Interview with Rep. Eric Cantor

Interview with Rep. Eric Cantor

By CNN - November 2, 2010

BLITZER: It's an interesting phenomenon on what's going on. All right, John, stand by.

We're going to come back I want to check out some of those -- some more of those House races.

Let's take a look at what's happening in Pennsylvania right now. It's very, very close. 84 percent of the votes have been counted in Pennsylvania. Pat Toomey, the Republican, with 50.5 percent; Joe Sestak, the Democrat, 49.5 percent. It's a difference of 36,402 votes. They've still got 16 percent of the vote to count in Pennsylvania, but this is really, really close.

Pat Toomey slightly ahead; Joe Sestak, the incumbent Congressman, a retired U.S. Navy. Admiral Pat Toomey a former Congressman. But we'll see what happens when they finished counting all the votes. I suspect we might have to wait for this one to be resolved the old- fashioned way by the actual votes being counted. We'll see that.

Eric Cantor is one of the top leaders in the Republican side in the House of Representatives. He is joining us now, let's get some reaction from him.

Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), MINORITY WHIP: Wolf, good to be with you.

BLITZER: Well, what's your immediate reaction? You've won some, you've lost some, but you're going to be in the Majority in the House of Representatives. We now project at CNN project you will have at least a 52-seat net gain. You needed 39, so that's considerably more than you needed, but what is -- what is your estimate right now? How many seats will you have as a net gain in the next Congress? CANTOR: Wolf, I've learned not to go into the crystal ball business. But I'm very excited, as are most in our Republican Conference, to be given this second chance.

We've got a golden opportunity as Republicans to set the record straight, to actually say we're going to listen to the people, which is what the vote tonight is about.

The American people felt they've been ignored, they looked at the policies of the last 20 months, the policies being put in place by the Obama administration and said enough. We want a check on that. We want to get back to focusing on cutting spending and to -- to put a priority on getting people back to work. And that's what we're going to be about.

BLITZER: Your problem -- you're definitely going to have the Majority in the House of Representatives, but the Senate is increasingly looking more problematic for a Republican majority.

Here is the question. How are you going to get anything done with a split in the House and the Senate and with the President of the United States having veto power as -- as -- as the leader of the executive branch of the U.S. government?

CANTOR: You know, this is not a game here in Washington. This is about being a government that's responsive to the people. And what people have said tonight is they want their government focused on job creation. They also understand we can't keep afford -- we can't keep spending money we don't have.

So the mandate tonight, Wolf, is really about rejecting the policies of the other side, because they haven't worked. The American people want results. They want us to get back to work and they actually say, you know what? We do want the opportunity to succeed again. And I think the American people are willing to take responsibility if they have that chance again.

And -- and I'm hopeful that the president is going to reassess and -- and come and meet us in terms of an agenda that we can limit the scope of government, focus on small businesses, because they're the ones that we need to create jobs.

BLITZER: Well, give us an example of a major program, we're talking about billions and billions of dollars that you would immediately cut if you had the power.

CANTOR: Well, again, we have as Republicans, posited an approach to say we start by saying bring spending back down to '08 levels. You know what? You think about it, Wolf, it wasn't that long ago, the sun rose and set in 2008, and we've got to begin to take those kinds of steps, put the federal government on a diet and reflect on the fact that's what most people in America have been doing over the last couple years. It's time for government to live within its means.

So we've got that approach first, which will save $100 billion in the first year alone and can get us almost to $1 trillion in the budget window, and that's the kind of spirit I think you're going to see the new Republican conference be about. This is not to be --

BLITZER: But can you give us a specific program, Congressman, that you would immediately cut? Some Tea Party activists say eliminate the Department of Education. Eliminate the Department of Energy. You'll save billions of dollars. What program would you cut to save a significant sum, amount of money?

CANTOR: First of all, $100 billion in the first year alone is pretty significant if you go back to the discretionary levels of '08. But listen, we as Republicans have put on the floor all kinds of proposals through our YouCut program that I think you're going to see replicated over the first several weeks and months of this Congress.

I mean we take, for instance, now the expanded welfare program that was put in place on the stimulus bill. This was a program that will save over $1 billion right up front, and this is a program that is welfare without the work requirement. It has gone back on the incentives that were put in place back during the Clinton years that we actually reform well and saw some success.

You know, we've got other programs in the YouCut program that make a lot of sense. You know, we look at trying to make sure that we accomplish some savings through revamping the GSEs. This is the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac situation where you know that the taxpayers are on the hook for tens of billions, if not hundreds of billions of dollars.

So we've got some proposals out there. We have posited them, we've already voted on them. And these are the kind of things that I think you're going to see a Republican majority bring forward right away so we can get this economy going again and rein in the very unfriendly regulatory environment that the Obama administration has put into place and has stifled business hiring.

BLITZER: You're going to be in the majority now. You're going to have more responsibility, Congressman Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia. We'll be in close touch with you as well. Thanks very much for coming in.

CANTOR: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Eric Cantor of Virginia.


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