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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Tuesday dismissed the notion of pursuing a short-term increase to the debt limit, saying he sees no utility in delaying deep cuts to spending that will be needed for a long-term deal.
“I don’t see how multiple votes on a debt limit increase can help us get to where we want to go,” the Virginia Republican told reporters Tuesday.
Cantor’s comments come after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated in a Sunday interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he would be open to moving “a very short-term” bill if it would provide enough time for negotiators to complete a long-term deal. The White House has said the United States will have exhausted its borrowing capacity by Aug. 2 and so a new debt ceiling must be enacted by then.
But Cantor on Tuesday essentially ruled out the idea of buying time to meet the August deadline. “I’m not sure how if we’re not willing to make tough decisions now, we’ll be willing to later,” he said.
Cantor along with Vice President Joseph Biden and other lawmakers resumed their bipartisan negotiations Tuesday to raise the debt ceiling and have entered the most difficult phase of the talks.
“It’s crunch time in these meetings. ... We have hit the point where we’re at some really tough stuff,” he said, indicating that sometime soon negotiations will need to involve President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to finalize things.
“When the president decides he wants to go in and seal the deal with the Speaker, we’ll be ready for that,” he said.
Cantor also discounted the possibility of including the elimination of tax loopholes and subsidies in a final agreement on the debt limit as little more than politics.
He argued that targeting subsidies for the oil and gas industry and other corporations for elimination won’t generate enough revenue to help solve the nation’s debt crisis. As a result, “you have to sort of wonder, ‘Is this about policy and substance or politics?’” Cantor said.
He insisted that when Congress does take up the issue of tax subsidies and loopholes, it must come as part of a broader reform to the tax code. “These kind of discussions ... have to be conducted in the context of lowering rates” for corporations and individuals, he said.