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. lance corporal

    END corporate welfare!!! subsidies and entitlements to big business, end the days of "creative accounting" that allows big business to pay little or no taxes!! the GOP promised to work on JOBS last election, the USA can't thrive without a middle class, support THEM!! enough of this no compromise semantic hooey get to work for US not just your corporate entitled cronies

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

    GOP jumping on the Tea Party train straight to the poor house. Labeling everything as "tax hikes" is a cute way to deflect the lowest tax brackets to the rich in 60 years! Reagan had higher taxes! They have what they want, they hold their money and their defense (nobody gets to invade us to steal their precious) and giving the finger to the rest of the govt. This is the real class warfare, keep the rich rich, and to everyone else, go to heck.

    July 6, 2011 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Don't forget. When Republicans are talking about "small businesses" they are usually not talking about mom and pop operations with modest gross sales. The legal definition is defined by the number of owners, not the total gross sales or profit. That means privately owned multi-billion dollar corporations qualify as a "small business." You would think someone would separate their business from their personal taxes. But, you can get pay lower net taxes by taking advantage of loopholes designed for actual "small businesses."

    July 6, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  4. duke13

    Cantor is starting to realize the public is mad as hell and the GOP will pay for their NO, NO, NO attitudes in 2012.

    July 6, 2011 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  5. skytag

    "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."

    This sounds like a Republican version of "I'll agree to cutting spending on some programs if I can spend more on others."

    July 6, 2011 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  6. Atinius

    Here's an idea, what if spending cuts are used to reduce annual deficits and any new tax revenues are dedicated only to overall debt reduction in the form of bond retirement. This may result in higher annual deficits offset by less national debt than applying any new tax revenue to the deficit only, however Republicans could then be assured that any new taxes aren't supporting spending, only longer term debt reduction by paying of the accumulated debts of previous years.

    July 6, 2011 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  7. PhilG.

    It's very good to see both parties coming together to try and get this done right.

    Time is wasting and they need to put a move on.

    Program cuts and changes,tax loopholes closed-tax revenues increased-the whole thing needs to be addressed in triple fast time.

    July 6, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  8. Casual Observer

    Wow – compromise! What a concept. Let's see how far THAT ONE flies?

    July 6, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  9. Carl

    While the Republicans on the Federal level arguing about not raising taxes they are on the other hand killing the middle class by raising taxes, fees on services, and allowing insurance to go up without any fight... that is not the FEDERAL, but on the state level. The Federal level tax issue has nothing to do with helping the middle class, because it will affect mostly capital gains. The state and local taxes affect the regular joe.

    July 6, 2011 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  10. mark

    The Republicans, led by George W. Bush, gave us this depression we are living in and they have done EVERYTHING in their power to see we don't come out of it.

    July 6, 2011 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  11. spirit12345

    Call Cantor's office and ask him what he would cut to redcue spending by even 200 billion. They can't tell you cause he has no plan. He is a coward and won't tell the old that their benefits need to be cut and he won't cut farmers dole or anyone that votes GOP. His web site list about 150 million in cuts that millions with a M not billions. He is a coward, he needs to tell us what he would cut or allow democrats to raise taxes to cover the dole of his supporters.

    July 6, 2011 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  12. DC

    Let me get this straight...Cantor is ok with closing loopholes, just so long as we reintroduce the same cuts elsewhere which would essentially net the government no savings whatsoever.... These clowns need to go.

    July 6, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  13. andreNYC

    well... this is encouraging

    July 6, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  14. Jedimiindtrick

    Wow! The same old misinformation, outright lies, and fear mongering. Where are the jobs Cantor?

    And now, due to public pressure and souring polls, the Republicans act as if they all were unopposed to closing tax loophole for the rich all along. Please... give me a break.

    If the two sides cannot come together and reason, and find the center, we are all doomed. There is too much at stake and not a lot of time to posture and rest on one's laurels. This idiot and his ilk need to get it in their heads that America as we know it, cannot stand for the sideshow anymore!

    Buddy, get to working on fixing this country!

    July 6, 2011 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  15. Jay

    Once again the democrats go after one of the demographic groups that have no voice. Retirees have AARP; people with children cry that they need help paying for their kids; and single individuals get hosed – remove their deductions, despite the fact that they consume fewer services than both those other constituencies. Hooray for fairness and everyone pulling their weight.

    July 6, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  16. David Fitzgerald

    It's so stupid. We are never going to get any real change because the GOP leaders don't have the guts to make the tough decisions to lead.

    July 6, 2011 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  17. Ron

    Unlike you, cantor, American families know that spending cuts and closed loopholes alone will not cure the $14T debt that was handed to Obama in Jan 2009. I guess your objective is to try and hide the fact that republicans handed the president $10.7T in debt on the books and another $4T off the books. The FACTS always have a way of coming out. Now, you don't want to pay for the money REPUBLICANS wasted. It cannot be done without tax increases. Start counting your days remaining to Jan 2013 because you (republicans) have screwed things up so bad, YOU WILL GET TOSSED in 2012 and will be ignored for a long, long time.

    July 6, 2011 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  18. demogal

    Is he really over his little hissy-fit?

    July 6, 2011 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  19. Kenny Merriken

    Do the math. 2 trillion over ten years is 200 billion per year. With that decrease, at the present rate, it still means the national debt will continue to increase. The basic problem is a spiritual problem. Or in modern terminology, NIMBY–Not In My Back Yard.– Look at how our debt has grown since January 22, 1973, Roe V. Wade. I present an hypothesis: ** Abolish abortion of inhabitants of the womb nationally, or suffer national bankruptcy. ** The Liberty Bell Bible verse says "“Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” Innocent inhabitants of the womb are being murdered via abortion. Research the Bible and US history. Start with Leviticus 25:10, Proverbs 14:34, and Jeremiah chapter 18.

    July 6, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  20. JSH

    All the GOP care about is the rich and super rich. If you make less than 200K a year you are not on their radar. The GOP is going to destroy this great country if we do not kick them out of power in 2012

    July 6, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  21. Baruch

    I wonder exactly what backroom deals and revolving door promises Cantor is part of, because he is dead set on destroying the economy of this country and causing as much suffering as he can.

    July 6, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  22. shaeneqa

    loopp holes ahahahahaha

    July 6, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  23. Blake

    What a brilliant idea from the Republicans, we can close loopholes on the rich, but offset that by lowering their taxes in other places! So we'll close the loophole for planes, but we'll create a loophole for private yachts.

    July 6, 2011 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  24. annieLD

    Help me out. What's a "loophole.?" I'm just a wage earner. Do I get any of those or are they just for rich people?

    July 6, 2011 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  25. roscoe

    Keep screwing around and default on the US loans and see if the country sticks by any of you. Cut spending, raise taxes, and get the budget back in order. Everybody needs to give something to make this happen.

    July 6, 2011 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
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