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Can Cantor Reach Boehner’s Debt Deal Goal?

Tom Williams/Roll Call

For instance, Cantor has repeatedly insisted that he is pushing for the GOP budget outlined by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) earlier this year. At the same time he has warned Republicans that Democrats and the White House are unlikely to accept Ryan’s Medicare reform proposals and has emphasized the need to find “areas of commonality” with Democrats.

But with Boehner setting the goal so far to the right, Cantor’s job will be more complicated, since conservatives will see anything short of Boehner’s demands as less than successful.

As might have been expected, Boehner’s hard-nosed speech hit a chord with conservatives, and Republicans on Tuesday were quick to line up behind him.

“I think he laid out some parameters that almost all of us could agree on,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) praised Boehner’s approach. “I think most Americans can relate to what John is saying. …The idea of if you are going to raise the debt limit, cut the government by an equivalent amount I think will make sense to a lot of Americans, but to get to that number, you’ve got to do entitlement reform.”

Even Cantor was publicly endorsing Boehner’s statements.

“What his message is, I think, what most Americans believe: that if we’re going to seek an increase in the credit limit of the country, that this country’s got to be worthy of that, which means we’ve got to get the fiscal house in order,” Cantor said.

Predictably, Democrats were hammering Boehner’s proposal.

“We shouldn’t be drawing lines in the sand,” Reid said when asked about Boehner’s demand that tax increases not be included in any deficit package. “I think it’s unfair, I think it’s really unfair. I think the American people realize that.”

The Nevadan said polls showed that more than 70 percent support eliminating tax breaks for oil companies.

Reid also said that Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad’s (D-N.D.) budget blueprint will include a 50-50 split on deficit reduction between taxes and spending.

Reid said that reducing the deficit by trillions of dollars is possible. But, “it has to be a fair approach toward balancing the budget,” he said.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, will be heading to the White House on Wednesday to talk about the budget, while Senate Republicans will head there Thursday. Reid said that he requested the meeting and it had been planned for last week but was delayed.

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report

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