House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second most powerful Republican in Congress, said he was “looking forward” to the debt ceiling talks President Barack Obama is hosting at the White House today. Echoing sentiments that the President expressed in his remarks on Tuesday, Cantor told assembled members of the press that these talks will build on the progress already made in talks with Vice President Biden.
“I’m looking forward to going to the White House today in what I believe is the beginning of the final stage of discussions to resolve the issue of the debt ceiling,” Cantor said. “There is no question that when we left the Biden discussions, there was a blueprint on the table where there could be over $2 trillion dollars in savings, consistent with what the Speaker’s mandate is, which is we are going to insist if we are going to vote for the debt ceiling increase, to make sure that the cuts we achieve exceed the amount of the debt ceiling increase.”
According to a blog for The Hill, Cantor said the Republicans are open to closing tax loopholes in the talks.
“‘If the president wants to talk loopholes, we’ll talk loopholes,’ Cantor said, with one caveat: Any revenue gained from ending a tax break should be used to lower other taxes,” the blog read. “While Cantor’s move left clear ground between the two sides, it also provided a possible opening for tax cuts supported by both parties to be included in a final package.”
Cantor’s official blog said that accusations from the President and other Democrats that the Biden debt talks fell apart over tax loopholes are false.
“I had said all along to the Vice President and others that, first of all, we don’t support tax increases, especially in such an ailing economy; and number two, there are no votes for tax increases in the House. And then to hear the President come forward and indicate that somehow that those talks stopped or blew up over loopholes is just not the case,” Cantor’s blog read.
“We’ve said all along that preferences in the code aren’t something that helps economic growth overall. But, listen, we are not for any proposal that increases taxes, and any type of discussion should be coupled with offsetting tax cuts somewhere else.”
UPDATE: After the debt talks, the President made a brief statement before White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s press briefing. POLITICO reports:
People were frank, we discussed the various options available to us,” (Obama) says. The decision that was made, Obama says, is that they’ll be “working during the weekend” and that “I will reconvene congressional leaders here on Sunday with the expectation that at that point, the parties will at least know where each other’s bottom lines are.”