CNBC - Transcript
MR. KERNEN: The fate of President Obama's economic recovery plan is in the hands of the House today as members get set to vote on the bill.
Here now, first on CNBC with a preview, Representative Eric Cantor, Minority Whip, who also sat down with the president twice on Tuesday to discuss the plan.
Why don't presidents, congressman, ever go to Capitol Hill? You guys aren't nice, or what? Why is it so rare?
REP. CANTOR: You know, I don't know, but you've got to hand it to this president.
MR. KERNEN: You do.
REP. CANTOR: He has met with us now three times, and look, he continues to say he doesn't have pride of authorship in this bill and this is the first step in the process that will happen today, and you know, our message to him yesterday when we met was, listen, we want this to be a real stimulus bill and any stimulus bill should be focused like a laser on the preservation, protection and creation of jobs.
We're not quite there yet with this bill, but we want to keep working with him, hopefully, bring the congressional Democrats along to do the same.
MR. QUINTANILLA: Do you know how many times President Bush met with House Democrats in eight years?
MR. KERNEN: No.
MR. QUINTANILLA: Twice.
MR. KERNEN: It's like every four -
MR. QUINTANILLA: Once a term, hopefully, this isn't it.
MR. KERNEN: Hopefully, it will be before 2012 before it happens again. What's in it that you want out? And what's not in it that you want in?
REP. CANTOR: Well, what's in it that we want out is, frankly, there's probably, you know, 88 percent of the $825 billion or so is spending that may be laudable in and of itself, I mean, there's $2 billion for Amtrak. There's monies to buy new federal cars. There's monies for the National Endowment for the Arts. There are a lot of programs, again, that may be worthy, but they're not just stimulative.
If we're going to focus on creating jobs here, we ought to make sure that that's where our emphasis is. So that's number one. Number two, in terms of the type of tax relief that is in the bill, there's less than five percent that is really affording business an incentive to get off the sidelines and start putting their capital work again. We'd like to see a lot more tax incentives for small businesses that we know are the job creators in this country, to give them the ability to see into the future. There will be no tax hikes. We've got some incentives in place that they can go ahead and start putting their money at risk again.
MR. QUINTANILLA: Congressman, those on the left and, you know, the Bob Herberts of the world in The Times yesterday would point out, the Republican-led Congress has put us in a trillion dollar deficit situation before the stimulus package. They cut taxes in a time of war. They basically gave up the mantle of fiscal responsibility.
Why should America think that Republicans have the answers when we've listened to you for the last eight years and gotten nowhere?
REP. CANTOR: Well, listen, there's no question that the fiscal discipline in Washington has gone out the window, and we've got to go get it back and there's no better time than now when families are hurting, when we experience days in this country and you have 60,000 plus layoffs and no one is immune, it's time for us to start getting it right and this bill is a big government spending bill, I mean, let's just call it what it is and, you know, I said to the president when I met him on Friday, look, you were elected to change the way that Washington works and people have a lot of hope and promise that that will happen.
This bill that's passing through the House, frankly, doesn't meet that standard. We want to continue to work with him to see if that can really happen so we can get it right.
MR. QUINTANILLA: So you're not only worried about whether or not this is the most efficient use of money. You guys are worried that the Democrats are trying to rewrite the social contract with Americans, right?
REP. CANTOR: Well, you know, the lasting problem with this bill, not only will it not deliver real stimulus, even the Congressional Budget Office says it's not stimulative is that, you know, people and businesses and entrepreneurs look out into the future and see trillions of dollars of additional debt. The latest projections on this particular bill, over $1.7 trillion once you add in the interest because, remember, we've got to borrow this money, it's $2,700 per man, woman and child in this country that we are borrowing to now throw money at pet projects.
Again, we've got to get it right. We can't have this overhang of increasing debt and expect to be able to become our prosperous nation that we've become used to.
MR. KERNEN: You know, President Bush said he had political capital after his reelection and he was going to spend it and you heard President Obama the other day said, I won, and I'm going to trump you guys on this.
MR. QUINTANILLA: He said that, too. Congressman, did he not say to you it directly, congressman?
REP. CANTOR: Yeah, we were in the White House on Friday with leaders on both sides of the aisle.
MR. KERNEN: Well, why don't we just concede that maybe we need to try it their way and let it happen, let the chips fall where they may, I mean, how else are you ever going to get back - you've got to give it a shot because you had the Reagan revolution. We're ready to throw that out the window, congressman, and you know it was a dirty word to be a liberal for about 25 years. It's not anymore. It's a dirty word to be a conservative. Let them try it, maybe let the chips fall where they may and then maybe you can have like a phoenix, you can rise from the ashes. Why don't we just go along with everything?
REP. CANTOR: Joe, I just think that the stakes are too high to let that happen, and I think that the American people understand that having to go and borrow what will obviously be over a trillion dollars once this thing comes out of the Congress, to go borrow that and put the debt onto the next generation right now and not do what we think could actually begin to grow jobs again, we've got to seize on this opportunity.
MR. KERNEN: You read the Herbert piece. This is all your fault, it's all the Republicans' fault why we're in this mess right now, so to even have any ideas, to even have the gall to even voice those opinions at this point, I don't know why you're even bothering. Read the piece. Anyway, congressman, I appreciate your time today and keep plugging away.