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ABC "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" - Transcript

Interview

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STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Thank you very much, Mr. Summers. Let me now bring in Congressman Cantor. And you heard Larry Summers there, Congressman Cantor. The president is going to be bringing in the banks for a serious talk tomorrow. What should he say to them?

CANTOR: Well, listen, George, no question that there is a still a deprivation of credit in this country for small businesses. And when the president meets with the bankers, I hope that the discussion centers on what seems to be a real overreaction, if you will, on the part of some auditors in the regulatory arena that are looking at risk taking as something that just shouldn't be done at all. We know in our economy that the prosperity we know has been built on calculated risk. What we've got now is a situation where there are so many performing loans out there that seem to be called by regulators, because we still have a depression in our asset values. And what I'm hopeful that the discussion occurs is about that, is about trying to get some type of transparency on the part of what regulators are asking of our banks, so that we understand and policy makers in Washington and frankly the small businesses that are looking to the banks can understand why it is that when they go to their bank, they're not getting their loan.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And it comes in the wake of the House passage on Friday of this financial reform legislation. Not a single Republican member of Congress voted for that bill. And yesterday, President Obama accused House Republicans of colluding with lobbyists in the financial industry to hurt American consumers. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Just this week, Republican leaders in the House summoned more than 100 key lobbyists for the financial industry to a pep rally and urged them to redouble their efforts to block meaningful financial reform. We can't afford to let the same phony arguments and bad habits of Washington kill financial reform and leave American consumers and our economy vulnerable to another meltdown.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your response?

CANTOR: Listen, none of us want another meltdown. None of us want the kind of abyss that we were peering into this time last year. There is no question. And we also want to make sure that people got a fair shot in terms of accessing good investments for their future and their retirement. The bill that came to the floor, frankly, was a bill that created a permanent bailout for banks. It put Washington in the seat to determine which banks will fail and which will succeed, and it extended TARP in terms of making it a permanent program. That's not what America wants. We also have a study that we saw that showed that this bill that came to the House floor that got no bipartisan support would increase interest rates almost 1.5 percentage points, and the prediction was that that would kill about a million jobs over the next five years.

Now, like it or not, we are an economy that is built on credit. We've got to get some reason back into the game here. Right now, investors, small business people are staying on the sidelines. They are not expanding. They are not hiring. There is a reason for that. They can't seem to understand where Washington goes next. And what the Republicans believe is, Washington has got to stop its activism and start to get some common sense back into the regulatory mode so that people can once again figure out how to go about making their investments and doing so with some transparency.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We've seen zero Republican votes on this financial reform legislation, one Republican vote in the House on health care, zero on the stimulus. Clearly the Democrats in your view are owning this economy going forward, share any blame if it goes down. If the economy recovers over the next year or two, are you prepared to give Democrats all the credit?

CANTOR: George, when we heard the unemployment numbers come out a few weeks ago and there was a reduction in the number of jobless folks, absolutely, we want to embrace that. But I can tell you, you look to see the record of this administration and the majority in Congress over the last 11 months, we have seen unprecedented spending. The deficit has increased enormously. If you look at the kind of deficit that we've incurred over the last three years that the Democrats have been in control of Congress, 60 percent of the overall deficit from the last 10 years has occurred in that period. And frankly, with the incurrence of that debt, we've seen very little result.

That's why we believe very strongly that we ought to choose another way. Last week, we were at the White House, called there by the president. We presented our no-cost jobs plan, and we said, you know what, none of us like where we are. We all want to get Americans back to work. And there is a way that we can do it by not costing the taxpayers any more. We can do so by finally blowing the whistle on spending and see if we can focus on the kinds of things that American businesses, small and large, are looking for in terms of trying to reestablish some certainty so we can grow this economy again.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Congressman, thanks very much for your time this morning. That debate will continue.

CANTOR: Thank you, George.

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