VIDEO: Rep. Cantor Flip-Flops On Whether "Anybody" Should Pay Higher Taxes

November 11, 2011 3:21 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-VA) speech yesterday at the Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy recycled a lot of the uninspiring material he's been using in other recent appearances at schools across the country. However, things did get interesting during the question-and-answer session following Cantor's remarks, when he contradicted himself on whether any Americans should pay higher taxes. 

Asked how House Republicans will respond to President Obama's call for an extension of payroll tax cuts, Cantor was noncommittal but claimed Republicans "do not believe taxes should go up on anybody, especially in an economy like this." But minutes later, Cantor answered a student who pointed out some of the regressive elements of the tax code by calling it unfair that "47 percent of the people in this country don't pay any income taxes," adding, "Everybody should have some skin in the game — even if it's a dollar." Watch:

Cantor went on to argue for lower corporate tax rates, though he never mentioned the major corporations that are able to avoid paying taxes. He also never mentioned — as conservatives never do — the reason many Americans don't pay federal income taxes, which is that they don't earn enough money to qualify. But, as the student's question implied, those Americans still pay several other forms of taxes, so it's wildly misleading to suggest they don't have any "skin in the game."

In his prepared remarks, Cantor spoke of "a nine-year-old inner-city kid scared to death growing up in a life of poverty" and asked, "What can you do to help that little girl?" He said that "there are no easy answers, but I believe that child needs a hand up" — as opposed to a handout — "to help her climb the ladder of success in our country." Apparently, Cantor's "hand up" includes forcing that poor girl's parents (or parent) to pay higher taxes.

UPDATE: Watch a longer version of Cantor's contradictions HERE