Sunday best: Bill Kristol wants to raise taxes on millionaires

Shocker! Influential conservative says the GOP should be willing to raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires

Topics: Taxes, Bill Kristol, Fiscal cliff, Election 2012, Sunday Best, GOP Civil War,

Sunday best: Bill Kristol wants to raise taxes on millionairesBill Kristol (Credit: Wikipedia/Gage Skidmore)

With the election over, the hot new thing that all the cool kids on the Sunday political chat shows were talking about today was the looming fiscal cliff and what Congress should do about it — and you’ll be surprised by one recommendation.

The tax increases and government spending cuts set to go into effect early next year are so massive that they could plunge the economy back into recession, unless Congress figures out a less painful way to reduce the deficit. The argument has so far broken down along the predictable partisan lines that we’ve seen in countless congressional battles over the past few years. Democrats want a balance of spending cuts and tax increases, while Republicans insist on zero tax increases, and maybe not even a dime in new revenue increases of any kind.

But just as the election has chastened Republicans on immigration, it may be doing the same thing on taxes. Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard and one of the most prominent establishment conservative voices in Washington, threw the door wide open to tax hikes as part of fiscal cliff negotiations today. “It won’t kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires … It really won’t, I don’t think. I don’t really understand why Republicans don’t take Obama’s offer,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

He continued: “Really? The Republican Party is going to fall on its sword to defend a bunch of millionaires, half of whom voted Democratic and half of whom live in Hollywood and are hostile?” It’s a remarkable statement, coming from Kristol.

Kristol has often clashed with Tea Party conservatives, but certainly holds the almost religious devotion to tax cuts that is the bedrock principle of the modern Republican Party. It’s the one thing that unites Ronald Reagan’s “three-legged stool” of the conservative coalition — free marketeers, social conservatives and national security hawks. Even more dramatic than Sean Hannity’s immigration shift, Bill Kristol’s shift on taxes suggests the party (or at least some leaders in it) have been shaken to their core by the election. While immigration is one of many important second-tier issues , taxes are the issue to the GOP, so compromising here is a much bigger deal. “At current velocity some Republicans will be calling for carbon tax and single payer health care by end of the year,” the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza quipped on Twitter in regards to Kristol’s remark.

If Kristol’s remarks represent a nascent shift in the party (it’s too early to tell at the moment), then it certainly bodes well for fiscal cliff negotiations and the future of the country, which will need tax cuts to deal with the deficit. One thing’s for sure, Kristol will likely be getting an angry phone call later today from Grover Norquist, the enforcer of the party’s anti-tax orthodoxy.

You Might Also Like

On the Democratic side of the equation, Washington Sen. Patty Murray took a hard line on fiscal cliff negotiations and suggested that Democrats should be willing to go over the cliff if need be, a welcome sign for progressives who are worried that President Obama will cave too easily.  “We can’t accept an unfair deal that piles on the middle class and tell them they have to support it,” she said on “This Week” on ABC. “So if the Republicans will not agree with [revenue increases], we will reach a point at the end of this year where all the tax cuts expire and we’ll start over next year. And whatever we do will be a tax cut for whatever package we put together. That may be the way to get past this.”

By the way, you can expect to see a lot more of Murray during the lame duck session of Congress and next year. Murray, the chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, just led one of the most impressive electoral efforts in recent memory, picking up two seats for Democrats in a year when they should have lost many more than that. These victories will likely elevate her within the party.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the chat shows, Republicans debated their future. CNN’s “State of the Union” assembled a panel seeking to represent various factions of the conservative movement. There was Gary Bauer, a staunch social conservative; Jon Huntsman, a moderate with crossover appeal; Carlos Gutierrez, George W. Bush’s commerce secretary, who has worked to reach out to Hispanics; and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who led outreach to women for Mitt Romney’s campaign.

The panel was representative of the party today in that it was fairly neatly divided into two camps. The moderates said the party needs to moderate some, especially its rhetoric, with Gutierrez saying Latinos were “scared of the Republican Party” this year with all of its language of self-deportation and illegals. Bauer, naturally, opposed this. “We don’t need two liberal parties,” he said, before telling Gutierrez that Hispanics don’t care about immigration. (“Pretty ridiculous to see Gary Bauer lecture Sec. Carlos Gutierrez about what is important to Hispanics,” tweeted Ana Navarro, who advised John McCain’s presidential campaign on Hispanic outreach.) McMorris Rodgers agreed: “I don’t think it’s about the Republican Party needing to become more moderate.”

On “Meet the Press,” Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, announced that he was restarting talks on comprehensive immigration reform  with Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who has called for his party to moderate on immigration. “The Republican Party has learned that being anti-immigrant doesn’t work for them politically. And they know it,” Schumer said, explaining why he thinks his bill could succeed this year, even though similar efforts have failed in the past.

Beyond the Beltway, CNN’s Candy Crowley checked in with Jerry Brown, the Democratic governor of California, where Dems won huge victories Tuesday. Voters approved a referendum to raise taxes on the wealthy and also installed a Democratic supermajority in both houses, which is critical in a state that requires supermajorities to raise taxes. Brown noted that the national anti-tax movement started in California over 30 years ago and said the state is now starting a wave of more pragmatic approach to taxes.

As governor of a state with one of the most oldest medical marijuana laws in the country, he said the federal government needs to back off of California, along with states like Washington and Colorado, which just passed marijuana legalization laws. It should be up to them on how to regulate the drug, he said. “Be careful, you’re sounding like a Republican,” Crowley joked of Brown’s states’ rights talk. Still, Brown said he opposed full legalization in his state.

Finally, there was lots of talk, of course, about the resignation of David Petraeus as the head of the CIA. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, told “Fox News Sunday” that she plans to investigate the FBI for failing to give her and other committee members advance notice about their discovery of Petraeus’ affair. She said the FBI is required to keep her committee abreast of developments like this, but failed. Rep. Peter King, the Republican chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, was suspicious, saying the FBI had known about the affair for months, but failed to inform the president. “The FBI should have had an obligation to tell the president … It just doesn’t add up,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union.” And Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the Republican ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, said he still expects Petraeus to testify at some point on what went wrong in the attacks on U.S. diplomats in Libya.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>