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Cantor Says Tax Loopholes Are on the Table

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor pushed back Wednesday against President Barack Obama’s assertion that bipartisan negotiations on the debt limit broke down over tax loopholes and special tax breaks for industry, insisting that House Republicans would be willing to discuss the issue.

“If the president wants to talk loopholes, we’ll be glad to talk loopholes,” Cantor said in his weekly press briefing. “We’ve said all along that preferences in the code aren’t something that helps economic growth overall. Listen, we’re not for any proposal that increases taxes, and any type of discussion should be coupled with offsetting tax cuts somewhere else.”

The Virginia Republican, who participated in the debt talks led by Vice President Joseph Biden, said the tax loopholes would generate only a small amount toward deficit reduction, whereas bipartisan negotiators had agreed to more than $2 trillion in spending cuts. Cantor said the Biden blueprint is still in play.

“That deal is still in the works. I believe it is still there and that we can deliver on it,” Cantor said.

Obama is scheduled to meet with Congressional leaders, including Cantor and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Thursday at the White House.

Cantor said that he backed out of the Biden discussions because it was clear Democrats wanted to include revenue raisers as a part of the deal.

Indeed, House Democrats are continuing to hammer home that revenues and cuts in discretionary spending must be on the table.

House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Wednesday, “Everything needs to be on the table, and when I say everything, I mean everything.”

The Maryland Democrat predicted that any debt deal will need Democratic votes to pass the House, reminding reporters that 81 Members joined Republicans to pass the continuing resolution in March. But, Hoyer said Democratic support would not come without a price.

“I’m not going to help on some draconian do it my way or the highway vote, but we Democrats are prepared to cooperate in order to assure the credit worthiness of the United States of America is not put at risk,” he said.

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