Cantor Suggests Raising Taxes On The Poor: ‘You’ve Got To Discuss That Issue’

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) revived one of the GOP’s favorite talking points this morning, telling attendees at a Politico-sponsored breakfast event that it was imperative that Congress address the “problem” that “more than 45 percent” of Americans aren’t paying income taxes.

The GOP has repeatedly made the claim that the poorest Americans need more “skin in the game.” Today, response to a question by ABC’s Jon Karl, Cantor made it clear that Republicans are interested in raising taxes on the poor while lowering tax rates for everyone else as part of any comprehensive tax reform plan:

CANTOR: We also know that over 45 percent of the people in this country don’t pay income taxes at all, and we have to question whether that’s fair. And should we broaden the base in a way that we can lower the rates for everybody that pays taxes. […]

KARL: Just wondering, what do you do about that? Are you saying we need to have a tax increase on the 45 percent who right now pay no federal income tax?

CANTOR: I’m saying that, just in a macro way of looking at it, you’ve got to discuss that issue. … How do you deal with a shrinking pie and number of people and entities that support the operations of government, and how do you go about continuing to milk them more, if that’s what some want to do, but preserve their ability to provide the growth engine? … I’ve never believed that you go raise taxes on those that have been successful that are paying in, taking away from them, so that you just hand out and give to someone else.

Watch Cantor’s full answer here:

ThinkProgress has repeatedly explained why many Americans don’t pay income taxes — most either don’t make enough money or are college students or seniors with no yearly incomes. And those Americans are subject to various other forms of taxation, including the federal payroll tax.


The richest Americans, meanwhile, have seen their tax rates fall even as their incomes skyrocketed, contributing to rising inequality and exploding federal deficits. As Cantor made plain today, though, none of that matters. In addition to making the poor and middle class shoulder the burden of draconian budget cuts, Republicans want to raise their taxes too.