House Minority Whip on Tax Hikes to Pay for Health Care

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," July 17, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, the president says the time is a wasting, but, if he is trying to strong-arm quick health care reform, he's wasting his time, not with Republicans, but apparently with Democrats, or at least more than a few key Democrats.

Congressman Eric Cantor, House minority whip, and he is starting to see this peeling off of key Democratic support as we speak.

Congressman, always to have you.

What is happening out there?

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: Well, Neil, it is good to be with you.

Video: Watch Neil's interview

Well, you know, as you suggest, the president came out today and insisted that the House act quickly on a health care reform proposal that they have proposed to push through this month.

But, you know, the latest news that we have had released yesterday was, the Congressional Budget Office came out with a statement that, in fact, the Democrats' plan does nothing to arrest the surge in health care costs in this country, so essentially blowing a hole in the reason for why we would be doing this in the first place.

CAVUTO: So, that was a key sort of a deal-changer for some of these, for want of a better expression, the Blue Dog Democrats, but others as well.

Do you know how many, Congressmen, and what we're looking at?

CANTOR: Well, I know that there have been published reports that there are at least 10 members of the Democratic Party, the moderates on the Energy and Commerce Committee, who oppose this measure. I know we, in the Ways and Means Committee, last night saw three Democrats vote against the bill.

Listen, I think that moderate Democrats are looking at this and saying, this bill crushes small businesses. And, as you know, Neil, the top priority in the minds of most Americans is the economy right now, is getting people back to work.

And, if we're going to impose a payroll tax of over 8 percent on small businesspeople, how can we expect them to start hiring American workers again?

CAVUTO: So, let me ask you this. Crunching the numbers — and you're great at this — let's say there are 47 Blue Dogs. I never know the number. They keep changing. But let's say more than half of them vote against this. And we had one on yesterday who said that's — that was not likely. Most, if not all, Republicans vote against this. The numbers still are in favor, ever so slightly, of passage in the House, are they not?

CANTOR: Well, yes, that is the reality. We saw it happen on the cap and trade vote two weeks ago. The Democrats have a 40-vote majority, so they can afford to lose as many as that in terms of this health care bill.

But what they're seeing is an increasing number every day of Democratic members saying, hey, wait a minute, we can't support this. And they're saying that because the people at home are looking at this gargantuan proposal, thinking, how — how are we going to pay for this?

Well, you know, we don't know, because the Congressional Budget Office says that it's not paid for, that the budget hole that this...

CAVUTO: How much did that change things? When the CBO came out with that, I know you mentioned earlier on that kind of rankled some of these guys. But the CBO didn't give it a total slap-down, but said that some of the cost savings that the administration was looking at just aren't there.

Then, in the mix, Nancy Pelosi came up with this idea, yes, the cost savings are there, but we're not going to take the — the tax hikes on the wealthy away. This is what she said. I want to get your reaction to it.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have to have a revenue stream to ensure that the bill will be paid for. If we don't need that money, we can use it to reduce the deficit.


CAVUTO: So, she just changed the rules.



CANTOR: That is outrageous. Listen, all she is saying is, we're going to raise taxes no matter what.

And this is what the people at home and both Republican and Democratically held seats are saying, that, wait a minute, we can't take any more of this tax-and-spend policy.

I thought that the president said the big reason why we're doing this is to reduce the cost burden on the American people, so that we can get our way into seeing more quality health care at a cheaper cost. So that statement, I think, really doesn't bode well for the prospects currently of getting more members on their side of the aisle to support this bill.

Look, people in this country that have health care coverage right now by and large like what they have. They don't like the costs associated with it. So, it is a priority that we reduce health care costs.

But the other problem with the measure being — attempted to being rammed through this Congress is that it imposes a government plan. And we heard in the Ways and Means Committee last night discussion about this government plan and how people...

CAVUTO: All right.

CANTOR: ... unelected bureaucrats here in Washington are going to impose on people the kind of health care they want. The American people don't want that.

CAVUTO: And the battle ensues.

All right, Eric Cantor, thank you very, very much. And on and on they go.

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