Cantor calls for real policies for real Americans
The House Majority Leader told a packed room at Washington’s American Enterprise Institute Feb. 5 that Republicans in Congress and across the country need to focus on what really matters to Americans: education, health and opportunity.
“During the last several years with the stagnant economy, too many mothers and fathers have had to come home, walk into the kitchen and tell their families they didn’t have a job anymore,” said Rep. Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.), who was introduced for his speech “Make Life Work for More People” by his close friend AEI CEO Arthur C. Brooks. To accompany the speech the leader’s office put out the hashtag: #makinglifework
“How does a family like that save for a rainy day, when it just got tough to even make it through the next month?” the leader asked.
“The average American does not care about ‘where the Republican Party is going,’” Cantor said in his question and answer session with the audience.
“They’re thinking about how to make their life work,” he said. “The point of my talk today is to say that we, Republicans in the House, are dedicated those things.”
A Capitol Hill staffer familiar with the leader’s motivation for the speech said the Republican Party is very good at laying out logical arguments for its programs, but in the last election it failed a more important test: Americans do not like or trust Republicans.
In this case, all the logic in the world will not convince voters to elect Republicans, the aide said. The leader will make the case that Republicans get it, and they will do something about it.
Cantor said, “We will advance proposals aimed at producing results in areas like education, health care, innovation and job growth.”
Conservatism works, he said.
“Our solutions will be based on the conservative principles of self -reliance, faith in the individual, trust in the family and accountability in government,” he said. “Our goal – to ensure every American has a fair shot at earning their success and achieving their dreams.”
The leader’s face lit up when he introduced to the audience a young constituent, who is beating her cancer. “Katie was diagnosed with a brain tumor just after her first birthday. This is every parent’s worst nightmare. For years, she went through different treatments and therapies with little success,” he said.
The 12-year-old received lifesaving treatment at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., but she and her parents still have to return regularly to make sure she is still cancer-free, he said.
“Prayers for Katie’s recovery help. But we also must pray that scientists and researchers find cures to these diseases so our parents and grandparents don’t leave us too soon, or that children like Katie are not robbed of a healthy life,” he said.
Americans expect the federal government to fund research to fight cancer and other diseases, he said.
“We can and must do better,” he said.
“This includes cutting unnecessary red tape in order to speed up the availability of life saving drugs and treatments and reprioritizing existing federal research spending,” the Virginian said. “Funds currently spent by the government on social science – including on politics of all things – would be better spent helping find cures to diseases.”
Cantor introduced other individuals to use their stories to illustrate his points.
Joseph Kelley, a single father in Washington raising three daughters and a son, was example of the frustrations regular people have trying to do the best for their children, he said.
Kelley’s son Rashawn was in a backward public school with eight police officers patrolling the halls, he said. When his son fell way behind his classmates, he sought out D.C. Opportunity Scholarships for his children, so they can attend a private school. At the new school Rashawn not only caught up, but he is now a college student.
If the money spent by the government on education was attached to the students, not given to the schools, then schools would have to compete for students, he said.
Always a supporter of immigration reform for highly skilled workers, the leader seemed to embrace the spirit of the Dream-like and Dream-lite bills working their way through Capitol Hill hallways.
“It’s no secret that there are more than 11 million people here illegally, many of whom have become part of the fabric of our country. They, like us, have families and dreams,” he said.
Yes, he said “dreams.”
“One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents,” he said.
“It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home,” he said.
There must also be enforcement, he said.
Cantor also said America should fix the situation where the brightest minds attend the country’s colleges and universities and our laws force them to leave—even when they want to stay and become productive here. For this point, the majority leader introduced Fiona Zhou, who is earning her master’s degree at the George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science in the capital.
“She’s pretty smart. She would like to stay here and invest her talents in America, and maybe even start her own company,” he said.
After the speech, Zhou said, “Actually, I am really honored to be included in part of this speech, I was listening and then suddenly I realized he was talking about my story.”
The engineering student, who grew up outside of Shanghai, said she represents millions of foreign students in America, who do not want to go home, but must because of the immigration laws.
“I have two friends, who had to go back to China, they had to stop working here because they lost their status,” she said. “They were working so hard, and wanted to apply their knowledge help this country, but they could not stay here.”