Eric Cantor acting "childish" in debt talks, Reid says

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Va. addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Friday, Feb. 19, 2010. AP

Updated at 11:55 a.m. ET

Leaders in Washington are pointing fingers at each other as the United States moves increasingly closer to the possibility of a default on government loans, but one Republican in particular is taking heat from Democrats: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today called Cantor's behavior in debt and deficit negotiations "childish."

At a press conference today, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., placed the blame squarely on Cantor for letting the clock tick closer to default.

"It can't just be Eric Cantor deciding everything," Schumer said. "If Eric Cantor decides everything, I fear we'll be in default."

Schumer made similar remarks Wednesday on the Senate floor.

"There is one person who hasn't come up with a plan, hasn't compromised, hasn't reached out to the other side in an effort to move forward, and that is the majority leader in the House, Mr. Cantor," Schumer said, the Hill reports. "He is the only one who still says, 'My way or the highway.'"

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Democrats' campaign arm, released a statement yesterday calling Cantor "the leading Republican voice against ending taxpayer giveaways for Big Oil companies or tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires."

The focus on Cantor follows a contentious meeting Wednesday between President Obama and other leaders negotiating a deal to reduce the deficit, as part of a package deal to raise the debt ceiling (the amount of money the federal government is technically allowed to borrow).

Mr. Obama reportedly ended the meeting yesterday by saying, "enough is enough," after Cantor repeatedly asked for a short-term deal. The president told leaders they need to find common ground by Friday, in order to assure markets and the American public that the U.S. won't have to default on its loans as a result of not raising the debt ceiling. Moody's Investors Service said Wednesday it will review the government's credit rating, noting there is a small but rising risk that the government will default on its debt.

Of all of the negotiators at the table, Schumer said today, Cantor is "the only real person who has not made any concessions."

"He is basically standing in the way, and it's a shame," Schumer said.

Throughout the negotiations, Cantor has appeared to more steadfastly represent conservative views than other GOP leaders. Late last month, he dropped out of negotiations led by Vice President Joe Biden, declaring the talks had reached an impasse. The move won Cantor the praise from some in the conservative base.

It should be noted, as Cantor's spokesperson told the Hill in response to Schumer's remarks, that Cantor is still very much engaged in discussions with the White House. Reid, however, said this morning that Cantor shouldn't be engaged.

"House majority leader Eric Cantor has shown he shouldn't be at the table, and Republicans agree he shouldn't be at the table," Reid said on the Senate floor. "Even Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader McConnell seem to understand the seriousness of this situation. They are willing to negotiate in good faith which I appreciate, and the country appreciates."

Mr. Obama has also praised Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner as "sincere" negotiators.

McConnell released his own "back up" plan on Tuesday, to the ire of the conservative base, but Cantor released a statement the next day saying, "Currently, there is not a single debt limit proposal that can pass the House of Representatives."

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