WASHINGTON — In the middle of December, when the dominant issue inside the Capitol was whether the speaker of the House and the president could reach a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, Eric Cantor told his staff he wanted to give a speech.
The focus of this speech, the Republican majority leader made clear, would be on issues and problems that aren’t really at the forefront of debate, but which would show Republicans’ softer side at a time when things like the threat of sequestration and continuing resolutions seem to be dominating the political conversation.
In the days leading up to that major policy speech — scheduled for Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute — Cantor aides revealed that the address, titled “Making Life Work,” will “focus on areas where Congress can help make life work for more people.”
Call it Eric Cantor’s own version of compassionate conservatism.
“Government policy should aim to strike a balance between what is needed to advance the next generation, what we can afford, what is a federal responsibility and what is necessary to ensure our children are safe, healthy and able to reach their dreams,” Cantor will say.
According to early excerpts, the Virginia Republican will touch on issues like education, health care and immigration.
“Our solutions will be based on the conservative principles of self reliance, faith in the individual, trust in the family, and accountability in government,” Cantor will say. “Our goal – to ensure every American has a fair shot at earning their success and achieving their dreams.”
On education, the majority leader will state: “One of our priorities this year will be to move heaven and earth to fix our education system for the most vulnerable.”
And Cantor is expected to outline his views on immigration, saying: “We must balance respect for the rule of law and respect for those waiting to enter this country legally, with care for people and families, most of whom just want to make a better life, and contribute to America.”
Families who would be helped by these proposals are expected to be in the audience, sources say.
Cantor’s address comes exactly a week before President Obama is set to give his State of the Union address before Congress.