Cantor Decries Brinksmanship, Urges Unity Among House GOP On Spending

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Cantor Decries Brinksmanship, Urges Unity Among House GOP On Spending
The Hill
Erik Wasson
August 17, 2011

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) urged rank-and-file Republicans Wednesday to avoid brinksmanship and “minimize uncertainty” surrounding 2012 spending and the deficit supercommittee, in order to promote economic growth.

In a memo, Cantor told members businesses are sitting on piles of cash in part because of policy uncertainty in Washington.

“To be fair, few of my constituents are coming up to me and using the phrase “policy uncertainty.” But they are talking about the mess in Washington, the constant sense -- fueled by those maniacal countdown clocks on cable TV -- that we are “THIS CLOSE” to going over the cliff. People feel like they have no idea what Washington will or won’t do next,” he writes.


While Cantor points to the Obama administration for causing the uncertainty, Democrats have been saying it was Republicans who caused businesses to become skittish when they threatened to allow the U.S. to default on its debt obligations during the debt ceiling debate.

Cantor in the memo says some uncertainty is to be expected with divided government and uncertainty is better than permanent tax increases—something the Obama administration was demanding during the debt fight.

To help reduce uncertainty, Cantor is moving to quell rank-and-file grumbling about 2012 spending and the supercommittee.

He said full-year 2012 spending bills should be enacted at the spending levels agreed to in the debt ceiling deal.

That deal set next year’s spending at $1.043 trillion but some more conservative members were still wishing for deeper cuts next year.

Agreeing to proceed with appropriations at the set level would help avoid a spending fight that could shut the government down after Sept. 30, cantor said. He is also making clear he wants full-year bills enacted, rather than an omnibus package or continuing resolution.

“While all of us would like to have seen a lower discretionary appropriations ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year, the debt limit agreement did set a level of spending that is a real cut from the current year level. I believe it is in our interest to enact into law full-year appropriations bills at this new lower level,” Cantor writes.

Cantor is also urging his members to support the deficit reduction supercommittee created by the debt deal, adding that the supercommittee must succeed in coming up with “at least” $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts, rather than allowing automatic cuts to be triggered.

“I have heard some assert that certain sectors would be better off under the sequester. I believe this is false and would unnecessarily induce more uncertainty and a worse policy outcome,” he said.

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingirch in recent days has been attacking the supercommittee as a “dumb” idea that concentrates too much power in the hands of 12 members. The supercommittee is charged with coming up with a deficit reduction plan by Nov. 23 and the group’s plan is guaranteed a vote in Congress.

As part of reducing uncertainty, Cantor says the GOP will focus on ending regulations and “stopping the discussions of new stimulus spending.” President Obama and Senate Democrats are signaling they want the supercommittee to produce a stimulus plan.

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