Cantor opens the door to possible compromise in debt-limit talks
July 6th, 2011
06:27 PM ET
10 years ago

Cantor opens the door to possible compromise in debt-limit talks

(CNN)-A day before congressional leaders meet with President Barack Obama to discuss how to raise the debt limit, the number-two House Republican opened the door to possible compromise, saying Wednesday he is open to closing some of the tax "loopholes" that Democrats have been pushing, but only if those items are offset by reducing taxes in other areas.

"If the president wants to talk loopholes, we'll be glad to talk loopholes," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said at his weekly session with reporters on Capitol Hill.

"We've said all along that preferences in the code aren't something that helps economic growth overall," Cantor said. But he immediately qualified his comment, noting, "We're not for any proposal that increases taxes and any type of discussion should be coupled with offsetting tax cuts somewhere else."

Cantor drew a distinction between closing tax "loopholes" - such as those for corporate jet owners - and other tax-related proposals raised by Democrats in the negotiations that he said the GOP could not accept because they amounted to tax hikes. Republicans have strongly opposed a proposal floated by Democrats to eliminate tax deductions for individuals making over $200,000 a year.

Cantor's comments Wednesday represented a change from the GOP message that tax revenues were off the table in the debt talks. While congressional Republicans have indicated that they would be willing to look at closing some loopholes, they have insisted up to now those changes had to be done as part of broader tax-reform effort that lowered corporate rates - not as part of a debt-limit agreement. In a sign that Cantor's remarks represented a shift, his office quickly circulated press reports covering his comments.

The majority leader pushed back at President Obama for saying that Republicans left the bipartisan negotiations led by Vice President Joe Biden because they opposed ending a tax loophole for corporate-jet owners, insisting, "that's just not the case."

"Clearly the other side wished to impose tax hikes on small businesses and families in this country," Cantor said.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democratic leader, said his party's pressure had put Republicans on the defensive.

"Our focus on tax loopholes seems to be putting Republicans on their heels on the issue of revenues," Schumer said in a statement. "But if Republicans are going say we can only close these loopholes in a revenue-neutral way, it is like taking one step forward and then two steps back. The point isn't to get rid of these loopholes simply to pay for new tax breaks elsewhere; it's to do it in a way that contributes to the reduction of the debt."

A GOP aide told CNN that Cantor's comments were coordinated with Speaker John Boehner's office, and the two met Wednesday morning to discuss Boehner's meeting with Obama over the weekend and the upcoming White House meeting on Thursday.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, asked whether he could support closing loopholes, appeared skeptical, telling reporters, "I'm open to tax reform; we need to do it broadly. To sort of cherry pick items in the context of this current negotiation with the White House strikes me as pretty challenging."

Cantor outlined the spending cuts in the Biden-led talks, indicating they could be a blueprint for a deal that could pass the House. Cantor said the group discussed cutting "non-health care" mandatory spending by over $300 billion; over $400 billion in health care mandatory spending; and a mix of discretionary spending reductions plus interest savings, which added up to more than $2 trillion in cuts over a ten-year period.

The number-two Republican echoed President Obama's opposition to any short-term approach to raise the debt limit for a few months. "I agree with him. We need to go and drive towards a deal which is not a deal which kicks the can down the road," Cantor said.

Filed under: Debt • Eric Cantor • Taxes
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. jb1963

    Since when is closing loopholes a tax increase? A loophole is just a way to avoid taxes that are on the books. These loopholes are created by the big business right wig idiots.

    July 6, 2011 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  2. Patrick Lewis

    FTA: "Clearly the other side wished to impose tax hikes on small businesses and families in this country," Cantor said.

    I'm sorry, where did this message "clearly" come from? The only thing clear here is a desire on the part of the GOP to have everything they wish without any compromise. That the news is that Cantor said ANYTHING about taxes tells us more than the story itself. That this alone is newsworthy means we have something resembling a playground squabble in congress about something that can pull up the fabric of this country.

    July 6, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  3. vloplame

    A new religion...

    July 6, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  4. John in AZ

    Open? Open to what? So, Cantor will allow making it possible to follow the tax code, if he gets his way on tax cuts? That's no different than before, and may even be worse.

    July 6, 2011 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  5. raja

    Republican seems don't want to give up any thing. Wanna give with one hand and snatch with another hand. Nice childish talk.

    July 6, 2011 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  6. C K .Justus

    How can even republicans defend the massive tax loopholes that the rich get for their corporate jet, the oil companies have not had even an increase in the leases or royalities since oil was 17 dollars a barrel. They are making out like bandits and do not have to even use a gun.

    I would push for the tax rates on the rich go back to what they were in 2000 and if the republicans wanted to put us in default and cost this country, then let them do it..

    They are owned by the rich and even the rich submit them the bills they want to pass in congress and the republicans introduce and push for their passage.

    July 6, 2011 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    NO! Close the loopholes and DON'T cut the programs that help the most vulnerable among us!

    If the wealthiest could somehow eke out a living paying a top rate 39% under Clinton (who left us with a budget SURPLUS), then they can do it now! We're talking a measly 3% increase in their tax rate – and when you're making $1million a year, you'll still have plenty of cash to live on.

    I'm tired of coddling the wealthy who have spent the last 10 years taking their Bush tax cuts windfall and investing it overseas!

    It's about time they started PAYING THEIR FAIR SHARE!

    July 6, 2011 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
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