House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says Republicans are ready to cooperate with President Barack Obama on worker-retraining programs and immigration reform. But the Virginia Republican stressed on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Wednesday the administration must work with the GOP to implement approaches that differ from failed policies that helped create the Wall Street crisis and perpetuate the “lingering” housing calamity.
“The bottom line is . . . this economy overall could be doing a lot better, and the reason why we’re not doing a lot better is the policies that have been promoted by this president and the White House just haven’t worked,” Cantor said. “As we continue to try and focus on the economy and jobs, we’ve got to try something different. And instead of focusing on new programs out of Washington — on new things that this government can do — why don’t we focus on the private sector and growing small businesses, because that’s where jobs come from.”
Addressing the president’s proposal in the State of the Union speech to make it easier for Americans to refinance or purchase homes, Cantor agreed the housing crisis is still “lingering.” But he said he was “worried” that Obama’s proposal “would actually cost something.”
“I’m not sure how it’s going to be paid for,” Cantor said. “He did mention some sort of tax to be placed on financial institutions. Again, there’s no free money out there, I think we’ve seen that.”
Still, Cantor indicated there were areas of clear agreement with the administration, including the president’s call for improved worker-training programs and reforms that would make it easier for immigrants who study in the United States to remain and work here.
Cantor agreed both efforts would help put Americans back to work and help ensure U.S. employers get the kind of skilled workers they need to compete.
“I don’t think there’s any question that, yes, we can work together in trying to focus on how we get people back to work, how we go and provide an ability for people to retrain, so that we can meet the needs of the employers and jobs of the future,” Cantor said.
He also added that he was glad to hear Obama talk specifically about “the high-skilled workforce that could be available to this country” if not for the nation’s “antiquated immigration laws.”
Noting that changes in immigration laws to make it easier for skilled immigrants to stay here are part of the Republicans’ job creating agenda, Cantor said, “At least we can do some things we can agree on. That’s one of them.”
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