Cantor: Washington should focus on jobs, not 'pumping up' jobless benefits

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Friday that Washington has spent too much time and money on creating unemployment benefits, and needs to do more to create an environment that fosters job creation.

"For too long in Washington now, we've been worried about pumping up the stimulus monies, pumping up unemployment benefits, and to a certain extent, you've got states in which you can get unemployment for almost two years," he said on CNBC Friday. "And I think those people on unemployment benefits would rather have a job, and so that's where our focus needs to be."

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But Cantor did not shut the door to extending unemployment benefits further. When asked specifically whether he would oppose Democratic arguments to extend those benefits, he argued broadly that any decision to increase spending in one area should be coupled with spending cuts in other areas.

"If we're going to be spending money in Washington, we better start to make choices, and we've got to set priorities," Cantor said. "So if you're going to spend more money, we better cut money somewhere else."

Cantor reiterated Republican plans to help boost employment by cutting government-created obstacles to job creation.

"We've got to take a real look at what we can do in Washington, number one, to remove the regulatory burdens that are in the way of entrepreneurs and investors so that jobs can be created again, and we've got to look at the policies that actually affect small-businesspeople and the middle class," he said.

He also criticized Democrats, including President Obama, who continue to talk about the need for higher taxes.

"Right on the day that he signed the agreement this week, after all we've been through, he begins to advocate for higher taxes and more stimulus spending," Cantor said of Obama. "Now, I would say that sort of, we've been there, done that. So if nothing else, if he doesn't agree, let's at least try something else."

Cantor spoke just after the Department of Labor announced that 117,000 jobs were created in July, and that the unemployment rate fell to 9.1 percent from 9.2 percent.

Soon afterwards, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) reacted to the job numbers by saying it is "truly disappointing" that House Republicans are "intent on doing so little" to help create jobs.

"After more than half a year in the House majority, Republicans have yet to put forward a jobs agenda; instead, they have expended far more energy on holding our economy hostage in order to force through their ideological demands," Hoyer said.

Hoyer encouraged Republicans to support the Democrat "Make It In America" agenda, which aims to boost manufacturing jobs. Hoyer has said Democrats would introduce legislation in the coming weeks aimed at increasing investment in "clean energy" jobs, reducing foreign barriers to U.S. goods, and ensuring federal money is used to buy American-made goods.

Watch Cantor below.

-- This story was updated at 10:09 a.m. to add Hoyer's reaction.