House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Warns Of Another Debt Ceiling Showdown Unless Federal Spending Comes Down
HH: Joining me now is Congressman Eric Cantor, the majority leader of the United States Congress. Leader Cantor, welcome, good to have you on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
EC: Hugh, it’s good to be on.
HH: Yesterday, I mean today, Nancy Pelosi actually told reporters she’s very proud of the Affordable Care Act, I think the understanding of it has been jeopardized by misrepresentations that have been out there relentlessly. How do you respond to that, Leader Cantor?
EC: Well, it’s, I’m a little incredulous here to even think that what she says is embraced by the American people. I think Nancy Pelosi even went so far as to say defending the President’s health care law, that it’s about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You know, what is so sort of outlandish about that is that the New York Times/CBS poll that came out today reflected that 68% of Americans want the Supreme Court to repeal all or part of the law, which shows you, I think, that there’s a real disconnect in the minds of what Nancy Pelosi is thinking about the health care law and what most Americans are.
HH: That disconnect was obviously on display in Wisconsin when you consider what the unions thought they could accomplish and in fact what Scott Walker won. Your reaction to the Wisconsin vote, Eric Cantor?
EC: Yeah, I just think it says to folks that if you stand up as leaders, you tell the truth, and you’re willing to take on the tough problems that face that state, and do the things that are necessary to create jobs, that we win. And I think it was a clear indication of the direction that we are going to take in House races as well as the Romney campaign. Mitt Romney is the leader who will be able to take on the tough problems and return our economy to a growing economy so that we can see more people have jobs and get back to work.
HH: Now the Politico reported a couple of days ago that you had advised Mitt Romney personally that he has to go after independents, specifically women, Latinos, and you were quoted saying that you’d done that. How do you do it, Mr. Leader?
EC: Well, you know, I think as conservatives, we all know that it is that philosophy, that common sense conservative philosophy that is buttressed by the notion of a limited but responsible government is the way forward if we want a more optimistic, aspirational future for all Americans. It’s about opportunity for everyone. It is about our plan, our agenda to get the economy going again so that we construct economic freedom so that we can allow ordinary people to do the extraordinary things that Americans have done throughout the ages. If you look at the last couple of hundred years, there’s been no greater country in the history of the world in terms of opportunity and in terms of living standards, in terms of innovation, and the ability for everyone to reach beyond their potential. And that’s the message to Republicans, to Democrats, to independents, to women, to men, to minorities. That’s what brings us all together as Americans.
HH: Now Leader Cantor, today, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Fed, was on the Hill, and he testified to tow things – one, we can’t go over the fiscal cliff, we can’t have Taxageddon, and we can’t cut spending, draconian cuts in spending especially for Defense. And he also warned against a showdown on raising the debt ceiling. Let’s start with the latter one. I mean, we can’t just roll over on the debt, can we?
EC: No, I mean, as you know, we Republicans in the House stood up last year and said we are elected to reflect the will of the people. And what most Americans really are asking is how long can Washington keep spending money it doesn’t have? The other thing most people know at homes and in their businesses, they have got to make ends meet, and have got to begin to live within their means and balance their budgets. And the same should be true in their federal government in Washington. And that’s why we’re going to continue to fight hard to reduce spending, and to not go about the status quo, and to continue to raise the debt ceiling to incur more debt without fixing the problem. And it’s been tough, it’s certainly been a rancorous year and a half because the President and Harry Reid have indicated no willingness to go along to solve problems. But we remain committed to being that force that is of common sense conservative philosophy that believes in fixing the problem so that we’re not digging the hole deeper, and that people can begin to grow again in terms of their outlook for the economy.
HH: Leader Cantor, if a deal came out where they would extend the current tax rates for two to three, four years, would you then consider raising the debt limit?
EC: Well, no, because what I would say is this. We have got to affect the spending problem here. We really do. As you know, it is a trillion, three hundred fifty billion dollar incurrence of additional deficit this year alone. And because of the demographics of the country, we can’t just allow this to continue. Yes, we need tax reform. And what the House is going to do is we’re going to bring forward a bill in July which will say no to any tax rate increases, period. And as we know, former President Clinton came out this week and endorsed our position, and said that he didn’t think now was the time to allow tax rates to go up on anybody. But we believe the same is true. We also believe that in order to incur more debt, we’ve got to fix the spending problem and address it the way that the Speaker insisted last time. And we’ll continue to work hard and reflect what I think most Americans are asking us to do, is to get to the fiscal house in order.
HH: 30 seconds, Leader Cantor, will the Defense sequestration take effect?
EC: I certainly hope not, and the House Republicans have moved to make sure that it does not, that we replace those cuts where they are better put elsewhere, so that we can maintain our priority of making sure that the defense and security of this country and its citizens is maintained.
HH: Eric Cantor, always a pleasure, thank you for joining us, Leader Cantor, the majority leader of the United States Congress.
End of interview.