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NBC "Today" - Transcript


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NBC "Today" - Transcript


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MS. CURRY: Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor is the Republican whip.

Congressman Cantor, good morning.

REP. CANTOR: Good morning.

MS. CURRY: The Republican Party has been accused of being the party of no, Congressman, in opposing the Obama administration's efforts to fix the economy. Did the president say anything last night that you and your colleagues will support?

REP. CANTOR: Well, listen, I mean, it's a tough job to stand up there and get those kind of questions from all kinds of different reports. But I'll tell you, I think what we saw the president doing, though, is trying to defend a budget that is so far out of the mainstream that even members of his own party are now having a lot of difficulty supporting.

So I think Republicans will join together with those who really want to try and focus on the problems that families are having out there, small businesses, so that we can try and address those through the budget process over the next week or so.

MS. CURRY: Well, one of the things that the president has said is that, you know, he's not really gotten a very specific alternative budget. You say the next week or so. What specifically will you be doing in your budget that will allay his concerns that you're criticizing without offering an alternative plan?

REP. CANTOR: Well, you know, Ann, it's really unfortunate that the president says that. He knows that we have a plan. The budget process is starting in earnest in the House today as we begin to mark up the Democrat budget. We will have a plan, just as the Republicans had a plan on the stimulus bill, just as the Republicans will have a plan on the health reform bill.

So, I mean, our budget really focuses on the fact that we want to grow this economy. We actually have to go and reduce health care costs, compared to what this president's budget does, which is actually bloating health care costs by adding another $650 billion.

MS. CURRY: Well, wait a minute. Let's talk about this specifically. You're saying that you would tackle one of the major things that the president says that's got to be fixed, and that is the problem of health care. How specifically would you attack it differently in terms of implementation, beyond this money issue?

REP. CANTOR: Well, Ann, actually, you're right. I mean, we have to go and reduce the cost to the taxpayer of providing the kind of health care that we need, and we're going to do that by introducing some ability for families to choose so that they can have affordable health care.

But at the end of the day, what we need to focus on, Ann, is the fact that this budget goes and taxes the actual job creators that we need to go kick into gear to create the jobs that people are so worried about and are losing right now.

MS. CURRY: Do you trust the president when he says that he's going to tackle more fully this question of cutting the deficit once he's figured out a way to help this economy move forward?

REP. CANTOR: Again, we've got to make the tough choices, just as people watching this show are trying to make every morning -- they're getting ready to go and drop off their kids at school and go to work. They're worried about their family finances. We've got to do the same thing here in Washington.

Now, the bottom line is the tough choices are not being made. And by amassing huge, trillions of dollars worth of debt on the backs of our children is not the way forward. It is not that we have to go and ramp up spending right now. We've got to address the critical problems facing the economy right now. And in order to do that, we've got to focus on the people who actually are out there that need to jump back into the game and create jobs.

MS. CURRY: Well, part of that group includes Wall Street and people who are investing. And one of the things that the president said last night -- and I should ask this specifically of you, as one of the 85 Republicans who voted with the Democrats for taxing executives who get bonus money up to 90 percent -- I mean, what did you think about the president saying that it's time for Wall Street and Main Street to now work together to create a common purpose? Because that's going to be what it takes to fix this economy, Congressman.

REP. CANTOR: Well, I mean, first of all, as to the direction of his budget and where we need to go, we've got to provide the relief to the job creators. The president's budget taxes the very employers that employ one in four jobs in this country, the small businesses. So you can't go and say you want to create jobs by taxing job creators.

Our budget will come back and say, look, we want a growth- oriented economy. We want to provide tax incentives and tax cuts to small businesses and working families, something that this budget doesn't do. But if you look at the situation on Wall Street and the investors around this country who want to look to their 401(k)s and their IRAs for retirement security, we have got to go in and provide some more transparency. We cannot be using taxpayer dollars to bail out institutions that have failed.

MS. CURRY: All right, Congressman --

REP. CANTOR: And that is the real challenge facing many people today, wondering how is that fair.

MS. CURRY: On that note, we're going to have to leave it. Congressman Eric Cantor, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

REP. CANTOR: Thanks, Ann.


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