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Fox News "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace" Transcript - Effort to Get Economy Growing Again

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WALLACE: Congress headed home this week for its August recess. With deadlines approaching to fund the government for the next year, and to raise the dealt limit, or go into default.

I sat down with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Friday to discuss where things stand.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: Congressman Cantor, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

CANTOR: Chris, good to be on.

WALLACE: Let's start with the latest jobs numbers that are out Friday. The economy added 162,000 jobs in July. Unemployment dropped to 7.4 percent, the lowest in four and a half years. Factory production, home construction and auto sales are all up.

The July numbers are a bit disappointing, but overall, if you look over the last year, unemployment has gone from 8.1 percent to 7.4 percent. Isn't the overall trend positive?

REP. ERIC CANTOR, R -- VA, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, Chris, for those who have found the job and gotten full-time work, I think all of us were happy for those people, and we want more of that to take place.

I think if you get into the details of the numbers, what we are seeing, though, is unequivocally the majority of the new jobs have been created, at least last year were part-time jobs, not full-time jobs. And we've also seen the labor participation rates, a number of people who actually are still in the market for jobs go down, which means there are an awful lot of Americans who have given up.

And that's really I think that's so critical right now is that we focus on seeing how we can fundamentally get this economy growing again so that people can find full-time jobs and we can take away the impediments of job creation like ObamaCare and some of the red tape and regulation coming out of this town.

WALLACE: OK. You talk about creating jobs. You talk about growing the economy. But you have spent the last week in the House working on and passing your agenda, a series of bills called Stop Government Abuse. Included in the bill, and let's put it up on the screen, block the IRS from endorsing ObamaCare, place limits on taxpayer-funded conferences, require Congress to approve new regulations that cost more that $100 million.

Here's what Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings had to say about the way you spent the last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, D - MD: Republicans are more interested in playing partisan games and advancing political messaging bills. Americans want Congress to focus on creating jobs and growing our economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Is what you've been doing the best way to spend Congress's time when you are about to go on a recess for five full weeks?

CANTOR: Well, first of all, Chris, government doesn't create jobs. The private sector does. And what we have going on today is a real erosion of confidence on behalf of the American public in terms of their trust in government and frankly the faith in their economy.

And the kinds of bills that we brought to the floor this week, you mentioned the Raines Act. That was a bill that said, you know what, stop the bureaucrats from passing these massive regulations that are impeding the ability for our businesses to grow. Let's think about the people out there that actually are out of work because they don't have the proper skills and training. Stop burdening our economy.

That's what the purpose of the bills were this week, Chris. And the problem is, we don't get a lot of bipartisan support. We passed a bill that said bureaucrats shouldn't be allowed to give excessive bonuses right now. People ought to know that their taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely.

These are kinds of things that can rebuild confidence, long term progress in America. Growth in our economy is dependent on that.

WALLACE: But, Congressman, rightly or wrongly, none of these bills that you passed is going to become law. Your own members say they're not going to pass the Senate. The president won't sign them.

Let's talk reality. You haven't pass add farm bill. You've only passed four of 12 appropriations bills you are supposed to pass. We face a government shut down and a debt limit in the fall.

Again, is this the best time to spend your time, passing bills that aren't going to become law? And added question, with so much unfinished business, why not stick around instead of taking a five- week vacation?

CANTOR: Well, let me -- let me address and those. I mean, first of all, you've got the president now out giving campaign speeches as if we are in the middle of the presidential election again. These speeches that he's been giving over the last two weeks have nothing new in them. In fact, he's engaging in the blame game.

And when it is easy for the president to get progress going here now. He talks about job creation. We, in the House, we passed a bill that speaks to the fact that they are unemployed workers because they don't have the skills necessary. The president could pick up the phone and tell Harry Reid to bring the bill right up.

We pass a number of energy bills in the House that go towards trying to relieve the consumers out there who are in the middle of the summer driving season of the increasing price at the pump. Is the president joining us and encouraging the Senate to bring it up?

WALLACE: Congressman, I raised exactly the same issues with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew last week. And I said, you keep talking -- the administration -- about how pointless, what a waste of time it is to keep repealing ObamaCare by the Republicans when it's not going to happen. And yet they are making a bunch of proposals that also aren't going to happen.

But you could tend to your own knitting. You could pass a farm bill. You could take -- you have the power of the purse. Only four of 12 appropriations bills have you even passed.

Why not do what the House is supposed to do?

CANTOR: Let me address -- let me continue to address the list of items that you put forward. One, on the farm bill, we have passed the farm bill, OK? We, in the House, what we did is said, you know, we are going to bust up the almost 50-year custom where you're going to marry two different issues and force people to vote on those. We passed the farm bill.

WALLACE: But you take out (ph) all of the food stamps -- maybe the only way for 40 years that you've been able to get a deal.

CANTOR: No, that is not true, not on a Republican majority. And so, Republican majority for the first time says we don't like the way things have always been done in Washington. That's exactly what we are trying to change. And we're going to bring a bill forward under Chairman Lucas' leadership, that actually says about food stamps, we want the people who need those food stamp benefits to get them.

But you know what? It's an issue of fairness. If they are able- bodied people who can work, they ought to do that in order to receive a government benefit. That's the proposal we are bringing forward.

You talk about appropriations bills. Yes, we passed four in the House. The Senate has passed zero, right? And the fact is the House of Representatives has been the only one focused on trying to get a handle on our fiscal problems.

WALLACE: Let me bring up an appropriations bill because this week, you had to pull the transportation and housing bill because you couldn't get enough Republicans to vote for it, to support it.

Afterwards, the House Appropriations chairman, Harold Rogers, said this. Put it on the screen. "I believe that the House has made its choice. Sequestration and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts must be brought to an end." Question, are you willing -- when you get this from the chairman of House Appropriations, a conservative Republican -- are you willing to give, are you willing to compromise on the $109 billion in automatic sequestration cuts starting in October?

CANTOR: Here is the problem. What we need to have happen is leadership on the part of this president and White House to come to the table finally and say, we're going to fix the underlying problem that's driving our deficit. We know that is the entitlement programs and unfunded liability that they are leaving on this generation and the next.

WALLACE: So, are you're saying you are willing to get -- you're willing, if you could get a compromise on entitlements, then you would give up on the sequestration?

CANTOR: What we have said in the House as Republicans, leadership and members alike, is that we want to fix the real problem. The real problem is entitlements. We've also said sequester is not the best way to go about spending reductions. It was, as you know, a default mechanism because Congress couldn't do the job it was supposed to a couple of years ago. We've always said that. But, in fact --

WALLACE: You're willing to give up on sequestration?

CANTOR: But, in fact, Chris, we've always said, president, come join us. But the House really is the only one who has consistently engaged in trying to address the spending problem. And this fall is going to give us a great opportunity I think to all come together and try and tackle the real problem which is the entitlements.

WALLACE: Well, let's talk about that, because when you come back from your five-week recess, you have only nine legislative days until the end of September, when the government runs out of money, funding shuts down.

First of all, do you support a short-term extension, a continuing resolution to give you more time to work out a deal, and what's the basis for a real deal to fund the government and to raise the debt limit?

CANTOR: Well, yes. I think most conservatives, most on the left, Republicans, Democrats alike say we shouldn't be for a government shutdown. What we are trying to do is fund the government and make sure also that we take away the kinds of things that are standing in the way of a growing economy, a better health care. And all the while keeping our eye focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.

And that means when we get to the issue of the debt ceiling, it's not some sort of fictional process or just a process that we go through. What raising the debt limit means, it's increasing the credit limit. For too long now, Washington has disregarded the fact that that does -- what that does is it burdens our kids and theirs. And we actually are digging the hole deeper for the next generation.

WALLACE: But, Congressman, the president -- I'm not saying who's right or who's wrong -- the president wants higher taxes and more spending. You want lower taxes and less spending. The president says, clean debt limit, just give me the increase in the debt limit, and you, the Republicans, the Boehner rules say, no increase in the debt limit without an equal or greater cut in spending.

I'm not saying who's right or wrong. Aren't we headed for a train wreck?

CANTOR: I hope now that we have learned through the process that we can actually find some common ground between the sides.

WALLACE: Where is the common ground?

CANTOR: Well, I can tell you one thing. Last week, Chris, in the House, what we did is codified the president's delay of the ObamaCare employer mandate. And we also said it's only fair to extend that delay of a mandate to individuals and working people as well.

WALLACE: But he opposes that.

CANTOR: We had 22 member s of his party in the House join us. And in fact, what we also saw that week were three national Democratic union leaders speak out on ObamaCare as well. And they said this law is already creating nightmare scenarios to working people in this country. Because as we know, and this union letter specified this, that ObamaCare is turning our economy into a part-time economy.

WALLACE: Again, if I may, sir.

CANTOR: We have -- we have common ground.

WALLACE: Again, I'm not saying -- but you don't have common ground with the president and you don't have common ground with the Senate Republican leadership. I'm not saying you should cave. I asked Jack Lew last week, you know, short of surrender what are you asking for from them. Aren't we headed for a train wreck?

CANTOR: I hope not. Because I think that we are earnest in our desire to fix these problems. And we believe there is common ground in trying to say all of us know you've got to do something about the entitlements. The biggest growing entitlement before us right now has to do with health care. We can do something. The president has already given on ObamaCare, he's already conceded that it's flawed and the employer mandate shouldn't be put into effect. Let's do the same for individuals, let's say it is only fair not to burden them with the taxes in the mandate.

WALLACE: We've got less than a minute left. Immigration. Congressman Paul Ryan says the House will vote this fall. He suggested as specifically as October on a bill to provide 11 million illegal immigrants who are already in this country with legal status. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WI, FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is system that gets people right with the law where they have a probationary period where they have to pay taxes, pay a fine, learn English, learn civics and get right with the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Question. Are you committed to a House vote this fall on an overall path to legalization?

CANTOR: We have not made any announcements as to the schedule yet as to how this will come forward. What I can tell you, Chris, is we have said we are not going to be bringing the Senate bill up. We don't believe that that's the right path towards an immigration reform bill. I think the House has also indicated that we're going to take a position on this. We know the system is broken. We want to fix it. And so, as you know, our committee, the judiciary committee in the House headed up by Bob Goodlatte, my colleague from Virginia, has already taken action on bills having to do with temporary worker permits.

WALLACE: We're running out of time. A simple yes or no. Are you committed to a vote this year on a path towards legalization?

CANTOR: We will have a vote on a series of bills at some point, Chris. And it will deal with a variety of issues. Border security is a really important issue. Because it goes to the trust factor as well. We also, as you know, I have been very active in promoting what I'm calling a kids' bill. It's not ...

(CROSSTALK)

CANTOR: And it says that you ought not hold kids liable for illegal acts of their parents.

WALLACE: All right. We're going to leave it there. I've got to take that as you are not committed to an overall vote on legalization.

CANTOR: I have said that we will be addressing the issue of immigration in the House according to our terms, not the way the Senate did. Because as you know now there is a lot of doubt being cast on whether the folks who voted for that know even what in the end was voted on because of the scramble to get the votes in the last piece of that legislative activity. And we're going to do a lot more deliberative and smart in the House.

WALLACE: Majority Leader Cantor, always a pleasure to talk with you. Covered a lot of ground. Thank you. Please come back, sir.

CANTOR: Thank you, Chris.

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