While unemployment has dropped since President Barack Obama entered office in 2009, the current rate still hovers at 9.1 percent, or almost 14 million people, and the economic growth has stalled in many parts of the country. Many US citizens now fear another recession is on the horizon. On September 8 date, Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the House Majority Leader, joined Washington journalists at the Monitor Breakfast prior to President Obama’s jobs speech to discuss how both sides of the aisle need to focus on economic growth and not partisan politics.
Cantor, who served as House Minority Whip from 2009 to 2011, knows that the American people don’t expect Democrats and Republicans to agree on every issue. . But he said, “the lack of results is the reason why Congress has taken on such a bad light in terms of the public’s view.”
Earlier this summer, when Congress was locked in a rancorous debate about how, or even if to raise the debt ceiling, American opinion of Washington leadership sank to its lowest levels in history. According to an Associated Press-GfK poll conducted August 18 through 22, approval ratings for Congress dropped to 12 percent, down from 21 percent in June just before the heated debates on the debt crisis.
When Cantor was asked about his gentler, more conciliatory tone toward Democrats during his opening remarks at the breakfast, he said the American people expect Congress to transcend differences given the realities on the ground. “People are fearful. They don’t know where they’re going in terms of their economic security. It’s incumbent upon us as representatives of the people to respond to the will of the people. The stakes are high.”
Cantor also hoped that the White House would work positively with Congress. “The disagreements that we’ve had are policy based and there are a lot of philosophical differences, but I’m hoping that we can find agreement in some areas and create a blueprint for success.”
In addition to speaking on the current state of Washington politics, Cantor briefly touched on the Republican presidential debate early in the week, specifically on Texas Governor Rick Perry’s remarks that Social Security was “a Ponzi scheme.” He quickly distanced himself from Perry’s remarks and said the problems with Social Security can be fixed.
Cantor also believes that the fear among his constituents about a double-dip recession is real, especially among small businesses and people who have lost their jobs. But it isn’t too late to reverse the country’s economic drift. “[Congress] has got to focus on how to provide incentives for businesses to get back in the game for job creation and investment.”