On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace said to Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who is expected to become the House majority leader when the new Congress is seated, that taxes would be “the big issue in the lame duck session,” and asked whether Cantor would support a plan to make tax cuts for the middle class permanent in exchange for a two- or three-year extension of cuts for the wealthy.
Cantor said no. “First of all, Chris, let's set the record straight,” he said. “No one's getting a tax cut here. One of two things is going to happen January 1. That is your rates are either going to—either going to go up or they're going to stay the same. So this notion that somehow we are passing tax cuts is just not true.” After this characterization of temporary tax cuts passed during the Bush administration, he moved on to the question of whether he would support lower taxes for one group in exchange for temporarily lower taxes for the other.
“And so, no, I am not for decoupling the rates,” he said, “because all that says to people looking to go back in and put capital to work and invest to create jobs is, ‘You're going to get taxed on any return that you can expect.’ I am not for raising taxes in a recession, especially when it comes to job creators that we need so desperately to start creating jobs again.”
Asked by Wallace again whether he might support a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts for all, Cantor basically said no. Wallace tried a third time, and even a fourth: “Are you saying that if—it's either permanent extension of all the Bush tax cuts or nothing? . . . I’m trying to get a specific answer.”
Cantor replied that the money “is going to be spent one way or the other, and then finally said that Washington “doesn’t need more revenues right now . . . We need to lift the veil of uncertainty.”
Moving on, Wallace asked Cantor about Republican plans for cutting $100 billion from non-defense discretionary spending, which he said would amount to a 22% cut in those programs, although non-defense discretionary spending “is only 16% of the total federal budget . . . Do you really think that’s possible?” Cantor’s response was that the Congress would have to be re-oriented “back towards a cost-cutting and a job-creating Congress.”
From there the discussion turned to earmarks—Wallace asked why not end them permanently, and Cantor’s reply did not really answer his question—and raising the debt ceiling. “Republicans are apparently planning to demand even further spending cuts from the president in return for raising the debt ceiling,” Wallace said. “If he refuses, does that mean that you're willing to let this country go into default?”
Cantor replied that the new Congress would have at least three to four months to prove that it could cut costs, and if it came to that, it would be the president’s fault, not that of the Congress.