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When Republicans endorse tax increases

Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.)
Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.)Associated Press

If there's one constant in contemporary American politics it's that Republicans are uncompromising in their role as an anti-tax party. When it comes to GOP priorities, literally every other consideration pales in comparison.

But as those who watch Republican politics closely know, the anti-tax rule needs an asterisk. The party hates tax increases with every fiber of its being, unless you're poor. Luke Johnson flagged this quote from Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.).

"You know, folks mock Mitt Romney for what he said, but he's right. Forty-seven percent of American citizens pay zero in income taxes. It's just true," Woodall said, according to remarks recorded by Georgia Fair Share. [...]

"In fact, the bottom 30% of American citizens profit from the tax code because they're getting refundable tax credits back," Woodall says in the video. "I don't care if you're paying a dollar. You need to believe that you are involved in the process, and you need to have skin in the game."

There are a couple of relevant angles to this. First, Romney's "47 percent" thesis wasn't just the percentage of Americans who don't pay income taxes; it was also about characterizing nearly half the country, including seniors and veterans, as lazy parasites.

Second, what Woodall is talking about is raising taxes on those who can least afford it. He won't call it that, but "skin in the game" is a euphemism for "paying more than zero in taxes."

Remember, as we talked about a year ago, 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.

For Rob Woodall, that means these folks don't really believe they're "involved in the process." The congressman didn't specify what "process" he's referring to, but the implication is that these citizens are somehow not fully participating in the American experience because they don't make enough money to pay income taxes -- and that's ridiculous.

But the talking point keeps coming up anyway, and the underlying point -- low-income Americans need to pay more -- has been endorsed by Rick PerryMichele Bachmann, Eric Cantor, and others.

So, yes, Republicans are an anti-tax party, but only as it relates to the wealthy.