BREAKING — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) has decided to stop participating in the deficit negotiations led by Vice President Joe Biden, citing an “impasse” of the issue of tax increases.
“Each side came into these talks with certain orders, and as it stands the Democrats continue to insist that any deal must include tax increases,” Cantor said in a statement. “There is not support in the House for a tax increase, and I don’t believe now is the time to raise taxes in light of our current economic situation.”
Cantor told the Wall Street Journal that Wednesday’s meeting was far more contentious than past sessions, and talks repeatedly stalled over the tax issue. “At each meeting, it has become a little more difficult to ignore that divide,’’ he said. As a result, Cantor announced he would not attend today’s scheduled meeting.
Despite the impasse, Cantor remains optimistic, praising the vice president’s leadership in the negotiations, which have thus far yielded “trillions in spending cuts” and have “established a blueprint ” for meaningful fiscal reform. He called on President Obama to assume a bigger role in the discussions going forward. “I believe it is time for the President to speak clearly and resolve the tax issue,” said Cantor. “Once resolved, we have a blueprint to move forward to trillions of spending cuts and binding mechanisms to change the way things are done around here.”
Cantor’s decision marks a major turning point in the talks, as negotiators claim to be “down to the hard stuff,” continued to say that progress was being made. Indeed, positions have noticeably hardened in the last several days, especially on the Democratic side (See here, here and here). Meanwhile, President Obama is huddling with House Democrats today ahead of the meeting with Biden to discuss strategy.