Cantor: Democrats Will Discuss Tax Hikes--Not Obamacare--in Debt Talks

By Matt Cover | July 11, 2011 | 2:33 PM EDT

President Barack Obama speaking at a June 29, 2011 White House press conference where he said Republicans needed to be willing address their "sacred cows," such as raising taxes, to make a deal to lift the debt limit. (AP photo)

( - Even though President Barack Obama publicly called for Republcans to take on one of their “sacred cows” and raise taxes, Democrats trying to negotiate a debt-limit deal have refused to discuss their own sacred cow, the health-care law Obama signed last year, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R.-Va.)

Starting in 2014, President Obama’s health-care law mandates that all individuals buy health insurance, while providing tax-funded health insurance subsidies to all Americans earning less than 400 percent of the poverty level.

“If you go back to when the Biden talks began, there was always a category of items that were sort of off-limits, on both sides,” Cantor told reporters at his Monday briefing.

“One, for us, was we’re not going to raise taxes, especially in such a sputtering economy,” said Cantor, “and for them it was always Obamacare.”

Cantor said that every time Democrats insisted on tax increases, Republicans countered by insisting on repealing Obamacare, resulting in a stalemate that eventually led Cantor and House Republicans to walk out of the talks all together.

“And every time the discussion started about, ‘Well, the Republicans need to raise taxes,’ I would proffer back, ‘Well, then you put Obamacare repeal on the table.’ It’s the same,” said Cantor.

At a June 29 press conference focused on the debt negotiations--after Cantor had walked away from the talks--President Obama chastised the GOP for not taking on their “sacred cows” and agreeing to raise taxes.

“So the question is, if everybody else is willing to take on their sacred cows and do tough things in order to achieve the goal of real deficit reduction, then I think it would be hard for the Republicans to stand there and say that the tax break for corporate jets is sufficiently important that we’re not willing to come to the table and get a deal done,” Obama said.

The President then went on to mock the GOP for protecting “oil companies” instead of taking the talks seriously.

“Or, we’re so concerned about protecting oil and gas subsidies for oil companies that are making money hand over fist--that’s the reason we’re not going to come to a deal,” said the president.

At that press conference, the president did not mention his own sacred cow: his own signature health care law, which the Republican-controlled House has voted to repeal.