US House leader optimistic on Obama cooperation
* Cantor, Obama discussed spending cuts, tax reform
* Republicans will unveil spending cut proposals weekly
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON, Jan 6 (Reuters) - House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Thursday said he is optimistic that Republicans in Congress can work with President Barack Obama to cut federal spending and reform the U.S. tax code.
In U.S. television interviews, the Virginia Republican said he spoke to Obama by telephone on Wednesday to discuss spending cuts and urged the president to see last year's compromise on Bush-era tax cuts as a blueprint for tax reform going forward.
Republicans, who officially took control of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, are waiting for Obama to lay out his policies in the State of the Union address to Congress, which could come as early as Jan. 25.
"I spoke to him specifically about the kinds of spending cuts that I hope he proposes in that address. I told him also that we'll be looking to see what type of ideas he's got for tax reform," Cantor said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"The president acknowledged to me, there's a lot of competition in this world and our economy is faltering right now and we've got to get back in our game so America can start winning again."
Republicans promised angry voters they would curb the $1.3 trillion deficit by reining in federal spending while reducing taxes. The party pledged to return discretionary, non-defense related spending to 2008 levels but have since said an initial $100 billion target for cuts may not be reached.
They plan to meet a Republican campaign pledge to launch a spending cut initiative each week. Cantor said the plan was meant to change the culture of Washington and "send a signal to the investors across the globe that America is serious about getting its fiscal house in order."
He said cuts would come from long-standing Republican targets including reforms of Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB), federal employee pay and benefits and economic stimulus programs that are still in place.
"We'll bring them to the floor each and every week," he said.
Cantor also said he told Obama "that hopefully you'll re-evaluate your positions as far as regulation's concerned so that we can see growth return to our economy."
"What I told the president yesterday is that we should build on the kind of proposal that came forward out of the tax dispute last year," Cantor said in an interview with CNBC. He was referring to the compromise that kept Bush-era tax cuts in place for the next two years.
"It certainly had in it some spending that we Republicans disagreed with," Cantor said. "But it also provided a very necessary role in stopping taxes from going up for everybody." (Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Stacey Joyce)