Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 25, 2011

WHEN CANTOR DELIBERATELY OPPOSES JOB GROWTH.... To appreciate just how confused House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) really is, consider his approach to the high-speed rail project in his home town of Richmond.

In early 2009, Cantor, then the Minority Whip, noticed that the Recovery Act included funding for a variety of high-speed rail projects, and publicly mocked the idea. He not only considered the infrastructure investments unnecessary, he even rejected the very idea that government spending could create jobs and generate economic growth.

A month later, Cantor changed direction -- because the investment would help his constituents directly. The Republican congressman said high-speed rail in Richmond would spur economic development and create as many as 185,000 jobs in the area. "If there is one thing that I think all of us here on both sides of the political aisle from all parts of the region agree with, it's that we need to do all we can to promote jobs here in the Richmond area," Cantor said at the time.

This week, Cantor changed direction again, and no longer supports the rail project he heralded in April 2009.

[H]e can't support projects like this anymore.

"We are in times that we need to go about shrinking the size of government, getting of rid of everything but absolute priority spending," Cantor acknowledged at a press stakeout Tuesday morning. "I've already come out and said I would be in support of cutting that spending at this time."

This is stuff Democrats like, the Chamber of Commerce likes, labor unions like, environmentalists like, and, once upon a time, "national greatness" Republicans liked. But genuflecting to their conservative base has become a higher priority for Republicans than supporting job-creating programs they once supported.

This really is remarkable. Eric Cantor has said the high-speed rail project in his own district would spur economic growth and create thousands of jobs, but he's now against those priorities. The economy is nice, he argued this morning, but it's not as important as some ideological goal about the "size of government." Cantor knows the investments will create jobs, and he simply doesn't care.

The importance of this example is that it takes the argument out of the abstract -- it's a simple either/or proposition. On the one hand, we have a transportation project that's good for the economy and helps Cantor's own constituents. On the other hand, we have some amorphous ideological axe to grind. As far as Cantor is concerned, the latter is more important than the former.

The lesson for Americans couldn't be any clearer: jobs and the economy simply aren't Republicans' priority anymore.

Steve Benen 1:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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Comments

American voters would do well in the next election cycle to disregard party affiliations, and instead, focus on electing the best and the brightest to get us out of this mess made by the likes of Cantor and his cohorts! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 25, 2011 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

As a native Richmonder now living less than an hour away, I can attest that Richmond has zero - zero - need for a high speed rail of any sort.

Posted by: Schlocky Balboa on January 25, 2011 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

"The lesson for Americans couldn't be any clearer: jobs and the economy simply aren't Republicans' priority anymore."

Strike the anymore and you have it right.

"Small government" is nothing but a religion. No one can explain why it matters or who it helps. It's simply meant to be taken as an article of faith. It is literally a religion.

Posted by: Steve Simitzis on January 25, 2011 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

He was against it before he was for it before he was against it.

Posted by: art hackett on January 25, 2011 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

I can attest that Richmond has zero - zero - need for a high speed rail of any sort.
Posted by: Schlocky Balboa

I don't know how anyone could say this. Whenever I visit Japan I am amazed at how easy rail transportation is. High speed- I mean really high speed - trains every few minutes. It makes so much more sense than driving or flying to many destinations.

Canada is at least as bad as US with respect to supporting high-speed rail. It is so pathetically shortsighted. Perhaps elected reps should all be given trips to China/Japan so they can see how great it is to have govt that invests in useful infrastructure.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on January 25, 2011 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Steve: "The economy is nice, he argued this morning, but it's not as important as some ideological goal about the 'size of government.' "

I want to disagree with Steve a little. "Small government" is their slogan, but it's not their ideology.

They don't believe in small government. They just believe in small government for small people. The big wigs get all the government they want.

Notice Republicans don't seek to cut spending where there's low hanging fruit like corporate subsidies or military waste. Notice that they don't want the government to be able to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to reduce government spending.

The list of big-government projects, waste, and spending that the "small government" conservatives support is seemingly endless, and somebody should call them out on this "we believe in small government" bullshit. They don't.

Posted by: Chris on January 25, 2011 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

This guy is one shameless pencil-necked geek.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 25, 2011 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

So is the new republican brand, "Conservatives are dumber than sack of crushed rock?" 'Cause it sure is looking like they love the dumb for themselves.

Posted by: Silver Owl on January 25, 2011 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

As someone who has lived in Richmond, I can attest that I would use high speed rail from and to Richmond often (especially if it went to Washington and New York), and that if rail were available, Richmond and the surrounding areas would benefit greatly.

Posted by: sapient on January 25, 2011 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

"As a native Richmonder now living less than an hour away, I can attest that Richmond has zero - zero - need for a high speed rail of any sort."

How often do you drive north to D.C. on I-95?

Posted by: Virginia on January 25, 2011 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

So how many Richmond voters will remember who axed tens of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars for the local economy come the next election? That will tell the tale more than anything.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on January 25, 2011 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

This is all so tiresome. Cantor doesn't really oppose HSR; he wants to look like he's standing up against government spending. I'll bet my bottom dollar he is quietly supporting the project and any effort to actually defund it would be derailed (ha!).

I wish the GOP (and, sometimes the Dems - see reform, filibuster) would be held accountable for their public posturing. It's all appearances, all the time with this crowd.

Cantor's as fake as a $3 bill.

Posted by: danimal on January 25, 2011 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Against, then for, and then against, how else can anyone manage to stay a know nothing Republican.

Cantor may be afraid, if there was a high speed rail service between D C and Richmond, he may have to use this service like common folk.

"Cantor's as fake as a $3 bill - well stated danimal.

Posted by: Ted 76 on January 25, 2011 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

How often do you drive north to D.C. on I-95?

Not that often. Most people living in Richmond work in Richmond. I don't know many who would need to use a high-speed rail.

Besides, DC already has a Metro and MARC service. Is a third rail option, pardon the pun, really necessary?

and that if rail were available, Richmond and the surrounding areas would benefit greatly.

How so?

Posted by: Schlocky Balboa on January 25, 2011 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

It's that typical right wing: I-got-my-government-money-now-YOU-can-go-eat-shit position.

Posted by: digitusmedius on January 25, 2011 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

On the general subject of the value of high-speed rail projects, the real point is not about any single regional project but that each regional project forms the first links in what can and should become a nationwide high-speed rail system covering as much of the nation as feasible.

Why? Our highway system is becoming increasingly overburdened as it is, and available land for expansion is increasingly scarce. Air travel is becoming increasingly problematic as carriers cut back services to maintain profit margins.

Pound for pound, rail is the most cost effective and environmentally sound method of moving people and goods ever invented. It will take years to realize a fully functioning nationwide system, but we have to start sometime and the sooner the better IMHO.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on January 25, 2011 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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