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Republican whip seeks vote on Bush-era tax cuts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House Republican Whip Eric Cantor called on Monday for a vote on legislation to extend all Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the rich that President Barack Obama wants to see expire at year's end.

Cantor took the action a day after House of Representatives Republican Leader John Boehner appeared to open the door for a possible compromise on taxes.

Boehner said on Sunday that if given no other choice, he would support extending tax cuts for the middle class -- even if cuts for the wealthy are allowed to expire, effectively raising their taxes.

Unlike Boehner, Cantor, the number two House Republican, showed no sign of backing away from a full renewal of the Bush-era tax cuts in advance of the November 2 congressional elections in which Republicans are seeking to wrest control of Congress from Obama's Democrats.

"Raising taxes in this environment is a non-starter for me," Cantor said in a statement.

"I am calling on (Democratic House) Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and President Obama to allow all members of the House -- Republican and Democrat -- to vote on legislation that would prevent tax increases for every American," Cantor said.

Opinion polls show a majority of Americans support letting the tax cuts for the wealthy expire, but the issue has made some Democrats nervous ahead of the hotly contested elections.

Boehner, appearing on CBC's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, said Obama's proposal to renew lower tax rates for families making less than $250,000 but allow the lower rates for wealthier Americans to expire was "bad policy" -- but he will support it if he must.

"If the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I'll vote for it," Boehner said. "But I'm going to do everything I can to fight to make sure that we extend the current tax rates for all Americans."

Obama has pressured Republicans to quickly agree to a permanent extension of the middle-class cuts but cites a Congressional Budget Office estimate that extending cuts for the wealthy would increase the budget deficit by $700 billion over a decade.

(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro, editing by Vicki Allen)

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