This is a rush transcript from "Your World," September 20, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": You are looking live right now at the House floor. Lawmakers are gearing up to vote on a resolution to block waiving work requirements in the welfare reform law.
Let's just say it's an issue that has the House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, fuming.
REP. ERIC CANTOR, R-VA. HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: If you look at what the president's been about since he has been in office, it has been really about waiving the work requirement, especially when it has to do with the food stamp program.
So, without -- with all the rancor and everything, I decided to ask the Congressional Research Service, which is as you know a nonpartisan arm of the Congress, to take a look at -- and this is their study -- to take a look at the history of the SNAP program, the food stamp program, under the Obama administration.
Well, the Obama administration and the president asked for the waiver of the work requirement in the stimulus bill. And what we have seen is that the president continually has supported waiving the work requirement. And the impact of that on the food stamp program is we have seen a doubling of the population that would otherwise be required to work under the food stamp population that is now -- that were benefiting from the program when you didn't put the work requirement in.
CAVUTO: But, congressman, could you argue that a lot of those people are on food stamps because the poverty rate has increased, the economy's been iffy at best, and so it is natural that it would increase to this level?
CANTOR: No question that, in a tougher economy, you're going to see the rolls swell.
But that population only swelled about over 40 percent. What we're talking about is, able-bodied individuals without dependents who would otherwise be subjected to the work requirement. That population itself more than doubled.
It was over a 100-and-some percent increase. And this is the point. Nobody wants to take away these benefits from people in need. What we want to do is make sure that they begin to need them less, which means they'd get back to work.
And this work requirement includes the ability to go to a training program. And, again, so it makes no sense as to why the president would be asking for these waivers. History has shown he's supported waivers throughout his presidency on the SNAP program, or the food stamp program, which is why I believe you see him asking for the waiver of the work requirement again under welfare. We're against that.
CAVUTO: But you could flip this around with the -- I understand where you're coming from, congressman.
But Democrats will seize on your remarks today, others on the heels of Mitt Romney's 47 percent remarks, and say, see; the Republicans have a dismissive view of the needy.
How would you answer that?
CANTOR: That is not true. We have a bill on the floor that we will vote on this afternoon that we will vote on today that is a bill that overturns the administration's move to lift the waiver requirements for work.
And what we say is this. We want -- we do not want to take away from people in need the safety net. We don't. What we want to try and do is make sure that less people need that safety net. And the way you do it is you help them get back to work. You help them access training programs.
We want life to work for people. We do not want to just rob them of what they need. We want them to need the safety net less and to get back into a productive mode so they can begin to determine their own destiny. That's what we want to try and do.
CAVUTO: By the way, I mentioned Mitt Romney and the 47 percent remarks. And he's trying to bounce back from that.
What did you think of what he said?
CANTOR: Well, again, I think that what we want to be focused is on the fact that Republicans care about people's well-being.
The purpose of some of the fiscal policies we put on the table is to actually sustain the safety nets, again, to make sure that people who need the safety nets have access to those safety net programs.
CAVUTO: So, you don't think he was throwing half the people in this country under the bus or saying, the hell with you, I'm not getting anywhere with you?
CANTOR: No, I don't.
I think again it's a distraction that the Obama campaign is trying to put out there to take away from their record, which has been a failure, because I do believe that you talk to most people in the country. They know that we can do better in America. They know that their life can work better if it were just for better leadership in Washington. And that's what this election is about.
CAVUTO: But are you worried about how it's resonating in the polls?
And I know -- and you and I talked at the convention how it's very early to make a big deal out of polls and swings. But, in battleground states, things are not looking good for this ticket, and, more to the point, maybe even the Senate for Republicans.
In your own state of Virginia, the Democrat has pulled out to a four or five-point lead depending on the poll. So hopes of the Republicans taking the Senate might look a little iffy now. Who knows? As you remind me again, time tells, but that, somehow, Republicans are not seizing the initiative or botching it.
What do you say?
CANTOR: Well, I know, in Virginia, Neil, that the issue is about jobs, it's about helping people get back to work.
We have a huge issue in the commonwealth about the defense cuts.
CANTOR: Obviously, we are a defense-rich state. And this president has failed to put a solution on the table that would help avoid the defense cuts.
CAVUTO: Yes, but you guys signed on to that sequestration that now means these defense cuts, right?
CANTOR: Well, as you know, Neil, the House has taken action to say we don't want these defense cuts. We want to act in a fiscally responsible way to make sure that we are beginning to slim down the federal spending, but don't do it in a way which disproportionately impacts our defense-related jobs.