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Posted at 01:07 PM ET, 05/18/2011

Cantor is latest Republican to dismiss importance of debt-ceiling deadline for financial markets


(By Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters in Richmond Wednesday that financial markets watching discussions over raising the nation’s debt limit are looking to see progress on cutting spending in Washington -- rather than a resolution of negotiations by any deadline.

“What I think is that the markets are looking to see credible progress on changing the fiscal trajectory in Washington,” Cantor said, after a job forum for local business executives at Virginia Commonwealth University. “The markets are not fooled by some date imposed to say that that is the trigger for the collapse. I think the markets are looking to see that there is real reform.”

The notion is one that has come to be embraced by a growing number of conservatives -- that the U.S. government will not go into default if Congress fails to raise the country’s debt limit by Aug. 2. In contrast, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, other financial experts and Democratic lawmakers warn of potentially dire consequences.

Cantor repeated that House Republicans want to see “trillions of dollars in cuts” in exchange for their support for raising the debt ceiling. Bipartisan negotiations led by Vice President Biden on the issue have made progress, he said, though they have taken place only at the staff level while the House has been on recess this week.

“The discussions have been helpful,” he said. “We haven’t had any resolution yet. But again I think there is an understanding within the room that we’ve got to get the job done.

“All of us want to see the fiscal house brought in order,” he said. “All of us understand the gravity of the debt ceiling and the need for it to be raised. But I would say it is more reckless for us to just raise the debt ceiling blindly without putting in place and accomplishing real spending cuts and real reform to the tune of trillion dollars.”

At Cantor’s job forum, a group of four local business leaders and an economist told a sympathetic Cantor that government regulation, taxation and uncertainty about the new federal health care law is stifling their ability to expand and create new jobs. A small crowd submitted questions about job creation to panel moderator Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who read some allowed.

Afterward, some audience members complained that questions had been screened. As the event broke up, two women shouted from the audience, questioning why Cantor had risked a government shutdown over objections to federal spending for Planned Parenthood.

“If jobs are the most important thing, why have you spent five months attacking women’s health, Planned Parenthood, NPR — why?” called out Sandee Delano, a regional organizer for Moveon.org from Williamsburg.

“I don’t think that’s where we’ve been focused,” Cantor told her.

“Bull! You have too,” she responded.

By  |  01:07 PM ET, 05/18/2011

 
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