could have been much better.

  • kth on January 02, 2012 3:02 PM:

    Facts don't matter to Republicans, and haven't in quite some time.

  • Maxie on January 02, 2012 3:04 PM:

    The part where can't admit Reagan raised taxes is just like every conversation I have w/ conservatives. It's either change the subject or adamantly refuse to admit fact. Reagan raised taxes, he also almost tripled the deficit

  • mk3872 on January 02, 2012 3:39 PM:

    So Reaganus Maximus faced 10%+ unemployment in his first term and yet conservatives and Republicans backed him & stuck with him.

    Obama faced the worst global recession since The Great Depression and liberals and Dems jump ship with unemployment at 8.4%

    Progressives have proven themselves to be pathetic with this president.

  • labman57 on January 02, 2012 3:41 PM:

    Fundamental tenet of conservative politics: When your rhetoric conflicts with reality, ignore reality.

  • Bob Loblaw on January 02, 2012 3:52 PM:

    Yes, Reagan compromised and raised taxes thinking the Dems would stick to their part of the agreement and cut spending. The Dems didnt. Taxes increased, the deficit didnt shrink and Reagan regretted compromising with liars who didnt stick to their agreements.

  • Bob Loblaw on January 02, 2012 3:59 PM:

    ""In response to the news that GM and Chrysler are planning to invest nearly $1BN in new plants and equipment in Ohio as the US auto industry rebounds, people are still trying to claim the bailout was a bad thing.""

    Yes, the bailouts were indeed a bad thing. What the bailouts said was: No matter how unreliable your products, no matter how bad your labor relations, no matter how uncompettiive your costs, no matter how bad your management decisions, the US govt will be there to bail you out. Let's see where the US Auto Industry is in 15 years. 2 years is too soon to judge the failure of the bailouts.

  • Werewolf on January 02, 2012 4:00 PM:

    @Bob Loblaw-
    The big spending increases were on the military, including the completely useless Star Wars. It wasn't Democrats giving Cadillacs to undeserving Black folks.

  • Bob Loblaw on January 02, 2012 4:03 PM:

    ""The part where can't admit Reagan raised taxes is just like every conversation I have w/ conservatives. It's either change the subject or adamantly refuse to admit fact. Reagan raised taxes, he also almost tripled the deficit""

    So then you admit raising taxes didnt work to reduce the deficit. Thank you.

  • Bob Loblaw on January 02, 2012 4:07 PM:

    ""The big spending increases were on the military, including the completely useless Star Wars. It wasn't Democrats giving Cadillacs to undeserving Black folks.""


    Spending on Star Wars, was one of the major reasons the USSR fell. Gorbachev tried to loosen up the Soviet Economy to compete and the whole system then fell apart. Even Boris Yeltsin admitted that SDI was a major reason the USSR fell so quickly. Reagan won at Reykavik in Nov 1986, Gorbachec lost. I know it is very sad for you leftists that the USSR fell, but it did and Reagan played a significant roll along with Thatcher and Pope John Paul 2.

  • Werewolf on January 02, 2012 4:07 PM:

    @Bob Loblaw-
    The problem is that the tax increases couldn't keep up with the huge increases in military spending.

  • Bob Loblaw on January 02, 2012 4:08 PM:

    ""The problem is that the tax increases couldn't keep up with the huge increases in military spending.""

    Tax increases were never offset by spending cuts. The Dems lied about cutting spending.

  • Bob Loblaw on January 02, 2012 4:14 PM:

    ""The problem is that the tax increases couldn't keep up with the huge increases in military spending.""

    Defense spending increases that were necessary thanks to the Ford/Carter years of reducing "Real" military spending in the face of communism expansion. Military spending as a % of GDP peaked in 1985 and began falling slowly from there.

  • Werewolf on January 02, 2012 4:15 PM:

    @Bob Loblaw-
    Funny, I seem to remember back in the '80s that mentally ill people were appearing out on the streets because the Federal Government was cutting funding to psychiatric hospitals. A lot of non-military spending got cut-it just couldn't keep up with the military spending. And the USSR collapsed because a: they got stuck for years in a money-wasting quagmire in Afghanistan and b: because their economic system was stupid (and corrupt). I, like most liberals, loathed the Soviet Union. I merely didn't think that loathing was enough reason to start a thermonuclear war.n

  • Bob Loblaw on January 02, 2012 4:23 PM:

    ""Funny, I seem to remember back in the '80s that mentally ill people were appearing out on the streets because the Federal Government was cutting funding to psychiatric hospitals""

    That's one of the great myths of the 1980s. Fact is homelessness began rising in the early 1970s thanks to the fact the ACLU made it harder to keep people institutionalized. There was NO cut in HUDs budget under Reagan.

    ""A lot of non-military spending got cut-it just couldn't keep up with the military spending.""

    No it didnt. Reagan never cut spending, it kept rising, but at a slower rate than in the 1970s.

  • Largo on January 02, 2012 4:24 PM:

    You can't humanize a weasel.

  • chi res on January 02, 2012 4:32 PM:

    Reagan never cut spending, it kept rising, but at a slower rate than in the 1970s.

    Hey Bobby, I'm not going to cut your salary, but I'm only going to give you a $10/year raise for the next ten years.

    Think your "spending" level will be cut?

    (who are these people, and why do they even come here?)

  • Patango on January 02, 2012 6:43 PM:

    Bob Loblaw

    There was NO U S military spending that directly brought down the collapse of the ussr , that is pure bull $hit , the same cantor and his minion displayed on 60 min....

    Then your going to TRY and brag about regan tripling the debt while raising taxes , the GOP take pride in their failures on a message board , but have to lie like snakes once the camera is rolling ....

  • Teddi on January 02, 2012 6:51 PM:

    Eric "Despicable Me" Cantor is a piss poor
    excuse for a congressman, for a man & for
    a human being. Hate his smug, phony face
    and the truth just ain't in him.

  • moreco2 on January 02, 2012 7:09 PM:

    You lib posters here are lying. You know the truth. When Reagan took office, the top individual tax rate was 70 percent and by 1986 it was down to only 28 percent. All Americans received at least a 30 percent tax rate cut. Any later revenue increases that Reagan agreed to with the Demoncrats were balanced by promises of budget cuts. Of course the lying Demoncrats didn't deliver on the cuts.

  • moreco2 on January 02, 2012 7:17 PM:

    And the revenue increases were a part of an overall tax reform. Reagan's tax cut policies ushered in the greatest economic expansion in US history. Fools.

  • Werewolf on January 02, 2012 7:18 PM:

    @moreco2-
    You're confusing income tax with *all* taxes. Income tax went down under Reagan-payroll taxes (which affect working people, but not the idle rich) went up considerably. And once again, it was military spending that really drove the deficit (Star Wars and other foolish, wasteful BS).

    To you and Bob Loblaw and the rest-"Dawn take you all, and be stone to you!"

    (to all of you non-Tolkien geeks, Gandalf said that to a trio of trolls in "The Hobbit".

  • Brandt Hardin on January 02, 2012 7:52 PM:

    Reagan has a legacy so distorted by the Conservative idolization of him that we may never have a clear picture of the real man behind the television set beyond the elaborate myth now concocted around him. Did he really rid the world of commie scum? Did destroy or save our economy? Check out my portrait of The Gipper in commemoration of the Reagan Centennial and help me figure it out on my artist�s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/02/happy-100th-gipper.html

  • Brian on January 02, 2012 10:26 PM:

    Cantor claims to revere the Constitution, but then he claims that President Obama is his "commander-in-chief." No, he isn't, Rep. Cantor. He is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He is not the commander-in-chief of civilians.

  • newinfluence on January 03, 2012 1:23 AM:

    Brian- Don't be so sure that he didn't use the C-i-C reference as a clever way to say that that is the only authority that he recognizes the president to have in his life, and doesn't respect him. Cantor obviously has let his personal disdain for this Democratic president to trump his respect for the democratically-elected Office of President.

  • SV1 on January 03, 2012 1:57 AM:

    ""Funny, I seem to remember back in the '80s that mentally ill people were appearing out on the streets because the Federal Government was cutting funding to psychiatric hospitals""

    And the end result is Bob Loblaw

  • SV1 on January 03, 2012 2:33 AM:

    "You lib posters here are lying. You know the truth. When Reagan took office, the top individual tax rate was 70 percent and by 1986 it was down to only 28 percent"

    Of course the top individual tax rate (which is the rich)
    went down.

    "All Americans received at least a 30% tax rate cut"

    Sure when you compare the top individual tax rate (which applies to the rich), to a percentage as a whole, which is an average overall. The biggest cut was for the rich. The lowest cut was for the working class, and when payroll taxes went up, it displaced (if any) income tax cuts they received.

  • The Golux on January 03, 2012 1:56 PM:

    There was a great article in the NYT Sunday review extending Rumsfeld's known knowns/known unknowns/unknown unknowns concept to include the one he left out, which summarizes today's GOP in two words: Unknown Knowns, the refusal to know things that are obviously true.

  • K from WI on January 03, 2012 2:43 PM:

    Cantor and the Republican party keep fighting for the rich corporate freeloading government. They do not no how to handle we the people. The middle class, working class and poor will never be represented by this person. He is of the greed and for the greed programed by A.L.E.C.

  •  
  •  
  •