Monday, September 12, 2011
Mr. Cantor: Good afternoon. Welcome back. I want to welcome Congressman Tim Scott from Charleston who will have a few things to say and join us in today's pen and pad. Before we get into the back and forth, I just want to say I know all of us in some way, shape or form participated in 9/11 remembrance ceremonies yesterday. It was a very stark reminder of what this country has been through this last decade - a reminder that that experience has really bound us together and renewed our commitment to maintaining our security and doing what is necessary so that our law enforcement personnel, our military, our intelligence folks have what they need to continue to make us safe.
This week on the floor, we will be considering Congressman Scott's bill having to do with the overbearing action being taken by the National Labor Relations Board against the Boeing Corporation in his home state that is threatening to eliminate current jobs and making it nearly impossible to hire new workers because of South Carolina's Right to Work status. As a citizen of a Right to Work state, as a Virginian, I'm also equally concerned by this precedent being set by the NLRB.
Today we heard the President this morning say that he will be sending his jobs bill to Congress. I said on Friday when the President came to my hometown of Richmond that I believe there are a number of areas that we can actually work on together. Specifically, the President talked about providing tax relief to small businesses. That has been a part of our job creator's plan and certainly offers an area of agreement. He talked about passage of the trade bills in his speech to Congress and hopefully it will be evident in the plan he sends up. Again, that is something we have been talking about for several years now and hopefully we can finally get that done.
The President talked about the need to eliminate burdensome regulations and to get rid of the bureaucracy which is something, Tim and I, as well as our colleagues, very much want to see happen as is evident in our fall agenda that we are looking at going forward. We talked about reforming unemployment benefits and the programs surrounding them. In fact, in December of '09, Then-Leader Boehner and I went to the White House and gave the President our No Cost Jobs Plan and we mentioned the type of program that the President talked about in Georgia. This is something, again, that we can work on. We passed the patent reform bill. That is evidence to the fact that we can work together. We can really do something constructive to deliver results for people.
I said on Friday and I will say again today, I do not think that the President's all or nothing approach is something that is constructive. We have good ideas and he has some ideas that we think are good. We can bring these together. But let’s not allow the things in his bill that we disagree with to get in the way of producing some results. That is it plain and simple. For the President to sit here and say pass my bill, all or nothing, it is just not the way things are done anywhere, much less in Washington. The reality is we have 9.1 percent unemployment in this country and the people are fearful, and they want to see us get something done.
I also noticed in the President's speech on Thursday night, his reiteration on Friday and I assume by his remarks in the Rose Garden, he will be sending up the jobs plan today, but yet leave the pay-fors out until later. I know he asked our Super Committee to find the pay-fors for his bill. But if he is sending up a bill next week, I hope that the President is not suggesting that we pay for his proposals with a massive tax increase at the end of 2012 on job creators that we are actually counting on to reduce unemployment.
This week on the floor, we are going to be considering a joint FAA and highway extension bill. In addition to that, we will have the NCLB charter school provision that will pass which we began discussing last week. We will also have a vote on the resolution of disapproval of the President's request to increase the debt ceiling, the first tranche. We also will have Congressman Scott's bill on the NLRB and its move against those of us in Right to Work states and the potential to stop job creation there.
The President has said several times since Thursday night that everything in his plan and in his bill has been supported by both Republicans and Democrats. If this is the test that we should be looking at and moving forward with, our agenda this fall that will rollback ten regulations or proposed regulations that are impeding job growth have nearly all been supported by both sides, including this week's NLRB bill. I hope the President will join us in supporting those efforts because they are squarely aimed at removing the impediments for small businesses and others to create jobs and get people back to work. With that, I want to ask my friend and colleague, the gentleman from South Carolina, who as you know also is a member of our leadership team.
Mr. Scott: Eric, I want to thank you for making sure that this bill got to the floor this week. I think it is a very important move for all of us in America. When you think about our national unemployment at 9.1 percent, I think more specifically about the fact that South Carolina's unemployment is at 10.9 percent. What our bill does is it simply removes one of the remedies out of the dozen remedies that NLRB has to deal with the challenges of labor. What we want done is simply to say to the NLRB that you cannot move, shift, or transfer jobs from one location to another location. That in essence is another start of a cultural war, another class warfare attempt by the President and by the NLRB to do this. When I think about the comments of the former Chairman of the NLRB when he talked about the fact that Canadian firms are now becoming a little more jittery because of the actions of the NLRB, that says a lot about where we are heading from a regulatory environment that is going to be a job killing environment. More from a national perspective than simply from within my district we should look at this issue of what the NLRB can do to move not only American jobs to another country, but American corporations to another country.
Mr. Cantor: Terrific. Questions.
Q: Mr. Cantor, word out of the White House is that the pay-fors will be done through $400 billion through limits on itemized deductions, $18 billion through carried interest and the balance on oil, gas and corporate jets loopholes being closed, which would take you close to what they are saying the price tag is. What is your reaction, both of your reactions to that?
Mr. Cantor: Again, I haven't seen that and I would say I imagine the largest number comes from getting rid of the deductions. We will have to see what they look at. You look at what the President is proposing now with temporary relief for businesses on the tax side, as well as working people and the payroll tax, you look at the elimination of the existing tax rates at the end of next year according to the President's plan, and you are creating a huge cliff and a tax increase that will go into effect January 1 . It raises the question that we really need to take a look at this policy because it is not as if you're only going to affect this year. It is fine that this is an election year that the President is looking at and wants to do everything he can to improve the economy. I think all of us want to improve the economy but we ought to be doing so with a little bit longer view.
Q: Can you address the carried interest provision?
Mr. Cantor: I said during the Biden discussions when that issue came up that if there is abuse going on and mischaracterizing income that should be characterized as ordinary and classifying as capital. However, fundamental partnership tax law in real estate deals and others, from the smaller deals to the very large deals, if there is an underlying ownership interest in an asset, there is capital at risk. If the deal goes bust; no money, if the deal is successful there is a return, you pay the capital income tax. That is fundamental tax law in partnership tax law in this country. I'm not for changing that because I think that the capital gains tax and lowering it, distinguished from ordinary income, is the essence of what we believe is an entrepreneurial-based free market economy. We want to provide incentives for investors and entrepreneurs to put capital at risk so we can create jobs. Again, I have not seen the proposal but I made that point very strenuously throughout the discussions.
Q: Further on the jobs bill, can you give us a sense, please, of the timing of the bill and how quickly you expect to move it and whether it might come into play with the work of the Joint Committee?
Mr. Cantor: Again, I haven't seen the bill yet. I think it is kind of premature for us to predict the timing. Nonetheless, I have said we all ought to want to work together and not be insisting all or nothing. The country and this town has had enough of that. We will take a look at this. There are provisions which, at least on the surface, seem to provide an opportunity for us to work together and produce results.
Q: Mr. Leader, you ticked off a number of things, areas of agreement that you think you can work together on but reportedly there are some members of your caucus who are kind of grumbling behind the scenes that anything you do will give the President some victories. How do you balance that politically by actually getting something done for the economy and not appearing that you're helping to re elect the President?
Mr. Cantor: All of us are here to try to do what is right by the people that elect us and what is right for this country. Right now, it is loud and clear when all of us go home, that we need to address this economy, and we need to provide an environment for growth. When there are potential for areas of agreement, we are going to work toward accomplishing those.
Q: And you can kind of calm your members down and use that kind of rationale?
Mr. Cantor: Again, I think that good policy will make for good politics, and then the constituency will decide come November '12.
Q: Mr. Leader, your intention to work together on the jobs bill, do you envision that meaning that you will enter into negotiations and discussions with the Senate and the President before putting a bill on the floor or put your favorite jobs package on the floor, pass that and use that as a basis for -
Mr. Cantor: All I can tell you, not having seen the bill, is that Speaker Boehner and I sent the President a letter prior to his coming to the Hill saying why don't we just sit down and talk now, we have had enough of this posturing, let’s talk so we can get something done and produce results. To say “pass my bill” 17 times is not the tone nor is it a way forward for us that will be acceptable to the American people. They want to see results.
Q: What do you think of some of the spending provisions that the President outlined, like renovating schools and foreclosed homes in neighborhood, some of the more spending measures do you think the Republicans could accept any of those items?
Mr. Cantor: First of all, anything that is akin to the stimulus bill is not going to be acceptable to the American people. Most folks understand that the promises made surrounding the stimulus program were not kept. I don't believe that our Members are going to be interested in pursuing that. I certainly am not. There are perhaps laudable goals behind all of the proposals, the fact is we don't have the money and we have to prioritize. Right now, it is about getting people back to work. Right now, we want to focus on small businesses and the private sector because focusing on the stimulus and the public sector has not gotten us anywhere.
Q: Mr. Leader, on that point, last week you said a couple of times if there were some kind of infrastructure spending you would be interested. You didn't mention that today as an area of potential agreement. Could you talk about where you could agree or couldn't agree on that?
Mr. Cantor: I said last week and I will say it again today, we don't want to increase spending that doesn't work. We want to help streamline the system so that monies can be appropriated and spent on the projects that they are meant for at quickly as possible. That could be beneficial to growth, to jobs and the rest. The President's suggestion of forming an infrastructure bank right now, as I said last week, would create a Fannie and Freddie for roads and bridges. I think it is an entity that would not be transparent and wouldn't be accountable to the taxpayers whose money it is to begin with. If we are going to prioritize spending on infrastructure, let us get the system straight, let us get the permitting process straight, let us remove the mandates that are now tying up the states right now and forcing them to spend money on things that are not necessarily related to vehicular transportation. Let us remove those barriers and put the money to work where it should be.
Q: So more reform of the system rather than additional money?
Mr. Cantor: I think first steps should be that you’re not throwing good money after bad, that you're fixing the system and then we can discuss that. A precursor has to be that you get the system straight. Who wants to be putting good money into a system that doesn't work? That's my point.
Q: Mr. Leader, how serious are lawmakers about cutting off aid to the Palestinians if they go ahead with the statehood through the U.N.? Some people are arguing that it would actually hurt Israel as well if you cut off the security aid, for example, that has helped with stability in the Palestinian areas?
Mr. Cantor: The House has passed a resolution stating its position. The House position is we do not support and will not support, in the form of any assistance, an entity that involves Hamas and together with the Palestinian Authority, or a move towards seeking a declaration unilaterally of a Palestinian state in the U.N. That has been the position of the House. Now, overall, I think that most of our Members in a bipartisan way support those in the Middle East who support peace and are not for a unilateral creation of a state without any real guarantees of security. I think that all of us are concerned about the impact. But I will not support the extension of any taxpayer dollars that help an entity like Hamas. It is a terrorist organization.
Q: Clearly the President would like Congress to pass the entire bill that he is sending to you and it is entirely not in a piecemeal fashion. Do you think given what you know about the Senate, that overall the whole thing would be beneficial to the economy?
Mr. Cantor: I haven't had a chance to see the bill. There is no bill yet. I want to wait to see the bill. I will tell you that over half of the total dollar amount is so called stimulus spending. We have been there, done that. The country cannot afford more spending like a stimulus bill. It didn't produce the promised results and we can do better. Where we can do better are the items and areas in which I outlined.
Q: Are there any other areas that you're specifically opposed to that the President outlined besides just the stimulus spending? But is there anything else that raised a red flag to you that you think -
Mr. Cantor: The proper attitude right now is trying to approach this by what we can do together, not what we can't.
Q: Mr. Leader, there is an election tomorrow in New York's 9th district where it is traditionally a Democratic seat. The Republicans look like they have a pretty good chance to take that seat. Is there a broader message here you think that can be taken from that race?
Mr. Cantor: I'm not as familiar with the details of that district as I would be mine, but I can say that certainly the attitude and approval rating of the President is having a lot to do with this electorate and the election outcome tomorrow. I'm hopeful we win it. I think it will be an unprecedented win given the demographic makeup of that district. That district is not unlike the rest in the country. People are very unhappy with the economy right now and unhappy with the lack of leadership on the part of this White House and the Administration.
Q: Will any jobs package have to include some of the regulatory rollbacks that the House is planning to pass this fall?
Mr. Cantor: A jobs package should include our steps to untangle the bureaucracy here and remove the barriers for job creation. The President has been very outspoken rhetorically on this point as well and I'm hopeful that he can join us in putting together something that actually works to create middle class jobs.
Q: Leader Cantor, you saw over the last few weeks this Congress has some of the lowest approval ratings since the approval ratings began. Is there anything you can do to address that? Is there anything you can do right now to address that overall popularity of Congress?
Mr. Cantor: Where people are dissatisfied is the fact that this economy is so bad. We are trying to produce results here and that is why we have taken the position to say, let us set aside our differences and try and transcend them and come together. That’s why I have taken issue with this all or nothing demand by the White House and the President. It is just not appropriate now. It won't help us to produce results. We have been there. The rancor in this town over the last six months or so has proven that doesn't necessarily produce the kind of result we want. Let us all try and take a breather, and focus on what we can do together, try and lower the volume of rancor here and see if we can get along.
Q: On the CR next week, will you do it at the level that you agreed to in August, the 1.043?
Mr. Cantor: As Republicans, we believe strongly we ought to be reducing spending more than we have been able to. The other side has demonstrated unwillingness to join us in that. We did reach an agreement at the CR level and I am supportive of a CR being written at that level.
Q: So you would not go below it?
Mr. Cantor: I and I think my colleague here would say we would try always to go below it. But the risk of bringing about brinksmanship or another potential shutdown is not something that we need right now, it is not something that would be helpful, that would create jobs and regain confidence, which is why I have taken the position I have.
Q: Mr. Leader, the CR, I believe, now is going to contain the disaster relief and Congressman Rogers wants to move on that. Does that upset anything?
Mr. Cantor: The President has announced in his request an additional $500 million in disaster relief because of the recent disasters. As you know, the House has already provided for a billion dollars of additional disaster relief and paid for it. I would expect that we will be working to meet the President's request in the CR.
Q: Mr. Cantor, you mentioned the spending aspects in the President's plan. Does that include jobless benefits? I know you talked about this Georgia program, but that doesn't in itself extend the program.
Mr. Cantor: Most people in America are sympathetic to helping those that cannot find a job because unemployment is so high. I also think most people in America think that you can't continue unemployment benefits forever. The President's continued extension of this begs for a response which includes some type of reform of the system to instill some possibility that the beneficiaries of this program can get back to work. I am supportive of reforming the system, making sure that we tie any extension to a program that holds more promise for people to get back to work.
Q: So if there is reform of the system
Mr. Cantor: Go ahead.
Q: On the CR, would the money for the disaster relief fund possibly get there before the New Year starts? Is that money going to be made available in this current year or is that just going to come from 2012 money? It is so late in the year to get that.
Mr. Cantor: We are running out of the fiscal year in two weeks and I don't think there is any evidence now that the people in need of relief are not getting it. That is our continued commitment. Nobody in need of relief is not going to get it. We also believe very much that we can do this and do it in a responsible way.
Q: What about the policy riders on the CR, will it be a straight clean spending bill or will it also include -
Mr. Cantor: In discussions right now, we are looking to come to a resolution on the CR without there having to be another potential shutdown and to make sure we stay focused on resolving the two crises our nation is facing; the federal debt crisis as well as the jobs and economic growth crisis.
Q: On the debt super committee, there has been a lot of pushback from members saying that the defense cuts are unacceptable. What is your position on that? Do you think that they should be on the table?
Mr. Cantor: I have always said that everything in the federal ledger should be on the table to see if we can promote more efficiency. I don't think any of us want to see the sequester and defense cuts at that level take hold because they are disproportionate in terms of what they do to the Pentagon. But there is no way you can defend every dollar and cent being spent at the Pentagon, just like you can't defend it somewhere else. I happen to be, as I'm sure my colleague here is, a national security member of Congress because our priority is to provide for the defense of this country. If we can improve efficiency, I'm all for trying to do more with less, but let’s remember the goal here, especially after what we went through yesterday, we still face a threat and we still have to make sure that we maintain our ability to do so.
Mr. Scott: Everything should be on the table though. I think Leader Cantor is so right, that ultimately when you look at our conference, our goal is to make sure that we have an opportunity to assess all options and in order for us to do that to make sure all spending is on the table and those of us who come from strong defense districts still believe that if we are going to have an opportunity to engage the President, we have to do so with everything on that table, to include our spending.
Q: Mr. Leader, you said there is no appetite right now for the brinksmanship and a possibility of a shutdown among the American people. Do you feel your party may have overplayed its hand in the showdown over the debt ceiling?
Mr. Cantor: No, I don't. We were elected and assumed the Majority with the promise that we were going to change the way Washington does business. Change doesn't come easily, especially when it is this meaningful and this impactful. We have said all along that we are going to stop the broken promises; we are going to be transparent, stop the accounting gimmicks and be truthful. The math doesn't lie. Most people understand that because they live like that in their homes and their businesses and they expect nothing less from us in Washington.
Q: The Super Committee has their second meeting tomorrow. And $4 billion bargaining, going big. Do you think that is possible? Do you support something that is going big?
Mr. Cantor: Again, back to the sense that we ought not be engaging in making promises we can't keep. I'm very much for making sure that there will be success in this Joint Select Committee. I think the risk of failure is something that is unacceptable. We can't accept that.
Q: Mr. Leader, on the CR, will that only contain the $500 million for disaster relief for this current fiscal year or will it include the entire 5.1 billion that the President has requested?
Mr. Cantor: I believe that is the amendment to the budget request going forward for the remainder of the fiscal year. With the CR that takes us through mid to late fall, it gives us an opportunity if we can't get straight on all the monies that we will be able to address that over the next couple of months given where we are with the need.
Q: On the jobs bill, do you imagine would you like to see regular order? Obviously this would be in the jurisdiction of several committees. Is it feasible? Is it a good idea to go through all the committees? Or is it something that is more likely to be handled at a higher level?
Mr. Cantor: The Speaker has always said that we are dedicated to an open process here. Evidenced by where we have been over the last eight to nine months now, we have certainly accomplished that goal much more so than any of the previous Congresses that I have served in. That commitment remains. There hasn't been a decision made because we haven't seen the bill.
Q: Are you confident that when the there is always one more question. On the highways bill, combined with the FAA bill, a lot of problems getting it passed. People jobs were taken away for a while. There was a partial shutdown. There was a lot of discord. Are you confident that you can work things out between now and early next year when these fundings will go out again, that you won't have that kind of a problem in January?
Mr. Cantor: The problem with the highways bill is the trust fund is going broke. Transportation is in serious need and it should be a priority. As I said before, we have some systemic issues to deal with in order to promote a better return on the highway investment and transportation infrastructure investment. I do think that we will have the time to do that. On the FAA bill, we know what the hang ups were there as well, been there done that and setting up this type of scenario going forward will give us enough time to resolve those differences. Thank you.