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GOP leader visits A&M

Cantor discusses higher ed policy

Published: Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 22:07



Eric Cantor, House majority leader, speaks at the Bush Library Complex on Wednesday.

The air around the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum buzzed Wednesday as Republican House majority leader Eric Cantor visited Texas A&M to speak at the William Waldo Cameron Forum on Public Affairs.

The twice-annual forum brings recognized leaders and experts on public affairs from around the world to the library. Cantor, a congressman from Virginia and second-highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, visited the Bush School to speak about the state of the economy and education in America.

Cantor addressed what he sees as the shortcomings of the economic policy of President Barack Obama's administration. He has developed a reputation among the GOP as a budget guru after spearheading the opposition to the 2009 stimulus bill.

"America is built on the idea that the rules are the same for everyone and, if you work hard enough, you can move up the ladder," Cantor said. "The government needs to be giving a helping hand up, not a hand-out."

Jesse Leatherwood, freshman wildlife and fisheries sciences major who participated in the Occupy Dallas protests, said he attended to hear Cantor's stance.

"In Dallas I was a part of the 99 percent, so today I came to hear the 1 percent," Leatherwood said.

Before his speech, Cantor fielded policy questions from the media.

The latest CBS/New York Times poll reported that congressional approval ratings have fallen to an all-time low, at 9 percent. Cantor said he believes this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

"The economy is bad, really bad in some places, and American people are suffering while we're stuck playing politics in Washington," Cantor said.

Cuts to higher education have been a common attribute of Republican attempts to reduce government spending.

The Daily Beast, an online news reporting and opinion site affiliated with Newsweek, reported in July that at a White House budget negotiation Cantor suggested students begin paying interest on loans right away, as opposed to deferring payment until graduation.

"I don't know if those statements are accurate," Cantor said. "I do know, however, that the American university system is the crown jewel of the world in regard to higher education."

In a question-and-answer session after his speech, Cantor was asked how his party would motivate top-class students to pursue careers teaching.

"I do think it's very important that we get quality teachers into our schools," Cantor said. "I would implement a merit-based compensation system that would reward prestigious students who go into the teaching field and do a great job."

Bill Bennett, a resident who was in attendance at the forum, said he sees potential in Cantor's political future.

"He's a real up-and-coming member of the party," Bennett said. "There's a really good chance we could see him on the Presidential ballot soon."

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