Cantor on support for new taxes: 'I just disagree'

Cantor said it makes no sense to raise taxes with unemployment as high as it is, and said increasing taxes would hurt job creation and do little to create jobs, as Democrats claim.

"We don't believe that you promote growth in the economy by cranking up the government spending machine by taking money from people who earn it, washing it through Washington's bureaucracy, and sending it back out," he said. "We believe that growth is created through investment, through hard work in the private sector."

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Hoyer objected to Cantor's characterization of the Democratic position and said Democrats are not talking about raising taxes on struggling Americans.

"We're asking for those who have done extraordinarily well over the last decade, who have made millions per year over the last decade, some billions of dollars over the last decade, oil companies who are now making biggest profits they've ever made, and others to pay a little more so that we can stabilize the finances of America," Hoyer said. He later added higher taxes should be imposed "not to penalize them, but to say we're all in this together."

Cantor said on the floor that the House on Tuesday would begin a debate on the Republican "Cut, Cap and Balance" legislation. Republicans are putting forward this bill as a way to press for a debt-ceiling agreement that only allows for an increase in that ceiling if there are spending cuts in the short term, spending caps be put in place in the medium term, and Congress passes a balanced budget amendment.

Hoyer asked Cantor several times on Friday whether all of these conditions can be met given that Congress is now less than three weeks away from August 2, when the government could default on its debt. Hoyer said a deal on spending caps and passage of a balanced budget amendment in particular seem difficult to accomplish in just a few weeks and asked whether Republicans had some other plan for getting a debt ceiling agreement done.

Cantor declined to answer specifically but did say it's "imperative" not only to ensure the debt limit is not breached, but also to put in place meaningful solutions to the fiscal crisis.

In a nod to Democrats, Cantor also repeated that he does not want to risk hitting the debt limit.

"I don't want to pass Aug. 2 without increasing the debt ceiling," Cantor said. "I, as well as the gentleman, understand that there is a lot of uncertainty if that were to happen, a lot of risk associated with that, risk that I'm not willing to take."

Cantor told Hoyer a copy of the Cut, Cap and Balance legislation would be made available sometime Friday night in order to comply with the GOP rule requiring that at least three calendar days pass between when a bill is made public and when it is debated on the floor.