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Cantor Seeks Contrasts in 2012 Agenda, May Endorse

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Republicans will focus tax and budget reform to draw contrasts between the party and President Barack Obama.

BALTIMORE — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor today said Republicans will use a modest agenda focused on tax and budget reform — as well as a potential renewed push to repeal the health care reform law — to draw stark contrasts between themselves and President Barack Obama over the next 10 months.

In an interview at the House GOP’s annual retreat in Baltimore, the Virginia Republican repeatedly hit on the notion that the GOP needs to draw out specific, concrete examples of its differences with Democrats, and will do so despite opposition from Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.).

“My message in the retreat is, ‘We really have to be much better at laying out positions of what we stand for. And that means we have to have messages that reflect that in a very simple way,’” Cantor said.

Much of the discussion at today’s retreat sessions focused on “are you going to continue to lay out specifics, and if so, how much?” Cantor said. “And in a political year, that’s a pretty darn good question.”

“People deserve to see what we stand for. There are things we can do from the House standpoint that sort of set our vision out there,” Cantor said.

The House Majority Leader added that he expects the proposals to meet resistance from Democrats.

“We’re operating under the notion that the White House is not going to cooperate. Nor is Harry Reid’s Senate. So if our assumption is correct on that, they’re going to have to answer on that,” he said.

Aside from a looming payroll tax cut debate, a planned fight over highway and energy policy and the annual spending bills, Cantor said he believes tax reform, regulatory reform and potentially health care will dominate this year’s agenda.

“I’m hopeful that we can see something on tax reform to sort of lay out what we’re for. Again, it goes back to if the president and Harry Reid aren’t going to work with us then we have no option but to go forward and tell the public, ‘This is what we’re for.’”

On health care, Cantor said he believes this year may be ripe for a return to the GOP’s efforts to repeal Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment.

“I could also see us trying to make the case again for the repeal of Obamacare. Most of the people are with us in the country. And you’re going to have the external events of oral arguments in the Supreme Court, you’re going to have at some point the disposition of that case,” he said.

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