Rep. Cantor 'cannot fathom' support for tax increases after bleak jobs report

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Friday's jobs report is a strong argument against raising taxes as part of an agreement to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending.

" 'Disappointing' is an understatement," Cantor said on the floor in a colloquy with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Cantor was citing the jobs report for June that said only 18,000 private-sector jobs were created in that month, and that the unemployment rate increased to 9.2 percent.

"Just look at the jobs report today," Cantor added. "I cannot fathom how anybody, how anyone thinks right now is a good time to raise taxes. Who thinks that raising taxes on individuals and small businesses can help create jobs?"

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Cantor reminded Hoyer of Thursday's White House meeting in which he stressed that Congress should not "raise taxes on the American people and the small businesses that we need so desperately to begin to create jobs again."

The lengthy colloquy was punctuated by a tense back-and-forth that, much like the ongoing talks over how to resolve the debt-ceiling crisis, revolved around whether new revenues or spending cuts should be the focus. Hoyer focused his comments on the need for increased revenues.

"Very frankly, I think we ought to pay for what we buy," he said. "We call that taxes. If we want to buy it, we ought to pay for it."

Cantor responded by saying that while he agrees the government should pay for what it buys, it can also buy less in an effort to reduce the deficit. "We ought to just be buying less as a government, because the money doesn't belong to the government, it belongs to the people," he said.

Cantor added that this was the "fundamental disagreement" that plagued the debt-ceiling talks over the last few weeks.

"Your side insisted that we raise taxes," he said. "And I would say to the gentleman, raising taxes is, as he put it, paying for what we buy. And I'm saying, let's stop buying so much."

Cantor and Hoyer also bickered over the job-creating performance under the Obama administration and past presidents. Cantor argued that the Democratic stimulus bill has failed to create jobs, and that there are fewer jobs now than there were at the outset of the Obama administration.

Hoyer countered that the stimulus has created jobs, but not as many as it should, and that job loss early in Obama's term was the result of failed Bush administration policies.

Hoyer at several points criticized past Republican failures to lower the deficit, and charged that the House Republican budget plan would take more than two decades to balance the budget.

"I'm the first to say that we came to this majority with some contrition, that no, we weren't always acting in the best interest of the fiscal health of this country," Cantor replied. He said that is why Republicans now are trying to act responsibly by proposing ways to lower the deficit, something he pointedly said that Democrats have failed to do so far.

Cantor and Hoyer are part of the negotiating group that will meet Sunday at the White House in order to see if progress can be made on a massive deal to trim federal spending. Negotiators are thought to be considering slower increases in Social Security and Medicare payments, but also some tax increases.