Appearing on the CBS News program 60 Minutes on Sunday night, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) experienced an awkward moment when he was challenged to admit that his hero, President Ronald Reagan, did in fact raise taxes.
Cantor was speaking with interviewer Lesley Stahl, who asked if he was ready to start compromising with Democrats on taxes. Cantor said he was indeed “ready to cooperate,” but then hedged his response.
“But what’s the difference between compromise and cooperate?” Stahl asked.
“I would say cooperate is ‘Let’s look to where we can move things forward to where we agree,” Cantor said. “Compromising principles, you don’t want to ask anybody to do that. That’s who they are as their core being.”
Stahl then mentioned to Cantor how his “idol” Reagan compromised his principles by raising taxes during his presidency. Cantor tried to deflect the focus by mentioning that Reagan cut taxes, but Stahl reiterated her point.
Upset at the reporter, Cantor’s press secretary yelled off camera, “That’s not true, and I don’t want to let that stand.”
No matter if Cantor, his staff or conservatives at-large want to deny that Reagan raised taxes, what Stahl said is completely true.
After his huge tax cut in 1981 slashed all tax rates to 23 percent, sparking a budget crisis, Reagan realized he’d also have to raise taxes in the years that followed. He raised taxes four times between 1982 to 1984, increasing the payroll tax, broadening the base of Social Security payees, applying the income tax to higher earners and rolling back corporate and individual tax breaks.
Reagan’s historic tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, whose rate went from 70 percent to 28 percent during his administration, ultimately forced the president to raise taxes on more people than any other U.S. president during a time of peace, according to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
In total, Reagan raised taxes 12 times during his two terms in office.
WATCH: Video from CBS, which was broadcast on January 1, 2012. (Selected mark starts at 10:27.)