Entitlement reform will be tough as long as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) runs the Senate, the second-ranking House Republican said Wednesday.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) chided Reid, who's increasingly a target of the House GOP's barbs, for having said that Social Security is not facing a financial crisis.
"I think one of the problems is that you have Leader Reid in the Senate, who said there aren't any fiscal problems with Social Security," the No. 2 House Republican said on MSNBC.
In his State of the Union address President Obama called for lawmakers to "find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations." But he said reforms must come without benefit cuts or allowing partial privatization of that program.
"I sort of did not like that aspect of the president's remarks, because I think everything should be on the table, as far as entitlements are concerned," Cantor said.
Republicans have said they're willing to examine all options for entitlement programs — including Social Security — as part of their effort to address the deficit. Cantor said that the GOP is committed to leaving the retiree benefits unchanged for Americans older than 55, but he and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have spoken of the need for an "adult conversation" with the public.
Reid has said that the problem in Social Security is overstated.
"This is something that’s perpetuated by people who don’t like government. Social Security is fine," he said earlier this month on NBC. "Are there things we can do to improve social security? Of course, I’m not going to go to backdoor methods to whack social security. I’m not going to do that, we have a lot of things we can do with this debt. But one places I’m not going to be part of picking on is Social Security”
Cantor's criticism of Reid on Wednesday comes after the two sparred publicly about healthcare reform. The Republican leader had sought to pressure the Senate to vote on legislation to repeal healthcare reform, and accused the Senate of becoming a "cul-de-sac" for legislation. Reid's office has said it wouldn't allow a vote on the measure.