(CNSNews.com) – House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va,) were not among the 72 House Republicans who signed a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction--the so-called “Supercommittee”--asking the committee not to call for increasing taxes.
In fact, in all, 170 House Republicans failed to sign the letter, raising the question of whether some House Republicans, including the House Republican leadership, are leaving open the option of supporting some kind of tax increase in cutting a final deficit deal with congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama.
Of the 72 signers, 68 are members of the conservative Republican Study Committee, headed by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)--who did sign the letter.
“Cutting back the national debt will require stronger private sector job growth and less government spending. Raising taxes would just take us further away from both goals,” Jordan said in a statement.
The letter, which was drafted by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), simply called on the Supercommittee to avoid raising taxes on Americans.
“Tax increases aren’t going to get our economy back on the right track,” McHenry said.
“We need real solutions to address runaway spending. Raising taxes will only further damage the economy, discourage private sector investment, and hurt Americans struggling to make ends meet.”
Neither Boehner’s office nor Cantor’s office returned calls from CNSNews.com seeking comment for this story.
Boehner had ruled out any new tax increases until last week, when he threw his support behind a Republican deficit-reduction proposal made by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)--a member of the Supercommittee--that would have raised $300 billion in additional tax revenue, but would have required an overhaul of the federal tax code.
The Toomey proposal was roundly rejected by Democrats on the Supercommittee.
A spokesman for the Republican Study Committee said Monday that both Boehner and Cantor had an opportunity to sign the letter to the Supercommittee opposing tax increases, but did not do so. The spokesman said the two Republican leaders knew about the letter, which had circulated for at least two weeks among House Republicans.
“If they had wanted to, they certainly could have signed on," the spokesman told CNSNews.com. “But the leadership has also tended to avoid sending letters--or signing on to letters -- to the Supercommittee.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for McHenry’s office, noted that many House Republicans “are pretty wary these days of signing on to letters.”
According to the Clerk of the House, there are 242 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. There are 152 members of the Republican Study Committee. Cantor is a member of the RSC.