Cantor to GOP: Avoid ‘Unneccesary’ Conflict

by Andrew Stiles

In a Wednesday memo to rank-and-file members, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) urged members to refrain from political brinksmanship in the months ahead in order to avoid creating “unnecessary uncertainty” in the economy.

“Now in our system of government, there is always some degree of policy uncertainty — especially when there is divided control of government,” Cantor writes. “And it is also the case that this type of uncertainty is often better than the certainty of bad policy (we would be worse off, for example, with permanent but higher tax rates). But it is critical that in the days and months ahead we do our best to minimize unnecessary uncertainty.”

“We only control slightly more than half of one-third of Washington,” Cantor reminds the caucus, and highlights two areas in which the GOP should seek to avoid such uncertainty — regarding the fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills, as well as the so-called “super-committee” on deficit reduction.

Because Congress (or rather, the Democratic Senate) has not approved a 2012 budget, they will have to pass another continuing resolution before Sept. 30 to keep the government running. Cantor’s memo is a fairly straightforward indication that GOP leadership does not wish to go through a repeat of the “government shutdown” debate that played out in the spring. He simply suggests that House Republicans stick to the spending levels called for in the recent debt-ceiling deal, as opposed to trying to push for deeper cuts.

“While all of us would like to have seen a lower discretionary appropriations ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year, the debt limit agreement did set a level of spending that is a real cut from the current year level,” Cantor writes. “I believe it is in our interest to enact into law full-year appropriations bills at this new lower level.”

As for the super-committee, Cantor writes that it would be “in everyone’s interest” to allow the committee to conduct its work and for Congress to pass a deficit-reduction package of “at least $1.5 trillion” in spending cuts (no tax increases), pointing out that some members have been suggesting it would be better just to scrap the committee and live with the cuts called for in the sequestration trigger, designed to go into effect if the committee fails to reach an agreement.

“I believe this is false and would unnecessarily induce more uncertainty and a worse policy outcome,” he writes. “The Speaker has made strong selections to represent us on the Joint Committee. I am confident that they will be successful and think it is critical that their efforts enjoy the full support of our Conference.”

The GOP’s primary focus, Cantor argues, should be to “put an end to the policy uncertainty constantly being driven by this Administration” by seeking to undo costly regulations and putting the kibosh on Democratic efforts to enact additional stimulus measures. “As we return this fall, let us commit to keeping focused on what is most important to the people and families that sent us here — jobs and economic growth.”

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