Cantor Urges Obama to Enter Talks on Debt
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Monday entertained the possibility of raising the debt ceiling, an idea that's out of the question for some of his fiscally conservative colleagues in Congress. But the Virginia Republican urged President Barack Obama to come to the negotiation table.
"I want to see, first of all, an indication from the White House that they're willing to sit down and work this out and avoid some kind of dramatic incident," Cantor told CNBC's Maria Bartiromo on "Closing Bell."
He criticized the president for what he characterized as a lack of leadership on the issue.
"Most Americans expect both sides to come together," he said. "It's about leadership, and I'd like to see the president start by meeting us, sitting down at the table and discussing how we're going to resolve these problems of the debt and deficit."
Cantor added that the solution can't simply be tax increases, which Obama favors.
Meanwhile, the representative acknowledged that fears that the Federal Reserve may ease off its policies of bond-buying and near-zero interest rates helped spark the recent market selloff, but he stopped short of putting all the blame on the central bank.
"The Fed, just like most other people in America, understand that at some point, rates are going to go up," Cantor said. "The real question is when and how long of a period of which that will be a transition period."
What could jump-start markets is a restoration of faith of government and the economy, he said. The House will take up a number of bills this week that focus on job creation through oil and natural gas production.
Cantor defended fracking, the controversial underground drilling technique performed in oil-rich shales.
"We've been fracking in this country for decades and decades, and in fact it is a practice that is ongoing in much of the private lands in this country," he said. "And we don't want to see EPA begin to creep into this practice and somehow bog it down so it stops us from being competitive."
To spur job growth, Congress could also modify or appeal the Dodd-Frank law, Cantor said. Congress responded to the financial crisis by pushing through this sweeping financial reform bill—which doesn't fully address the problems that led to the meltdown anyway—it needs to be fine-tuned, he argued. More than half of Dodd-Frank has not been implemented, he said, but it is already putting a strain on small business owners because it limits liquidity.
Asked about Edward Snowden, the former U.S. spy agency contractor who leaked information about the National Security Agency's sweeping intelligence gathering, Cantor slammed the Obama administration for failing to speak out against "what seems to be lawless figure," who should be "brought back to this country and held accountable for what he has done."
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— Reuters contributed to this report