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US Needs to 'Play to Win' on Economy: Rep. Eric Cantor

The prospects for U.S. economic growth are "still too little" and "too uncertain," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told CNBC on Friday.

"Europe is not in good shape," Cantor pointed out in a "Squawk Box" interview, but despite the problems the U.S. is facing "we still look to many investors, and many folks looking to allocate capital, like the place that is at least the best of the worst."

He noted, however: "We've got to play to win here."

"We can't just sit on the fact that we're America and we are always going to be the best," Cantor said. "We've got to go compete."

(Read More: US Job Creation Plunges, but Rate Drops to 7.6%)

The Virginia Republican stressed the need to create an environment in which businesses and investors can thrive by "making it so people with capital say, 'Hey, it is a good time to take the risk.'"

Cantor asserted, however, that while the GOP is working hard to reform the tax system, President Barack Obama continues to press for higher taxes.

"Given the way you score things in Washington, every time you want more static revenue it's hard to bring rates down to compete," he said.

(Read More: Wealthy Beware! IRS Audit Squad Nabs One in Eight)


Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader

On the debt-reduction front, Cantor said he's in a "wait and see" mode, ahead an expected proposal from the White House. President Obama plans to introduce a budget that includes cuts to Social Security and other entitlements. The president's budget plan is scheduled to be laid out in full on Wednesday.

Republicans and Democrats should spend more time on the issues they agree on, he offered, such as combining some parts of Medicare. He also said he regards Vice President Joe Biden as someone he can work with.

On the subject of immigration reform, Cantor said, "It's all about balancing the tradition of our being a country of immigrants ... with the notion that we are [also] a country of laws. We have to make sure we uphold the laws and evenly apply them." Cantor said he's "hopeful we can get something done" concerning an immigration bill, but in the absence of a comprehensive deal he advocated acting immediately to allow the children of immigrants "who know no other place as home" a path to citizenship.

On gay marriage, Cantor said he doesn't know where the Supreme Court will come down on the issue. But despite his "personal religious convictions" opposing it, he acknowledged that the tolerance of differing opinions is lacking in the debate.

By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere; Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC

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