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CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript


Location: Washington, DC


HARRY SMITH: And joining us now House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Mister Leader thanks very much for being here.

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR (R-Virginia/Majority Leader): Good morning, Harry. HARRY SMITH: One of the things you said earlier this week is that emergency funding should be offset by cuts to the budget deficit. Do you standby that?

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: First of all, Harry, I-- I know that America is just stunned by the scope of devastation and loss and-- and the horrific tragedy that the people of Joplin and other places across the country really are experiencing this tornado season. And so I know. And our hearts go out to them. And also we see in the healing process that there is an appropriate
federal role. Congress will find the money and it'll be offset. And we're going to wait for the President to come forward with his recommendations as to the amounts. And again, Congress will have the money to help begin the rebuilding and the healing process in Joplin.

HARRY SMITH: But will you insist that there is a quid pro quo that there's a trade?

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: You know, Harry, it-- it's like this if when a family is struck with tragedy, like the family of Joplin, you know, they have, let's say if they had, you know, ten thousand dollars set aside to do something else with--to buy a new car, to do something else.

And then they were struck with a sick member of the family or something and needed to take that money to apply it to that, that's what they would do because families don't have unlimited money. And-- and really neither does the federal government. But there's no question there's a federal role here to play.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: Congress will find the money. It will be offset. And until the President comes forward with his recommendation--


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: --about how much, you know, I know there were plenty of charitable efforts going on now. is a terrific organ-- effort on the part of the alliance on aging in Missouri.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: And I know all of America wants to join to help people who have been so struck by tragedy.

HARRY SMITH: Let's talk about the special election that took place earlier this week up in New York, up in New York 26. Some people suggested that Medicare was in fact, the single issue that put the election over in a fa-- favor of the Democrats. Do you believe that's true?

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: Well, I mean, Harry, I don't think and it's undeniable that it played some role in the election. But any time you have one side demagoguing and frankly, accusing the other side in-- in-- in a way that's not factual of trying to reform the program, certainly that's going to influence an electorate. But listen, as far as Medicare is concerned, you
know, there's a simple choice here. Either we're going to save the program or you let it go bankrupt. And, in fact, we put forward a program to reform Medicare and to save it. But this Congressional Budget Office as well as the trustees--


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: --of the program itself say it will go
bankrupt. The real question--

HARRY SMITH (overlapping): In the next decade.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: --it-- within next decade. So for those fifty-four and younger in this country, they won't have the Medicare that exists today. And it's a fact.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: And so the question is and I know Debbie Wasserman Shultz will be on after me-- I'd ask her where is their plan?


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: They don't have a plan. We put a plan forward. And, you know, again it's a question of leadership here.

HARRY SMITH: Do-- do you and the rest of the Republicans in the House stand by the Ryan plan as-- as you all voted for?


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: Ab-- absolutely. I mean, you've seen that. And you've seen the vote in the Senate. We put forward a plan that saves 6.2 trillion dollars over the tenyear budget window included in that is a necessary reforms to save the, you know, entitlement programs.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR (overlapping): We know--

HARRY SMITH (overlapping): But the-- but the question becomes, is it-- is the voucher the answer? Is that the only answer? Because, if I understand it correctly, I get a voucher and then I have to go out on the marketplace and hope I'm going to get the insurance I need. And if that's the-- that's the case, you're talking about medical rationing. You're talking about going to
insurance companies to-- to get what you hope you-- you deserve.

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: Well, Harry, I'm-- the-- the-- the reforms that we put forward would apply to everyone fifty-four and younger. And again, what it does is it reforms the program to ensure its still there. And it is much like what most people have with their employer plans.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: That they are by the employer given the benefit but then choose from a variety of plans out there that best fit their family's needs. So it's an attempt to try and personalize the-- the Medicare program to allow seniors to choose much like they have with the Medicare Part D program--


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: --when it comes to prescription drugs. But we believe very strongly that if we can put in place the kind of reforms necessary in the health care arena to allow for more choice, to allow people to actually choose what's best for them and not have Washington do it, that that is the best way to reform. But again, I think the point is, Harry, the
other side--


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: --has not put forward any plan--

HARRY SMITH (overlapping): Are you--

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR (overlapping): --any plan.

HARRY SMITH: --are you concerned at all that this could turn into a political albatross though? I mean there are some Democrats that are saying, yahoo, look where they are. This is what we're going to run on and this is what's-- this could get us the House back.

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: Well, again this is demagoguery. I think it is the typical Medi-Scare, sort of tactics that the Democrats are using again. And I believe the country, you know, they understands what leadership is. And let's look at that Medicare program. Here are the facts. The facts are ten thousand people a day.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: New eligible people a day--

HARRY SMITH (overlapping): Pretty much.

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: --every single day--


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: --become entitled. Then secondly, when you look at the revenues arrive from Medicare premiums and taxes, they cover only a little over fifty percent of the program. So that means every single day times--


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: --ten thousand you are fifty percent in the hole.

HARRY SMITH: And the cost that's--


HARRY SMITH: --medical care continues to skyrocket.

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: --you can-- right. You cannot survive that.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: And that's a reality. And this is what is so striking is that Democrats have not put forward any plan whatsoever. It's bankruptcy for them. And so, I-- I think that the American people are tired of promises--


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: --being made and not kept.

HARRY SMITH: Let's talk about something else you introduced this week which was a-- a jobs program. And one of the key po-- portions of it was a notion to reduce corporate taxes down to twenty-five percent. Some people said, well, this sounds like stuff we've heard before. The Washington Post said, called it "old ideas with fancy new clip art." Is this-- are-- are these real
ideas? Is this a real way to put people back to work?

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: Listen, Harry, I was hosting a small business job forum in my hometown of Richmond last week. I met with a number of small businesses and entrepreneurs. And they weren't telling me, hey, we want something new. They don't really care about that. They care what works.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: And-- and what they said was that why can't we get a Washington that sort of helps us, not hurts us?


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: And the kinds of things that they were asking for were lower the tax rate, try and put some common sense back into the regulatory environment here in Washington. Make it so that small business can invest again and create jobs. You know, there are too many people out of work in this country. And frankly, the economy is not growing
enough. And our small business jobs plan is about speaking to the entrepreneurs that we know are the job engine.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: And the question I would go back to you just like on the spending issue.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: Republicans have put forward a plan.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: Now we have also demonstrated again that cutting is just not enough. We've got to grow this economy. We've got a plan. Where's theirs?

HARRY SMITH: Let's talk about the cutting. You meet with Vice President Joe Biden twice a week, several hours each meeting. The rumblings we're hearing from it is that you're actually making progress. Have you really isolated a trillion dollars in-- in budget deficit reductions?

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: Those-- those talks which actually we've-- we've been meeting for I think over three weeks now, they have been, I think, all po-- all positive. Everything is on the table. We've said as Republicans we're not going to go for tax increases.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: I think the administration gets that.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: But we've also put everything on the table as far as cuts.

And I can see, yes, we-- we can accomplish well over a trillion dollars in cuts.

HARRY SMITH: Well over a trillion.

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: Well over a trillion dollars in cuts. But the-- the striking thing, Harry is, you know, you get people in the room of different philosophies--


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: --and persuasions and I think what we've actually seen is it's easier to find places to cut and to gain efficiencies than the Democrats may have thought otherwise.

HARRY SMITH: Is Medicare included in this?

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: Everything is on the table. Everything on the table.


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: And as we know the big drivers in our deficit often in the future are the health care entitlement programs.

HARRY SMITH: Right. Sarah Palin is in town this week. And she's getting ready to start a bus tour just in the last couple of days since that was announced. I mean she gets a lion's share of the attention. Would you like to see her get in this race?

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: I mean, you know, listen, Sarah Palin is someone that I think reflects what we Republicans believe.

SARAH PALIN: Hello, Madison, Wisconsin.

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: And that is this country has a choice to make. The-- the country has a choice to make this upcoming election, November "12. And that is do we want a country that speaks of more government and higher taxes or do we want a country that's-- that
tilts towards the private sector and says, you know what, that's where the innovation comes from. That's where the opportunity lies. And I think Sarah Palin, like the other individuals looking at this race or in this race, believe very strongly that we have to put forward a plan to get that America that we know going again.

HARRY SMITH: You satis-- you satisfied with the candidates who are-- are-- are at least talking about running or said they're going to run, Republican candidates?

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: Yes. The candidates that are in the race are serious.

They've all said, you know what, Washington has not changed as far as the White House is concerned. What we hope to do as Republicans in the House to say--


REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: --look, we want leadership. We want real leadership. And that's why we put forward these plans. And, in fact, I think our candidates are beginning to embrace the type of things we're doing because we're actually beginning to change the way that this town works. We just need some help in the White House and in the Senate.

HARRY SMITH: Do you want Michele Bachmann to stay in the House or do you want her to run for President.

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: Listen, Michele Bachmann is a great American. She's a smart woman. She's articulate. She is a--a-- a business woman, an attorney, a tax attorney. She is very qualified to do whatever it is she would like to do. And I've, you know had the pleasure of working with her and know she brings a lot to the table.

HARRY SMITH: Mister Leader, we sure appreciate you coming on this morning.



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