By Justin Sink - 02/19/12 03:28 PM EST
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) previewed the upcoming Republican legislative agenda Sunday, saying the GOP would be pushing two measures it believes would spur small business growth.
Cantor said he was "disappointed" by signals from the White House that the payroll tax cut extension was the last piece of legislation the president saw as a high priority in 2012, and believed a "window of opportunity" existed to further aid jobs growth.
"We need to address the regulatory burden that small businesses are facing so we can see them start up again," Cantor said on "Fox News Sunday."
"This package represents the first opportunity for us post the payroll tax cut extension to work together in a bipartisan matter and get something done," he added.
But in what is likely to be the far more controversial of the proposals, Cantor also proposed a 20 percent tax cut for small businesses.
"We'll be bringing forward a bill that brings a 20 percent tax cut for small businesses knowing full well that small businesses create 60 percent of the lobs in this country," Cantor said.
But some Democrats have argued that plan could simply provide a huge tax cut for wealthy businessmen without doing anything to guarantee the money would go to creating job growth. Cantor dismissed that argument, saying that all Americans were "in this together."
"That suggestion is somehow that I shouldn't be going home to my district in Richmond, Va. telling a small businessperson that I can't help by providing a tax cut for them so they can grow their business and hire more people just because someone else might benefit. At the end of the day we are all in this together," Cantor said.
Cantor also dismissed recent polls that showed Americans overwhelmingly supported raising taxes on millionaires to bridge the budget deficit - and felt that Medicare should not be touched.
"Underneath that question is somehow we don't care about people who are out there working paycheck to paycheck trying to make it and somehow it's unfair. What I would say is it is unfair that these individuals who want a better life, who want more pay aren't getting it," Cantor said, arguing Republican policies created more equal economic opportunity.
Cantor was also asked about Republicans signing off on the payroll tax extension, despite not getting the spending cuts they were holding out for.
"What we would have liked to have seen is it done in a way that we could actually reduce spending while at the same time affording this tax relief…every time we tried to advance that, [Sen. Majority Leader] Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the president just wanted to play politics with it," Cantor said.
Ultimately, Cantor said, Republicans were unwilling to let taxes go up.
"I don't think it's a good idea to allow taxes to go up on working people. Basically a payroll tax says we're going to increase taxes on everyone who has a job. I don't think that's what we need to do," Cantor said.
In other comments, Cantor dismissed the president's budget as "not serious" and pledged the House would "do everything we can to restore religious freedom" after the president's recent ruling requiring healthcare insurers to provide free contraceptive coverage.
Cantor also responded to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) characterization of him and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as "demons" during a speech to California Democrats.
"Those kinds of words are obviously not very helpful," Cantor said. "That's evidence again that any time we try to put forward pro-growth measures or measures to get the budget under control, that's what happens. Individuals on the other side take off in a personal attack that has nothing to do with the debate.