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MSNBC Interview With House Minority Whip Eric Cantor - Transcript

Location: Washington, DC


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MS. MITCHELL: Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor is the House Republican whip, and joins us now live from Capitol Hill. Thank you, Congressman, for joining us.

First of all, you guys have a new web ad up, this attacking Nancy Pelosi and the energy bill. Let's take a look -- a quick look at it.

NARRATOR: (From videotape.) Spending by the president and Democrat Congress are out of control. What's Speaker Nancy Pelosi's number one priority? Creating a national energy tax. They call it "cap and trade." We call it "cap and tax." It will kill economic growth, slamming small businesses with higher energy bills resulting in the loss of jobs.

MS. MITCHELL: Okay. Do you -- you're the whip. Do you have the votes to defeat it?

REP. CANTOR: Well, listen, Andrea, it's good to be with you.

First of all, that video is up on And it really is the essence of the bill that we're going to see come to the floor tomorrow.

You know, this is a scheme that will impose over $3,000 costs on families across America. And while we have in every poll out there -- the reality reflected, where people are worried about the economy and want jobs, we are somehow focusing on making it more difficult for that to happen. We're making it more difficult for working families and for small business.

So, as you know -- as you know, Andrea, we have 178 votes on our side of the aisle. There are many on the other side of the aisle, more centrist-thinking individuals, who don't necessarily think that the way back to economic growth is to impose a national energy tax, which is exactly what this bill does.

MS. MITCHELL: Of course, you know your -- this is a prebuttal by you because, within the hour, the president's going to be in the Rose Garden. We'll be carrying this live. And he's planning to describe how this bill will actually create jobs and spur a green sector, a whole renewal, as well as, of course, cutting carbon emissions and the carbon footprint, which is critically important to Americans and to people around the globe.

REP. CANTOR: Well, Andrea, I say that is the part that we can agree with, that we want to do all we can to reduce carbon emissions. We want to create jobs. But the experience has been, with schemes like this, we've had utter failure. The global community has tried twice, one time in Rio in 1992, the other time in Kyoto in 2000, to set emissions reductions in this manner. And we have failed on both fronts.

We've got to be smarter about this. We have to got to invest in science and technology to produce a green economy. We should not be making it more difficult for us to attain these goals by imposing some type of artificial scheme that we will live to regret.

Right now, it is about jobs. It is about making it easier for working families. It's not about imposing taxes that evidence suggests -- in places like Spain, for instance, where they went about doing it this way, for every green job that was created, they lost two other jobs. We want a net gain in jobs.

MS. MITCHELL: Let me ask you about Republican politics, because the governor of South Carolina has gotten himself into a little -- a lot of hot water, I should say. What about the problem that the Republican Party is now having? You had Senator Ensign. Now, you've got Governor Sanford. Not that Democrats don't have their own scandals, but the Republicans are now losing potential candidates for 2012 as rapidly as they're getting them.

REP. CANTOR: Well, listen, Andrea, as you suggest, the Republican Party doesn't have a monopoly on scandal. And, unfortunately, this has happened to Mark Sanford's family, and I know that our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family. And, listen, I do think that the American people hold their elected officials at a higher standard. And elected officials are expected to live up to that.

He didn't. I think that his explanation yesterday and his apology, he noted that. And now I think that we need to begin to focus really on the issues at hand, which is, frankly, the economy. And I know that the coverage won't stop on this for a while, but we in Washington really need to focus on the priority of the economy.

MS. MITCHELL: Well, as a Republican, would you like to see him resign as governor? Would that stop the coverage?

REP. CANTOR: You know what, Andrea? This is up to the people of the state of South Carolina. And, you know, I prefer to try and focus on the business that the people in Virginia elected me to attend to, which, right now, is focusing on job growth.

MS. MITCHELL: Okay. Eric Cantor, thank you so much. Thanks for joining us.

REP. CANTOR: Thank you, Andrea.

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