Updated: 7:05 p.m.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called for sweeping tax reform and a rollback of Obama administration regulations of the business sector during a speech on the economy Monday.
The Virginia Republican, speaking at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, said the corporate tax rate should be lowered. He called for tax incentives for multinational corporations, the passage of several pending trade agreements and an end to onerous government regulations that he called “sedatives rather than stimulants to new job growth.”
“We’ve got to shift from having a government that smothers new jobs and business growth to one that nurtures an environment for getting people back to work and back to what Americans do best: innovate, compete and lead,” Cantor said, according to prepared remarks.
The Republican expressed appreciation for tea party activists who “helped light a fire under our agenda,” and he reminded listeners of his “cut and grow” policy for spurring economic growth. The slogan has been a mainstay for Cantor, whose speech mostly stuck to popular GOP themes of limited government and a stronger focus on the private sector.
But he also mentioned patent reform and at one point suggested that the nation’s “antiquated laws” on immigration should be reviewed.
“Our visa system has failed to keep pace with the demands of our economy,” Cantor said, noting he is the grandson of immigrants. “If bringing in high-skilled workers from abroad helps us keep thousands of jobs here in America, our antiquated laws should not be a barrier.”
Cantor’s speech came as House Republicans are refocusing their messaging on jobs. Members were advised to tie the party’s budget-cutting agenda to job growth while they are back home meeting with constituents this week during recess.
Democrats on both sides of the Capitol have accused their GOP colleagues of not pursuing job-creating legislation. “House Republicans must be realizing they have some catching-up to do on the jobs issue,” Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said in a statement Monday.
“It will take more than a speech to fix an agenda that has so far forgotten about small businesses,” Schumer added. “Since taking over the House, Republicans have been too busy jamming a far-right social agenda onto the federal budget to bring up a single jobs bill for a vote in the House.”
Meanwhile, the White House asked entrepreneurs on Monday what processes and regulations should be changed to foster innovation. Administration officials will hold a series of discussions this month in cities nationwide, as well as an online panel Wednesday with National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills, to hear entrepreneurs’ ideas.