Will S&P’s controversial decision to downgrade the country’s bond rating — and its explicit citation of GOP intransigence on tax revenue — be enough to break the Republicans’ broad opposition to tax increases in future deficit reduction legislation?
Not if House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) can help it.
In a Monday memo to the House GOP caucus, he candidly acknowledged that S&P faulted the party’s unyielding stance on tax revenues for the downgrade. But he encourages members not to erase this bright line.
“Over the next several months, there will be tremendous pressure on Congress to prove that S&P’s analysis of the inability of the political parties to bridge our differences is wrong,” Cantor wrote. ” In short, there will be pressure to compromise on tax increases. We will be told that there is no other way forward. I respectfully disagree…. I firmly believe we can find bipartisan agreement on savings from mandatory programs that can be agreed to without tax increases. I believe this is what we must demand from the Joint Committee as it begins its work.”
In other words, House Republicans should unite against a plan that isn’t dominated by Medicare cuts and contains no tax increases. There are 240 House Republicans, and during the debt limit fight, they followed Cantor’s lead on this score.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.