Cantor discusses budget stalemate, hopes to avoid shutdown
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor admits he is not the point person in the negotiations over the Federal Budget. But also said is unwilling to just accept whatever is offered if it doesn’t meet his strict measure of significant budget cuts.
“We have a $1.6 trillion annual deficit this year,” Cantor said. “And we are talking about trying to cut $60 billion out of the budget to return to 2008 levels.”
I spoke to Cantor in Houston, TX on Saturday just before VCU’s loss in the NCAA Final Four. Cantor, who does not represent the institution in Congress, came to support the team, of which many students and graduates live in his district. Rep. Bobby Scott, Gov. Bob McDonnell and Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones were also in attendance.
The massive cuts that Cantor is calling for are an ocean away from the White House budget proposal. As Cantor and House Republicans continue to hold their ground, once again the threat of a government shutdown looms large. The powerful Henrico congressman stressed that a shutdown is not his goal.
“I have always said that we do not want to see the government shut down,” Cantor said. But then almost in the same breath listed off all of the priorities he has for the next federal spending plan. Priorities that the White House and Senate Democrats clearly do not share. So when it comes to a staring match, Cantor appears to be the one who will not blink.
“We are not interested in supporting the status-quo, things have to change,” and then he went on to say “We do not want to shut the government down, but if it comes to a partial shutdown then we have to stand up and do what is right.”
But could standing up for what is right, mean breaking from the Republican Speaker of the House as well? Cantor appeared to be out of the loop in a recent press gaggle in Washington about a specific budget item reportedly agreed to between House leaders and the White House. He told me that the Speaker, John Boehner is taking the lead in Budget negotiations, and so far he has not seen a proposal he would vote yes for.
“There are reports of some kind of deal that has been struck, I am not supportive of any deal that has been reported,” Cantor said. “I think that when the people of American and Virginia look at the size of the annual deficit alone I think that they can see that $60 billion relative to $1.6 trillion is something we have got to do.”
Cantor’s office stressed to me today that at this point the budget debate is stalled in the Senate. They say Senate Democrats have not put forward any type of proposal and that all House Republicans can do for now is wait until their budget emerges.
You can see the extended clip from my interview with Rep. Cantor below:
Cantor’s office also released a lengthy statement on the budget process today. You can see that after the jump:
|Congressman Cantor Statement on Ongoing Spending Negotiations|
|WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Eric Cantor (VA-07) today issued the following statement regarding the ongoing spending negotiations:
“At a time when the federal government borrows nearly 40 cents of each dollar that it spends and averages trillion dollar deficits each year, House Republicans are firmly committed to cutting spending and tightening the belt just like business people and families around the country are doing. Americans deserve nothing less.
“Republicans want to cut spending and to get America’s fiscal house in order, we do not want to shut down the government. Yet, despite our repeated calls for fiscal sanity, Senate Democrats still refuse to act or listen to the American people. Instead, they continue to act irresponsibly by playing political games with a government shutdown by calling any effort to cut spending – no matter how sensible – ‘extreme’ regardless of the fact that the majority of Americans want to do exactly that. Senate Democrats need to learn that the extreme position is to keep recklessly spending money that we don’t have, driving up our debt, threatening tax hikes and the next generation of Americans. If Leader Reid and Senator Schumer refuse to offer a plan to cut spending, they have an obligation to offer a plan to raise taxes and I once again call upon them to do so.
“Our national debt is more than $14 trillion, but Leader Reid and Senator Schumer are promoting false promises and using sleight of hand budgeting to achieve an imaginary spending cut figure that is still far too low by comparison. If the Democrats demand to defend every dime of government spending and force a government shutdown, that will be on their hands.”