Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.), the House Majority Leader, on NBC’s Meet the Press:
The key exchange:
MR. GREGORY: But you don’t have–if you say serious spending cuts, you clearly have–don’t have something specific in mind, right? You–in other words, you’ll, you’ll know it when you see it, is that the approach?
REP. CANTOR: No, no, that’s not true. First of all, David, we’re going to have a vote on the floor on Tuesday of this week directing our appropriations committees to go about deliberating on where those cuts are. Now, we know that there are hundreds of programs that are going to need to be cut. When you’re talking about cutting $100 billion, you’re going to have hundreds of programs in the thousands pages of spending plan that the federal government has. This week we will vote on an issue having to do with the Presidential Election Fund. We’re going, we’re going to vote to cut that. That’s a $500 and some million expenditure. We’re going to see hundreds of programs experience analysis and cuts just like that.
MR. GREGORY: But let’s deal with the–you know, $500 million is really a drop in the bucket in the federal–I, I realize it’s real money, but in terms of the federal–the, the budget, that’s nothing. You’re not really tackling the big three. You’re not tackling entitlements. What about defense? Is defense on the table, defense cuts on the table? Do they have to be?
REP. CANTOR: I’ll get to entitlements in a second if you want.
MR. GREGORY: OK.
REP. CANTOR: But I can tell you, we’ve always said this, too: Every dollar should be on the table. And I’ve said before…
MR. GREGORY: Including defense cuts.
REP. CANTOR: I’ve–absolutely.
MR. GREGORY: OK.
REP. CANTOR: I’ve said before, no one can defend the expenditure of every dollar and cent over at the Pentagon. And we’ve got to be very serious to make sure that they’re doing more with less as well.
MR. GREGORY: But look at The Wall Street Journal, the piece by Dick Armey of Freedom Works, the tea party group. He said, “What Congress Should Cut,” and the sub-headline says this: “Let’s scrap the Departments of Commerce and Housing and Urban Development, end farm subsidies, and end urban mass transit grants, just for starters.” Would those be on the table?
REP. CANTOR: Everything, David, is on the table. I mean, we’ve got to do with…
MR. GREGORY: Cancer research is on the table.
REP. CANTOR: We’ve got to–listen, we’ve got to do what families in this country are doing, what businesses are doing. You’ve got to learn to do more with less. You can’t afford to sustain this level of borrowing and spending. Everyone knows that. So we’ve got to be very, very good and disciplined to make sure that we are cutting what needs to be cut and focused on growing this economy so America can maintain its competitiveness and we can see jobs grow in the private sector.