Cantor Plays Key Role in Deficit Talks
Policy + Politics

Cantor Plays Key Role in Deficit Talks

The negotiating tactics of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor would probably make him lousy at selling cars. But as Congress and the president try to strike a deal on the national debt, they have made Cantor a hero to ardent anti-spending conservatives.

Cantor (R-Va.) thinks the way to win this haggling session — one of Washington’s most important in years — is by walking out of it.

Last month, Cantor walked out of talks led by Vice President Biden. Cantor said the reason was Democrats’ insistence on raising taxes as part of a deal to increase the national debt ceiling.

Then, last week, Cantor urged House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to reject a possible “grand bargain” with President Obama, which could have included tax increases. Boehner pulled Republicans out of those talks.

Now, as Cantor joins other leaders at the White House for near-daily summits in the third grouping of negotiators, his moves have revealed him as a third major player in a legislative drama that had been dominated by Obama and Boehner. Where Boehner has sought to define what Republicans can do with their newfound power, Cantor, the House’s ambitious No. 2, wants to underline what Republicans would never do.

This is the first major test of that leadership style. Traditionally, congressional factions have made big deals by making big concessions to their opponents. Cantor seems to be willing to forgo the biggest of deals if it means conceding on any of his party’s key demands.

“I think behind this notion of ‘We want shared sacrifice’ that they continue to say means ‘We want to raise taxes,’ ” Cantor told reporters, rejecting a suggestion from Obama that both parties would have to make sacrifices to get a deal done. “And we don’t accept that you raise taxes in an economy like this.”

Read more at The Washington Post.