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Posted at 9:20 PM ET, 02/24/2011

Eric Cantor at Harvard: America 'at a crossroads' on spending

By Felicia Sonmez

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) outlined Republicans' economic vision on Thursday evening, saying in a speech at Harvard University that Washington must reduce the role of government in order to preserve America's role as the "crucible of innovation."

Speaking at the Kennedy School of Government before an audience of graduate and undergraduate students, Cantor drew a contrast between the United States and European countries through comparing last year's protests against pension cuts in France and Greece to the message American voters delivered in November's midterm election.

"Not long ago, in streets of both Greece and France, we saw young people protesting against the government's decision to rein in retirement benefits -- even though they were years away from receiving them," Cantor said. "Translation: Very early in their lives, these individuals were conditioned to rely and depend on the government for their livelihood, for their future."

In America, Cantor continued, "people from a wide array of political backgrounds took to town halls to demand an end to the explosive growth of government. Their desire: for our government to do less, not more. The contrast was astonishing and the message clear: On one side of the Atlantic people expected a government-funded future, while on the other they wanted it to stop."

Cantor said that the key to American innovation lies in the success of the private sector, pointing to Republicans' emphasis on cutting spending, reducing federal regulations, replacing the national health care law and reforming the tax code. Those efforts, Cantor said, will "make it easier for intellectual capital and innovation to flourish again."

"We have a choice to make today about the future of our country," Cantor said. "In order to protect our way of life, the choice we must make is about changing course, and renewing our commitment to what makes America unique: innovation, creative thinking, problem-solving, entrepreneurship, individual liberty and economic freedom. Our renewed focus must be driven by the sense that we have a limitless future in America and every one of us has a fair shot at earning success."

According to local news reports, several hundred protesters gathered outside the event to speak out against spending cuts included in the government-funding resolution passed by the House late last week. Earlier Thursday, two separate groups of students had indicated that they planned to protest Cantor's appearance.

During the question-and-answer session, Cantor fielded tough questions on House Republicans' proposed budget cuts. At one point, several protesters holding signs reading "Fully Fund Global Health" interrupted the event, according to a report by the Reuters news service; they chanted "Budget Cuts Kill!" as they were escorted from the hall.

Asked about President Obama's recent announcement that he was ordering the Justice Department to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, Cantor said that he was "a little taken aback" by the decision and that lawmakers are considering their options but declined to go into detail.

"There are some options available to us legislatively that we're looking at," Cantor said, according to the Associated Press.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee responded to Cantor's speech Thursday night by challenging his credibility on fiscal responsibility.

"While everyone recognizes the need to cut spending and lower the deficit, listening to a lecture on cutting spending from someone like Republican Leader Eric Cantor is only a reminder that he spent taxpayer money like a drunken sailor during the Bush years and is happy to keep spending it as long as it goes to his corporate special interest buddies," DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said. "Republican Leader Eric Cantor is leading reckless choices that protect taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil companies making record profits at the expense of our cops, teachers, and homeless veterans."

By Felicia Sonmez  | February 24, 2011; 9:20 PM ET
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Next: House-Senate federal shutdown standoff approaches, as GOP plans spending cuts


What is better than a baker's dozen of paragraphs on Eric Cantor?

A dozen.

Posted by: FoundingMother | February 24, 2011 10:11 PM | Report abuse

All of our economic rivals subsidize their research and development. We don't. Now the Dixiecrats want to starve the mule until he dies.
Cantor remained unusually quiet while Rush trashed Jews and being the only Jewish Dixiecrat Republican out of 37 Jewish members of Congress you'd think he'd have something to say.

Posted by: roscym1 | February 25, 2011 7:17 AM | Report abuse

Cantor is a horse's behind. His ego preceeds him by 50 miles, while his brain lags 100 miles behind.

Posted by: Jayne | February 25, 2011 7:53 AM | Report abuse

I keep hearing about spending cuts,federal workers pay freeze,make them pay more for their pensions,cut programs for the needy,but I have not heard one word coming out of their mouths about paying more for their pensions,or reducing their over paid salaries. I do not see the need to have as many representatives as we do in congress,reducing the size of the house of representatives would make a smaller government & save millions in salaries & big pension payments,I also believe the state could also cut some waste from their state governments too.

Posted by: jrs6776 | February 25, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I have not heard one person anywhere describe Eric Cantor as a smart cookie!

Posted by: jrs6776 | February 25, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Cantor who? Oh, yes, the wingnut idiot
from Virginia!

Posted by: Sirius2 | February 25, 2011 9:53 AM | Report abuse

It is worth noting that Cantor's in his assertion that "people from a wide array of political backgrounds took to town halls to demand an end to the explosive growth of government. Their desire: for our government to do less, not more." The wide array of the Tea Party is just GOP adherents from the far right to the farthest right wing of the party. The Tea Party is the GOP base, not some 'new, erergent group".

"Cantor continued, "people from a wide array of political backgrounds took to to

Posted by: grooft | February 25, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Did Cantor mention how those European countries have a public option health care system and why it is not considered socialism? Did he also fail to mention that we out sourced jobs in this country and his party sat back and did not say any thing during that process? Did he give an account for the two wars that we were misguided into by the Republicans and how much that these wars cost us on a daily basis. Finally, did he open his mouth about the banks and the toxic loans and that there was no one from his party that wanted to work with this President to initiate legislation to prevent this from happening again?

Posted by: SBRUCE8 | February 25, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Without addressing defense and entitlements, Cantor and his ilk cannot claim to be serious about reining in spending.

Posted by: krickey7 | February 25, 2011 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I'm a student at Harvard College and attended the event with Rep. Cantor last night. I am also a proud Democrat and, needless to say, I had a few issues with what Cantor said. I live-blogged my responses to Cantor's speech for the Harvard Political Review, check it out here:

Posted by: smthompson | February 25, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Cantor is made of sleaze & lies.

Posted by: Nymous | February 25, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Our economy has been in a terrible state for the last 8 years. I am waiting for a conservative to explain to me why it wasn't dealt with (and screamed about) during the Bush administration???? You don't need a degree in economics (and I have one) to know that you can't run a war and cut taxes at the same time. I would actually believe republicans care about the economy if they weren't cutting programs dear to Democrats hearts first. If cuts need to be made then let EVERYONE feel the pain.

Posted by: BullyLover | February 25, 2011 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Jesus H Christ; something got lost in translation while the message tried to seep through your thick skull there Cantor.

The message is we pay into this system and we should be afforded the same benefits as those before us; not asked to sacrifice to pay for outrageous millionaire tax cuts and unfunded wars of choice.

I think he just can't comprehend long term thinking. he's only capable of seeing what's six inches in front of his face......which just happens to be twin Kochs dangling in front of him!!

Posted by: theobserver4 | February 25, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: dhenken1 | February 25, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

What ever happened to "jobs, jobs, jobs, ???? Then there's the morality play about marriage, then there's the "panic" over union negotiation, then there's "spending cuts", then there's "tax relief for those making in excess of $250K", etc., etc., etc. .
SO, I repeat, "What ever happened to Jobs, jobs, jobs, ....?????

Posted by: American68 | February 25, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

What ever happened to "jobs, jobs, jobs, ???? Then there's the morality play about marriage, then there's the "panic" over union negotiation, then there's "spending cuts", then there's "tax relief for those making in excess of $250K", etc., etc., etc. .
SO, I repeat, "What ever happened to Jobs, jobs, jobs, ....?????

Posted by: American68 | February 25, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Tax breaks for the rich, screw the poor, trash the recovery, stop educating the young (unless we send them to Republican madrassas), let the infrastructure rot, hide financial crimes by Wall Street, ... This is the America that Cantor thinks will be great? Great for whom?

Posted by: frodot | February 25, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

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