Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

House majority leader says government should support innovators

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Monday told a packed gathering at the Michigan League Ballroom that to build the economy government needs to continue supporting those who create businesses and opportunity, from whose ranks have sprung entrepreneurs including Henry Ford and Steve Jobs.

 
  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., answers questions from the audience after his address at the Michigan League. (Photo by Daryl Marshke, U-M Photo Services)

"We need more than a jobs plan, we need a Steve Jobs plan," Cantor, R-Va., said, adding government should support leaders and innovators who create new industries and new ideas that benefit society.

"Job building and community building are what successful people can do," Cantor said. "Small business owners, businessmen and women are the key formula for success in America. It is students like you who can be the designers and builders of America's ladders."

Cantor's appearance was presented by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy as part of a lecture series that brings high-profile speakers to campus. President Mary Sue Coleman introduced Cantor and said former U.S. President Ford would have appreciated the forum, which included partisan questions from the audience.

Cantor said this week he would be moving a bill in Congress to ease access to capital, to "help these risk takers in achieving their dream."

While he supports public schools, he said charter schools have served many students in areas where public schools are not adequate. "We need to ensure access to the best schools available," Cantor said. "No child should be forced to attend a school that is failing her."

Cantor said that he rejects Occupy Wall Street protesters' contention that the rich are to blame for society's ills. "We don't believe that those who are succeeding are somehow taking away from those still climbing the ladder," said Cantor. "The goal shouldn't be to be meeting in the middle of the ladder. It can't simply be about wealth redistribution. We should want everyone to be successful."

Outside, several dozen protesters held signs echoing the themes of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and chanted slogans. Among them was Amanda Tracy, an LSA junior. "We are protesting his anti-union voting record and his anti-human rights record, especially his LGBT voting record," she said.

Inside, roughly a dozen audience members rose and turned their backs to Cantor through the question-and-answer session that followed his talk. Some shouted challenges of the congressman's remarks, while others offered spirited applause in support of Cantor.

"We think it is extremely important to bring people a range of ideas. We're very pleased he came," said Susan Collins, Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy at the Ford School.

Gabe Klausner, an LSA freshman from New York City, said the forum provided a welcome glimpse of current events.

"You get a sense of real-life politics, real-life exposure to how that all works," said Nathan Zack, an LSA freshman from San Francisco.