Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 8, 2010

QUOTE OF THE DAY.... Eric Cantor (R-Va.), soon to be the House Majority Leader, insisted yesterday that Republicans would not accept any compromise on tax policy. They want it all, regardless of cost, and will accept nothing less than everything they demand.

That part wasn't surprising. It's how Cantor made the case during a Fox News interview yesterday that stood out.

"I really want to see that we can come together and agree upon the notion that Washington doesn't need more revenues right now," Cantor said.

Every time I bring up the fact that Eric Cantor is surprisingly unintelligent, I get pushback, especially from Republicans who insist that Cantor is one of the sharpest GOP minds on Capitol Hill.

But the man has never demonstrated a working knowledge of any area of public policy. Take this quote, just as the latest example among many. Eric Cantor seriously believes that everyone should be able to agree that the federal government "doesn't need more revenues right now."

In what universe does that make sense? The federal government ran a $1.29 trillion deficit last year, and the national debt is well over $13 trillion. We're in the midst of two wars, and have all kinds of costly obligations. No sane person could look at the country's fiscal landscape and conclude that the federal government has plenty of money, and has no need for more.

And yet, Cantor not only argued this on national television, he suggested it's an incontrovertible point.

Steve Benen 10:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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Every time I bring up the fact that Eric Cantor is surprisingly unintelligent, I get pushback, especially from Republicans who insist that Cantor is one of the sharpest GOP minds on Capitol Hill.

These two statements are entirely compatible.

Posted by: Holden Pattern on November 8, 2010 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

There's nothing contradictory about Cantor making ridiculous statements and being intelligent. He's just lying, the way Goopers have been doing for at least the last 30 years, because he doesn't care anything about the country; he just cares about power and transferring as much of the national wealth to the ultra-rich as possible because that's what they pay him for.

Posted by: DavidNOE on November 8, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

I'll back you up on Cantor's lack of intelligence.

I'd never actually seen him live until he was on, um, either The Daily Show or Colbert Report a few weeks ago. Every question asked of him resulted in an attempt to fit a talking point to the question. And it wasn't a modified talking point. He just went back and repeated himself. I was shocked.

Then he was on with Couric on election night. At one point he said that the election was a clear mandate from the American people to repeal the health care bill. She actually stopped him and said, "Wait, according to our exit polls 48% of Americans want it repealed. 47% want it extended. How can you call this a mandate?"

His response was to got to a graphic CBS had just showed that indicated 83% of Republicans wanted it repealed, independents were split, and 11% of Democrats wanted it repealed and say that was an indication of a mandate. Which was completely incorrect.

Although that shows that he is, at least, intelligent enough to pander to his base. The fact that the rest of us can see through it doesn't, in the final equation, matter.

Posted by: Geds on November 8, 2010 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Meg Whitman said the same thing out here in CA while running for governor ("It's not a revenue problem, it's a spending problem").

Starve the beast.

Posted by: BerkeleyMom on November 8, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Could we also point out that Cantor was talking about a govt shutdown WHILE THE PRESIDENT IS OVERSEAS??!!!!!!! I don't give a rats ass who is president - it is pretty tasteless to spew this crap while the POTUS is on a foriegn trip - can you imagine the HOWLS the repubs. would have when a Dem would do that?

Posted by: bigtuna on November 8, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Brings to mind the Jonathan Coulton zombie song "Re: Your Brains" -
"We're at an impasse here/
maybe we should compromise./
If you open up the door/
we'll all come inside/
and eat your brains."

Posted by: ribber on November 8, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

washington doesn't need any more revenues? wtf! even reagan's budget director david stockman knows we need more revenues.

Posted by: just bill on November 8, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Politicians and lawmakers say what they need to say in order to gain or retain power. This has nothing to do with intelligence.

Making the statement that the government doesn't need additional revenues is a political point. It may play well, and actually serve to deny additional revenues to the government, as well as promote the Republican agenda.

Disagreement with one's views is not a sign of lack of intelligence.

Posted by: Larry Chandler on November 8, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

You dont get it. He's not stupid. He's right. We could cut spending through straight cuts and changes to entitlements to eliminate the deficit. That's what he's saying.

Rather than calling him stupid, why not start asking him "How?". Because that's all I heard on this and they never gave any answers. and now they are in office and you're just gonna start calling them dumb?

He simply sees this as a spending problem. Fine. Then start cutting the heck out of everything.

I'm so sick of this fight. No one learns. Let them cut the shit out of everything. Or at least propose something that makes cuts equal to what their goal is. And then explain to people what that really means and then run on that in 2012.

Posted by: Mark on November 8, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

I saw where Carly Fiorina made a similar argument. Asked about Prop 19, she was against it (of course), but her main argument wasn't that cannabis was a bad thing, but that if cannabis was taxed then the state government would have more money, and that would be a bad thing.

I think it must come from the small government ideology, which has become so calcified in these people's brains that they're now convinced that personal freedom is always inversely proportional to the size of government--if the government ever gets bigger, you automatically become less free, and if it ever becomes smaller, you automatically become more free. So less tax revenue = more freedom.

Posted by: Stephen Stralka on November 8, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Your problem comes from your attachment to things being true, i.e., connected to reality. Cantor is a student of Alice's Red Queen, who said "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Cantor wasn't saying that Washington didn't need revenue, he was saying he hoped they could get everyone to come together and agree to the notion that Washington didn't need revenue. That would be hard for Democrats, since it is impossible, but Republicans have no such problem believing in impossible things.

`I ca'n't believe that!' said Alice.

`Ca'n't you?' the Queen said in a pitying tone. `Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.'

Alice laughed. `There's no use trying,' she said `one ca'n't believe impossible things.'

`I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen.

Posted by: biggerbox on November 8, 2010 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Cantor is but one of the Republicans re-defining "compromise" as abject surrender to Republicans:

Eric Cantor (R-Va.) set the stage on Sunday by declaring that any lack of progress in Congress -- including a possible government shutdown -- will be Obama's fault.

"I would say, Chris, it's as much his responsibility," said Cantor in response to a question from Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace about who will be to blame for a government shutdown or a default on the debt. "In fact, he is the one who sets the agenda as the chief executive and as the president of this country."

Cantor also made clear that if there's going to be any compromise, it's going to have to come from Obama, who has said he is willing to work with Republicans. Cantor, however, said that Republicans will work with Obama only if he agrees with them 100 percent.

"Listen, are we willing to work with him?" said Cantor on Sunday. "First and foremost, we're not going to be willing to work with him on the expansive liberal agenda he's been about, but if he is serious about working with us on things like earmarks, for instance -- which he said he would work with me on that -- I'm absolutely hopeful we can do that. I hope he calls Harry Reid the first thing to get the Senate to go along with the House position.

Posted by: El Cid on November 8, 2010 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Don't worry, Cantor isn't dumb. He knows Obama will give in without much of a fight.

Posted by: smskater on November 8, 2010 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

He's saying this not because it's what he thinks, but because it's what he wants other people to think. Specifically, he wants people to think there's no reason to repeal the tax cuts for the wealthy.

Posted by: Christopher on November 8, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Mmaybe some day a lightbulb will flicker on over Cantor's head, and he'll slap his forehead and exclaim, "D'Oh! Deficits are the result of inadequate revenues. I get it now!"

But more likely he'll just go on imagining that the deficits are caused by entitlement spending (Social Security and Medicare) and wasteful discretionary spending on things like the judiciary, securing our borders, roads, bridges, education and the environment. His brilliant insight--perhaps this is why he is considered one of the sharpest GOP minds on Capitol Hill--is that, don't you see?, if Republicans cut those government intrusions into our lives, the deficit problem would be fixed!

Or, even more likely, now that Republicans have regained enormous power throughout the USA, deficits won't matter anymore. All that will matter is tax cuts.

Posted by: PTate in MN on November 8, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

BerkeleyMom, you have stated the entire Rethug strategy perfectly. When able, they spend like drunk sailors enriching the wealthy. When not in power, they claim to hate spending. Both are entirely consistent with their goal.

Note to Obama - LET THE DAMN SHRUB TAX CUTS EXPIRE!!! Tell the stupid electorate over and over and over that it was the Rethugs who insisted in making the expiration part of the law to avoid fiscal accountability and then just move on.

Posted by: Chopin on November 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Chopin: "LET THE DAMN SHRUB TAX CUTS EXPIRE!!!"

I agree. Retaining tax cuts for people who earn less than $250,000 and letting them rise for those who earn more would be the best policy. But since the Republicans will refuse to decouple, it would be better to let the tax cuts lapse on everyone than to retain them for everyone.

Spend the energy attacking the fiscal irresponsibility of the Republicans--who are against deficits in name only.

Posted by: PTate in MN on November 8, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Brings to mind the Jonathan Coulton zombie song "Re: Your Brains" -
"We're at an impasse here/
maybe we should compromise./
If you open up the door/
we'll all come inside/
and eat your brains."

Posted by: ribber on November 8, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

This makes perfect sense from the cuckoo gooper point of view - if the federal government had adequate revenue, they wouldn't be able to talk about killing popular programs because of the deficit.

They just want to starve the beast, not matter what the consequences.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on November 8, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

JUST SAY YES to tax increases for the wealthy

It is a secular sin to own a Armani suit worth a thousand meals when almost 1/3 of Arizona kids live in poverty. Tax the excess wealth of the über rich now.

Republicans destroyed the economy by lax financial regulation coupled with tax cuts for the wealthy which forced great deficits upon the country.  Now they want to give that 5% of the populations which owns 85% of the country's wealth even more money.

The rich have had a free ride since Reagan when the highest tax rates were cut from 70% to 35%.  Now the country and the economy are in trouble. It is time to tax excessive wealth.  It is time the rich pay their fair share. 

There is no reason to give people like Paris Hilton more $10,000 Hermes handbags, music industry execs another $200,000 Ferrari or Real Estate Barons like Donald Trump more $30,000 Rolex watches when people are unemployed, losing their houses, and cannot afford college or health insurance.

Please, tell your elected officials you not only oppose the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, but would like to see the top rate restored to the pre-Reagan level.

I would be mortified to wear a $1000 pair of shoes when people go hungry in Arizona. Tax the excess wealth of the über rich now.  

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on November 8, 2010 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

"I get pushback, especially from Republicans"

They think Cantor is smart because in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.

Posted by: Napoleon on November 8, 2010 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Two ideas come through in the comments that ring true for me. One is, let's not assume people are stupid when they say things that aren't true. More often they are liars, not dopes. And Mark makes the point that we should, basically, call the GOP's bluff. Just tell them, OK, here's our spending plan. Now you cut it to balance the budget without new revenue. Let them do it and let them take the consequences. It will mean a pretty rough patch for the economy and the country in general, but maybe Americans will finally realize how off base these guys are.

Posted by: kw on November 8, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

A strong president would just say NO and would win the fight. I am not sure our President is strong.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 8, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Cantor is either very stupid or very smart...depending upon what his goal is.

Smart if he is trying to decimate the government and democracy...cause more gutting of government will further that cause.

Stupid if he gives a crap about the strength of America and its people...cause this is going to further obliterate the middle class and strengthen the corporate over lords.

Posted by: Evergreen2U on November 8, 2010 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

...but we need two wars!

Posted by: andyvillager on November 8, 2010 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

The Honorable Congressman Cantor is 100% correct! Our federal government does NOT need more revenues. They collect enough taxes already.

All that is required to balance our federal budget is to CUT SPENDING! Naturally, defense spending is off the table. Naturally, the department of homeland security spending is off the table. We could easily balance the budget if we would take the hard, but necessary steps of eliminating federal subsidies of education, eliminating federal subsidies of states, eliminating federal subsidies of the unemployed, eliminate medicare, medicaid, and the veterans administration, and cut social security payments in half!

See, that is not so hard! Stop funding the unemployed, workers, and retired workers and all of our problems are solved. Naturally, we need to reduce taxes on the wealthy so that they will lead us back to prosperity.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on November 8, 2010 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

RepublicanPointOfView: "Stop funding the unemployed, workers, and retired workers and all of our problems are solved. Naturally, we need to reduce taxes on the wealthy so that they will lead us back to prosperity."

The thing that is so sad about your parody is that it is EXACTLY how conservatives reason. You only left off the children. Cutting off healthcare, food subsidies and education for children is what a strong Republican, such as Tim Pawlenty, argue is necessary to protect the wealthy.

Posted by: PTate in MN on November 8, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

re:RepublicanPointOfView - exactly!!

let's require them to spell this out and then run a presidential candidate on it!

Posted by: Mark on November 8, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Given the substandard level of today's republicans, the statement "one of the sharpest GOP minds" is more a long the lines of the saying, "dumber than a sack of broken hammers."

Posted by: Silver Owl on November 8, 2010 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry for overlooking the children in my parody!

Of course, our next republican presidential candidate will assure you that they will tell you what their policies will be AFTER they are elected.

Policies! We don't need no stinking policies! We have the wealthy to buy us elections.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on November 8, 2010 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

This is gonna be a lot of fun.)-:

Posted by: Jamie on November 8, 2010 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans who insist that Cantor is one of the sharpest GOP minds on Capitol Hill. . .

a. I don't doubt it.

b. He's an idiot.

I think we can agree that if government doesn't need more revenues now --it never will.

Posted by: cld on November 8, 2010 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Just let them run out.

Posted by: imeyouweus on November 8, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Steve,

Isn't it possible that Cantor is surprisingly unintelligent AND still one of the sharpest GOP minds on Capitol Hill? They're not necessarily mutually exclusive. After all, "One of the sharpest GOP minds" is a relative measure and an exceptionally low bar.

No?

Bob

Posted by: Bob on November 8, 2010 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Spot on Bob.

Posted by: angryspittle on November 8, 2010 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Eric Cantor believes that every dollar of revenue the Federal Government receives it uses to spend a $1.50. Thus more revenue simply means more deficit spending.

After all, this is the way the Republicans governed...

Posted by: Lance on November 8, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'd have to say you're both right, Steve.

He's "Surprisingly unintelligent" *and* "one of the sharpest GOP minds on Capitol Hill".

Posted by: Eric Faulkner on November 8, 2010 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, Cantor could be the sharpest GOP mind of all on Capitol Hill and you'd still be right, except maybe for the "surprisingly," at this late date.

Posted by: Jack on November 8, 2010 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

"In what universe does that make sense?"

In the universe where the snake on the Gadsden Flag is not a rattlesnake but a boa constrictor. Squeeze until the victim weakens a bit, then constrict some more, making that the new normal. Continue until the victim blacks out from lack of oxygen. Then destroy the victim.

Posted by: Seould on November 8, 2010 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

What would happen to the deficit if we returned to the tax structure of Eisenhower?

Posted by: Seould on November 8, 2010 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

Yes but look at where he is making those comments...FOX...where he knows he will get no push back. Americans have begun hating each other in large numbers now because of FOX and the staggering number of hate radio shows...who propose no solutions and emphatically fill the public with misinformation and propaganda on a daily basis.

2nd amendment remedies won't be aimed at the government, it will be aimed at each other as the corporatocracy turns this democracy into a plutocracy.

What repubs want to do to Medicare alone will weaken Medicare and increase the deficit with the affordable care act remedies they propose but the private ins. companies will be lining their pockets with revenue that should be going to we the people's government to lower health care costs.

These tea party activists are duped daily by these goobers who have no business in government because they are too stupid to find solutions, especially when they refuse to compromise which is at the heart of a democracy.

Boehner keeps saying "the American People" as if it refers to all Americans. Nobody paying attention wants what he and Cantor are selling they just want government to pay attention. I want to ask every republican voter how that "no compromisey" thing is working out for them as we witness our nation collapsing again, only deeper, as these proven wrong policies send the nation spiraling into another republican great depression. They have been proven wrong on all their policies but FOX keeps them filled with misinformation, fear, anger and divisiness as they cultivate ignorance on a daily basis.

FOX is the only political education low information voters are exposed too. At this point lining up every FOX employee against a wall and shooting them would not begin to alleviate the damage they've caused America...but it's a good start. Cantor is an idiot and too dumb to be embarrassed by his idiocy.

Posted by: bjobotts on November 8, 2010 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK
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