House Majority Leader Eric I. Cantor took on the Affordable Care Act, the issue of school choice and what he described as providing more opportunities for the middle class during a roughly half hour lecture Monday in the Wick Campus Center at Daemen College in Amherst.
The six-term Republican representing Virginia’s 7th congressional district was the second speaker invited to participate in the college’s newly established Distinguished Leaders Lecture Series featuring local, national and international political leaders.
“We are fighting for an America that works for everybody again,” Cantor said of the House Republican leadership, which has been locked in a protracted battle with President Obama and the Democratic leadership in the Senate since 2011.
Meanwhile, Cantor told those assembled for his lecture that Americans have grown pessimistic about the course the country has taken under President Obama, largely due to the still sluggish economy; the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare; excessive government regulation of private businesses; and shrinking opportunities for young people.
“If you think about it, the promise of America has always been that there are no limits. There’s no limits as to what one can accomplish, as long as you’re willing to work hard and play by the rules,” Cantor said, early his speech.
To that end, he said, the House Republican leadership is focusing on four different areas to boost Americans’ faith that government can work. They include more focused job creation and strengthening the economy; attending to the economic squeeze on middle class Americans; providing to an alternative to the Affordable Care Act; and creating more opportunities for young people by expanding what he called “school choice.”
“Now one of those things that people are worried about continuously is that thing called health care,” Cantor said, referring to Obamacare, which has withstood 50 attempts by Republicans to repeal the law since it passed in November 2009.
“Repealing Obamacare has always been a goal of House Republicans, and while it will continue to be, a repeal alone is not enough,” said Cantor.
“Over the next year, we’re going to be focused on patient-centered reforms and alternatives that reduce costs, maintain access to doctors and pediatricians and to hospitals and to help those with pre-existing conditions, while covering more people and actually bringing costs down for everyone,” he added.
Cantor said the House leadership is continuing “to explore education opportunities through school choice for young Americans, including the expansion of charter schools. Cantor also criticized Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for his plans to tighten restrictions on charter schools’ access to publicly owned school buildings, while lauding Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s stance against de Blasio.
“Now I would probably guess that he and I don’t agree on a lot, but he has been a great partner in supporting charter schools, and I want to be the one to applaud him and commend him for being part of that effort,” Cantor said.
Students from Amherst Central High School were among those who attended Monday’s lecture.
Also in attendance were local Republican stalwarts, including former U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds of Amherst; current Erie Community College president former U.S. Rep. Jack Quinn; and U.S. Rep. Chris Collins of Clarence, who introduced Cantor.