UPDATED: Cantor: Country at a crossroads

ATLANTA — Offering up a pro-business, smaller government message, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Friday said the country is at a crossroad.

“We have a real choice to make,” Cantor, R-Va., said Friday in an appearance before the Atlanta Press Club. “What kind of country do we want to be?”

Cantor has been in town for two days, visiting local businesses and stumping for Republicans in Congress.

During his roughly hour-long appearance, Cantor cited two real-life, yet varied reactions to government action — European youth who have been protesting their governments’ decisions to cut to retirement plans and Americans who march in opposition to ballooning federal government spending.

Entitlements, he said, are “the real driver of the (federal) deficit.” Medicare, for example, is on the path of collapse — “you can’t leave it the way it is, if you want it to survive. You’re going to have to change the program for those who need it,” he said.

Cantor, who took questions from the audience, said Republicans aren’t opposed to criticism. But, he added, “if you’re going to criticize us, criticize us with an alternative.”

Still, he made a point of noting that Republicans are not merely anti-government. They just want the government to not impede small businesses’ ability to create jobs and grow.

“We’re not saying no regulation. We’re saying smarter regulation,” Cantor said.

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