Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell brought a bunch of rank and file members to the microphones with him after a conference lunch Tuesday to discuss consumer finance regulation. But one of those Republicans — Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) — is introducing legislation to fund economic growth measures with higher taxes on millionaires and oil companies. And reporters took the opportunity to ask McConnell to address her plan publicly, in her presence.
After trying futilely to pass the mic to Collins, McConnell said pretty unequivocally that his caucus will overwhelmingly reject her plan.
Here’s the full quote:
What we have said, most of us, is that — well let me just speak for myself. There are — as you know from last there are differences of opinion. So I’ll speak for myself. I am not in favor of raising taxes on working people. I do favor extending the payroll tax holiday for another year in conduction with job creating proposals which we expect to be included in a final version of this that will come over from the House of Representatives, so that it provides some relief on the job-producing side as well as tax relief and if it’s coupled with unemployment insurance — something for those that are currently unemployed. I think most Republicans are very reluctant to raise taxes on anyone during this economic crisis that we find ourselves in. But there may be others who have a different point of view and if any of those people would like to comment to you obviously they can feel free to do so.
Remember, the key to Collins’ bill is that the millionaire surtax carves out business owners — a move explicitly designed to defuse the GOP argument that any income tax increase on millionaires will fall on some small businesses. That argument is a red herring, and his objection to Collins’ plan reveals it.
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 email@example.com.