We talked yesterday about Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), who likes the idea of raising federal income taxes on those who currently pay nothing, to ensure that low-income families have some "skin in the game." It turns out, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is thinking along the same lines.
For those who can't watch clips online, Travis Waldron published a transcript of the relevant portion:
"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.... I'm saying that, just in a macro way of looking at it, you've got to discuss that issue.... 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."
Remember, millions of Americans may be exempt from income taxes, but they still pay sales taxes, state taxes, local taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare/Medicaid taxes, and in many instances, property taxes. It's not as if these folks are getting away with something -- the existing tax structure leaves them out of the income tax system because they don't make enough money to qualify. Indeed, many are retirees who can't earn an income because they're no longer in the workforce.
But for Cantor, this isn't "fair" -- if wealthier people are paying federal income taxes, then everyone should pay federal income taxes.
Of course, to make that happen, Cantor would necessarily have to endorse a higher tax burden on those least able to afford it. For the House Majority Leader, policymakers should "discuss" doing just that.
In the coming months, it'd be worthwhile to get other Republicans on the record on this. In recent months, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Michele Bachmann have all said they'd like to see those who aren't paying federal income taxes start contributing more. Now, Eric Cantor is expressing a similar sentiment.
This appears to be a new, fairly standard position for the GOP mainstream, but are all Republican congressional candidates on board with this? I suspect there are millions of American voters who may want an answer before Election Day 2012.