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Eric Cantor: Not Washington's Role to 'Jack Up the Economy'

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said at a jobs forum Monday that Washington is shackling growth-oriented entrepreneurs and frustrating bipartisan efforts to spur job growth by stoking class warfare.

Washington should focus on creating business-oriented policies, he said, but “it’s not Washington’s role to somehow pick another way to go and jack up the economy.”

Cantor said that he and Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), pegged early by leadership as an up-and-comer in the 2010 freshman class, would be introducing a bill to give a 20 percent tax cut to small businesses.

“That sends a signal that Washington is really trying to encourage small-business activity,” Cantor said at the YG Network Summit on economic growth and job creation in the 21st century at DC’s W Hotel.

“The goal isn’t really as much to protect the citizen as to unleash the individual,” Scott said. “What are the remedies we can bring to the table? Most of the remedies that business owners want have nothing to do with Washington.”

“We can destroy jobs,” Scott stressed. “We simply cannot create jobs.” But legislators can bring forth bills that help entrepreneurs “move the ball forward,” he said.

Revolution Chairman and CEO Steve Case urged greater bipartisan cooperation on the Hill to spur business growth, but Cantor countered that both sides of the aisle clearly have said they want growth. “It’s just the words have not matched the actions and we’re trying to force that,” the congressman said, noting that efforts at bipartisanship have been stymied by “the sort of rhetoric that has been so omnipresent in this town” — pitting rich against poor.

“Successful people can help people who are not,” Cantor said, urging that Washington “set aside that sort of nonsense” that takes the “very dangerous” route of stoking class warfare.

“It really has been much more about dividing than multiplying,” he said. “When Washington says, no, I want to tax you because you’re too successful … that’s anti-growth.”

Scott said cross-aisle negotiating should only go so far as both parties do have ideological differences. “The Keystone pipeline is a wonderful area for us to start the discussion,” he said.

“I used to be a Democrat, too,” said Tom Stemberg, who founded Staples in 1986. “Then I started a business.”

This was the first event of the YG Network, sharing its name with the Young Guns Program helmed by Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) that helped propel Republicans back to a House majority in 2010. YG Network President John Murray said that the group would hold a number of events through the year and beyond the election to drive debate.

David Thomson, author of “Blueprint to a Billion: 7 Essentials to Achieve Exponential Growth” and moderator of both panels, said it’s imperative for all parties concerned about job growth to get on the same page.

“Every presidential election happens in the peak and valleys of growth cycles,” he said. “…We have to think about firing on all cylinders for America’s job engine to grow.”

A $1 billion business is equivalent to 1,000 small businesses in terms of job creation, Thomson said. The challenge is creating more small businesses and getting them to grow.

Stemberg blamed onerous regulations for quashing business growth, noting that a Republican president should start by repealing ObamaCare and working down from there.

“Any legal system in the world is better than our legal system,” he said of the regulatory and legal obstacles for business.

“Instead of focusing on sales we’ve spent a lot of time focusing on compliance,” said Yarko “J.J.” Sos, president and CEO of Check-6.

Joe Scarlett, who has spent 30 years as president or CEO of Tractor Supply Company, said he heard the greatest number of regulatory complaints from business owners about the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The cumulative effect of all this regulation tends to paralyze people in business,” Scarlett said.

“It’s almost as if this town wants to micromanage … in order to wipe out any risk,” Cantor said.

“This is not rocket science,” the majority leader said. “This is about running a pro-growth environment. …Let’s set out a plan and let’s just do it.”

Also read Bridget’s post, ‘Cantor: Adding Jobs in January is Good, but is it Sustainable?‘ on the Tatler.