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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia called on fellow Republicans to move past a focus on economic and debt issues and urged them to broaden the party’s focus in order to connect with the American public.
The Tuesday afternoon speech at the American Enterprise Institute follows comments from other high-profile GOP politicians, perhaps most notably Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, that the party needs to change its tone if it hopes to win elections in coming years.
“I’d like to focus our attention on what lies beyond these fiscal debates,” Cantor said. “Over the next two years, the House majority will pursue an agenda based on a shared vision of creating the conditions for health, happiness and prosperity for more Americans and their families. And to restrain Washington from interfering in those pursuits.”
With a few citizen-guests in tow, Cantor highlighted priorities for Republicans in dealing with education, immigration, workplace law, tax changes and health care.
Many of the ideas are not new ones, but Cantor sought to use the high-profile forum of an AEI address to bring them to the fore.
In particular, Cantor highlighted the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, a priority for Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, which funds charter schools in Washington, D.C., and said that college education should be more affordable.
He also singled out a bill passed by the House last year that would have opened up more visas to high-skilled workers but which did not come to the Senate floor because Democrats objected to limiting the visa lottery.
Cantor said it is imperative Americans keep highly skilled students it graduates.
“Rather than being able to invent things here in America, grow businesses or start one on their own, they do all of those things somewhere else,” he said.
Cantor continued that House Republicans should try to repeal the medical device tax included in the health care overhaul and make changes to Medicare and Medicaid.
Finally, he called for tax changes, which he said is already underway at the hands of Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich.
“Loopholes and gimmicks benefitting those who’ve come to know how to work the system in Washington, are no more defensible than the path of wasteful and irresponsible spending we’ve been on for decades,” he said. “Working families should come first. Everyone agrees a fairer, simpler tax code would give us all more time.”