Cantor: Cut entitlements

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) called on Democratic leaders to join Republicans in making cuts to entitlement programs and federal agencies.

“It’s high time that we see from [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-Nev.] and this president, their plans. There’s so much talk around here of the alleged draconian cuts that [Republicans] are presenting. Well, where is their [Democrats'] plan? Where is the demonstration that they are willing to make the tough decisions?” Cantor said on Monday afternoon.

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Cantor said that House Republicans will tackle entitlement reform when they release their budget blueprint at the end of March or in early April.

“You are going to see some very bold reforms included. I’m hopeful that we can get cooperation from Harry Reid and the president” to tackle the massive entitlement programs, which represent nearly two-thirds of annual government spending, Cantor said.

He added that Republicans “can’t do it alone,” referring to reforming the mandatory spending programs.

Earlier Monday, President Obama sent his $3.7 trillion government budget blueprint to Capitol Hill. Cantor said that Obama’s budget did not go far enough to include the cuts to spending – mandatory and discretionary – needed to rein in the federal debt and deficit. The proposed Obama budget cuts $1.1 trillion over 10 years.

Obama "certainly talks the talk — I think his State of the Union was an occasion to the challenges facing our country. I feel that his budget document here just misses the mark in terms of living up to the expectations that he laid out,” Cantor explained.

The No. 2 House Republican, who had lunch with the president last week, explained that Obama refuses to touch the expensive Medicare and Social Security programs.

By contrast, the Virginia lawmaker defended the leadership-backed funding measure set for action on the House floor this week.

The continuing resolution, which will fund the government through 2011, would cut $100 billion from government spending and will be open to amendments on the floor.

Cantor could not say how many amendments were expected to hit the floor, but he called the process “an open one.”

He predicted that the House will approve the final measure — likely on Thursday — with “overwhelming support” from his fellow Republicans and possibly Democrats as well.