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Eric Cantor’s Tax Bill Splits the GOP

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sen. Mike Crapo voted against a GOP-sponsored measure that would have cut taxes for some small-business owners.

Others mentioned as potential Romney running mates — Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and John Thune (S.D.) — also voted against the bill.

“Senator Ayotte believes Congress should take up real tax reform, rather than adding to our already broken tax code,” spokeswoman Liz Johnson said.

Conservative Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) also voted no, but not because the tax cut wasn’t paid for. His office noted he has previously voted against temporary, targeted tax relief, including a tax cut for hiring veterans and a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts and said he prefers a permanent solution instead.

Still, top GOP leaders Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Jon Kyl (Ariz.) voted for the Cantor proposal, and the rare disunity on a tax vote initially caught some staff off guard, one GOP aide said.

“Several people weren’t wild about the substance ... and if it didn’t have Cantor’s name, it likely would have gotten even fewer votes,” another GOP aide said.

Cantor’s bill would have given a 20 percent tax cut to the owners of companies with fewer than 500 employees. Democrats spent months lampooning it as a giveaway to hedge fund owners, sports teams and celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. President Barack Obama had also threatened to veto it.

Of course, Republicans also filibustered Obama’s small-business tax cut. Filibusters aren’t a rarity, but blocking a tax cut of any kind is rare for the GOP. (The main argument was that they wanted more votes on their amendments and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused, but Republican Senators repeatedly dissed the substance of the tax cut as well.)

A senior Democratic aide said the GOP seemed unusually disorganized on taxes — and pointed to a lack of direction from Romney.

“They lack any direction from their presidential nominee, and they don’t know what to do,” the aide said.

Aides to the Romney campaign and to Cantor’s office declined to comment Friday.

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