Cantor opens the door to possible compromise in debt-limit talks
July 6th, 2011
06:27 PM ET
8 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. Willy Brown

    Republicans you own that guy in the W.H. he will meet your demands. Do not buckle or agree on anythinmg the dipsticks wnat.

    July 6, 2011 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  2. logic in LA

    Canter's offer is anther sign of how little Republicans understand economics.
    We have been paying for an unfinanced war for 10 years. They cut taxes in 2001 but failed to cut spending eating up any surplus or hope of financial stability.
    Canter and his cronies act as though they are brilliant mathematicians, but the fact is- they have no clue what they are doing and never have. 1 + ! does still equal 2

    July 6, 2011 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  3. B

    I can’t understand how people like Cantor ever got elected in the first place. These people apparently are willing to risk the country s future over the issue of including taxes as part of the solution like it had never happened before..

    Where have these people be living? They are mainly responsible for most of this situation since Ragan started most of it. He raised taxes several times during his watch and the Republicans think he was God himself!

    July 6, 2011 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  4. Angy

    It's about time they start talking about having the top 2% of americans pay more taxes. I'm sure they realize that it takes more then the rich to get them (the repugs) reelected.

    July 6, 2011 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  5. Republican Robber Baron

    Why only SOME loopholes Eric? End all of the loopholes, including tax breaks for sending $ or labor overseas. It just doesn't make any sense why the Republicans want to cherry pick the tax loopholes. Errr actually Eric is probably trying to give cover to his Big $ special interest lobbyist financiers. What a typical Partisan creep.

    July 6, 2011 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  6. VoxVerum

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH! These clowns are ridiculous! I have more luck negotiating with my 4yo. Closing a tax loophole and then lowering taxes elsewhere gets us nowhere you idiot!

    July 6, 2011 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  7. Eileen Curras

    I cannot trust ever the Republlicans. Please have them write it on paper. The word compromise does not mean anything.

    July 6, 2011 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  8. one voice

    Not only loopholes you crook, we are talking ELIMINATING tax breaks for the MEGA RICH, OIL COMPANIES, HEDGE FUND MANAGERS and Corporations that SEND OUR JOBS OVERSEES, GOT IT!!!!!!!

    July 6, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  9. JD

    There's a genuine desire to simplify the tax code, and then there are faux proposals to "close loopholes" that are really just intended to increase tax disparity. We need the former, not the latter.

    July 6, 2011 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  10. Eric

    It is just talk. They will never close tax loopholes donors pay for them to be re-elected by.

    July 6, 2011 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  11. Ex-GOP Con

    "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.


    But you and the GOP/TEA BIrthers ARE kicking the can down the road. YOU incurred the debt under Bush and the GOP. The Dems incurred the debt under President Obama and the Dems. The debt has ALREADY been incurred. It's time WE act like grown-ups and PAY for what WE spent. The right needs to pay for their debt; the left theirs. And that means LETTING THE BUSH GOP TAX CUT EXPIRE. Instead of owning up to your debt CANTOR, you blame the Dems. STOP kicking the can down the road down to our children. They shouldn't bear the burden of higher taxes and decreased government resources b/c YOU CANTOR refuse to pay for your debt.

    I see President Obama and the Dems compromise when it comes to spending cuts. What will the GOP compromise when it comes to increasing tax revenue to pay down the debt and restore America's fiscal house?

    The right IS becoming deranged.
    Vote for Term Limits for Congress!

    July 6, 2011 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  12. K3Citizen

    The Tea Party is against wasteful spending so why did it take this long for the republicans to see that loophole lead to wasteful spending?

    July 6, 2011 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  13. Russ

    Let's see, we'll close those loopholes to try to bring in extra revenues, but we want to cut taxes somewhere else. How does this help? Doesn't this seem like and oxomoron? No you're right, it's just plain stupid!!

    July 6, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  14. thomas

    We need to go and drive towards a deal which is not a deal which kicks the can down the road," Cantor said.

    This coming from a guy who hedged short on America !

    July 6, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  15. Blame Bush

    Cantor does not get it, still.

    We cannot cut any taxes until the debt is paid in full and the budget is in surplus. That's years away.

    Meantime, we need to restore tax rates to where they were in 2001 and cut lots of spending.

    July 6, 2011 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  16. Joe

    We all have to make sacrifices...this includes the rich to

    July 6, 2011 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  17. keeth in cali

    Is this man schizophrenic? One day he storms out like a spoiled child, the next day he says he's open to compromise. But surely he will have a tantrum again and blame it entirely on someone else.

    July 6, 2011 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  18. Liza

    Cantor opens the door. Right. In other words, Cantor opens the door as long as his rich greedy GOP friends still get their big tax cuts? End of story.

    July 6, 2011 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  19. Randy, San Francisco

    Business as usual in Washington DC, political kabuki theater at it's worst. The two parties will hammer out a deal using smoke and mirrors. Kicking the problem down the road is the only realistic solution given the entrenched ideological positions held by both parties and the power of special interest groups have sway over our elected polliticians.

    July 6, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  20. Mike

    At a time when our nation may be at the brink of default on our debts, the republicans say it is, what? unfair? bad economics? or some other ogre? to ask those who have a huge ability to pay far more taxes to help bail us out of the mess the republicans got into in the first place? The ideology they expound is simply a remake of the "trickle down" ploy of ther Reaganites, which proved to be a disaster. What that policy did was to accelerate the flow of wealth from the middle and lower incomes to the already wealthy. It stinks, and it stinks that so many in the middle and lower incomes fall for this facade of a policy.

    July 6, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |

    tax revenue has to be increased to support the war costs. the USA is spending more than the revenue received.
    if the loopholes are eliminated the effect is to increase revenue without increasing taxes. an approval by the republicans to eliminate the loopholes and then decrease taxes appears to be $0 increase in revenue. this is a no brainer but the republicans just want to object to this tax loophole and really want the middle class to be hurt. why can't we work together. we all have to live herel

    July 6, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  22. Craig

    Cantor is completely unqualified to lead people, unless they are corporate donors!

    July 6, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  23. RKN

    As a Republican I know that if I want to pay off my debts I cannot do it by earning more money.
    Even if all my income goes to pay for a mortgage and food and my car and the kids education (wait, as a republican I don't believe in education), property taxes that pay for city services.... still, the only way to pay off debts is to spend less – even if given the chance to earn more.

    July 6, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  24. Michael

    Anyone...regardless of which end of the political spectrum they are on...who thinks that the deficit problem can be fixed via only spending cuts or tax increases is as dumb as the day is long.........and has been drinking red or blue KookAid. The Rs need to pull their heads out of the TEA party's you-know-what.

    July 6, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  25. GoBamaMan

    In other words, you can close tax loopholes all that you want. But, we won't let you use that extra income. In fact, we will take whatever taxes you make away from your existing budget, because we need to give it back to the wealthy.

    July 6, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
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