House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) acknowledged Monday that if Congress doesn’t act quickly to raise the debt limit, markets will react poorly.
His admission is somewhat at odds with a growing line of argument from senior Republicans that a brief default by the U.S. on its payment obligations won’t trigger significant economic consequences. Nonetheless, he continues to insist that Republicans will not raise the national debt limit without also cutting trillions of dollars in spending over the next decade — and he credited Vice President Joe Biden for leading fruitful negotiations over just how to do that.
“The urgency of the matter is everybody assumes that the markets — we don’t want the markets to make this decision for us,” Cantor said at his weekly Capitol briefing with reporters.
Less than a month ago, at a job forum in Virginia, Cantor had a different take.
“What I think is that the markets are looking to see credible progress on changing the fiscal trajectory in Washington,” he said. “The markets are not fooled by some date imposed to say that that is the trigger for the collapse. I think the markets are looking to see that there is real reform.”
On Monday, he strongly praised Biden’s stewardship of the bipartisan debt discussions — a rare move from the Majority Leader, who consistently criticizes Senate Democrats and President Obama for abdicating leadership on the question of the country’s fiscal imbalance.
“I think the success of these talks thus far is due to the Vice President and the way he’s conducted these meetings.
I’m looking forward to increasing the momentum toward some sort of solution, Cantor said. “I’ve been very impressed by the way he conducts these meetings. He does like to talk. I guess all of us do, or else we wouldn’t be here…. I believe we are now beginning to see the essence of convergence on savings begin to happen.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.