Political Animal


August 22, 2011 12:35 PM Cantor puts his confusion in writing

By Steve Benen

Because House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will play a leading role in blocking all job-creation measures in Congress, it’s important to appreciate how he approaches economic policy. Here he is, for example, making his case in a Washington Post op-ed today.

[T]he Obama administration’s anti-business, hyper-regulatory, pro-tax agenda has fueled economic uncertainty and sent the message from the administration that “we want to make it harder to create jobs.” There is no other conclusion….

Cantor, of course, made up that quote, as part of a ridiculous argument. In effect, the dimwitted Majority Leader — who opposes job-creation measures he used to support, and has vowed to kill any proposal to boost the economy — believes the White House is deliberately against lowering unemployment. Given the frequency with which the Republican “sabotage” question comes up, Cantor’s attack is as ironic as it absurd.

The op-ed went on to say:

Unfortunately, we have found President Obama to be an unwilling partner when it comes to getting America’s fiscal house in order. Since taking office, he has added trillions to the debt, ignored the recommendations of his own fiscal commission and put forth a budget that failed to address the drivers of our debt. Then we had to drag him to the table to make even the modest spending cuts that Standard & Poor’s says don’t go far enough.

Who’s an “unwilling partner” on fiscal issues? If memory serves, it was just a month ago that President Obama, much to the dismay of his own party, was willing to make sweeping entitlement changes as part of a package of $4 trillion in debt reduction. And it was Cantor and his GOP allies who refused to even consider the offer.

As for Standard & Poor’s, Cantor said our “nation’s credit downgrade” came as a result of a large debt. Maybe Cantor hasn’t read the S&P analyses yet — he’s not much of a reader — but he should probably take the time to learn what he’s talking about before writing an op-ed for a major newspaper.

The ratings agency hasn’t exactly kept the reasoning secret: congressional Republican expressed skepticism about the serious consequences of a credit default; they undermined confidence in the American political system; refused to compromise; they ruled out additional revenue; and they deliberately played a radical game with the full faith and credit of the United States. S&P didn’t leave much doubt about which side of the aisle the agency considers responsible.

This isn’t ancient history. This just happened and should still be fresh in everyone’s memory. For Cantor to blame Obama for Republicans’ borderline-criminal misconduct, hoping that we won’t remember the events of July and August, is pathetic.

I’d also note that Cantor’s piece repeatedly referenced tax increases as part of that rascally president’s agenda. It’s worth realizing that (a) Obama has cut taxes repeatedly; (b) Obama even agreed to keep Bush’s failed tax policies in place beyond their expiration date; and (c) the only folks who actively want to raise taxes immediately are congressional Republicans.

Cantor may find reality inconvenient, but that’s no excuse for pretending it doesn’t exist.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • slappy magoo on August 22, 2011 12:40 PM:

    Republican claims about Obama don't have to be true, they don't have to be proven, they just need to be made, and the media does the rest.

    It's all part of a larger narrative, driven to make people, especially Dems, stay home on Election Day. The GOP isn't trying to make believe their line of horse crap, just give them enough doubt that they won't know who to trust and not vote. That's how they'll win this time, because it sure as hell won't be on the issues.

  • Anonymous on August 22, 2011 12:55 PM:

    Dean Baker has fun with Cantor from an economist's perspective:

  • June on August 22, 2011 12:56 PM:

    Well said, Slappy Magoo. I still remember reading in early 2010 that Frank Luntz, consigliere supremo to the GOP, essentially told them they had nothing left to run on but lies. They took him at his word, and it worked.

  • g on August 22, 2011 12:59 PM:

    Then we had to drag him to the table

    Didn't Cantor walk out of the talks?

  • JMG on August 22, 2011 1:03 PM:

    Why the Post, and all the other newspapers that do it, which is all of them, give op-ed space for politicians of all parties to repeat the damn lies they are quoted as spouting off in the news pages escapes me. Journalism's motto used to be "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." Now it's the reverse.

  • c u n d gulag on August 22, 2011 1:06 PM:

    Cantor can say whatever the f*ck he wants to say!

    When no one calls you on it, you double donw and keep lying!!

    Why the f*ckin not?

    Sh*t's worked for the for decades.


  • Mark on August 22, 2011 1:12 PM:

    Paul Ryan and other Republicans have said they prefer permanent cuts to tax rates instead of the temporary payroll tax rebates that Obama prefers. To say that them wanting one kind of tax cut instead of another kind of tax cut means they want tax increases is being a little disingenuous, Mr. Benen.

  • Gandalf on August 22, 2011 1:13 PM:

    Could someone please ask these poor assholes just which regulations that they're always bitching about are killing jobs? Is it the one that keeps heavy metals out of childrens toys or perhaps the ones that keep the air clean.

  • Kathryn on August 22, 2011 1:13 PM:

    Do politicians get free rein when submitting opeds to major newspapers, facts be damned? This oped is even more ridiculous than most of the crap submitted by GOP elected liars. The night of the vote on the debt ceiling, I was with friends at a Thai restaurant in Arlington, Va. and shortly after vote in walked Cantor and three men. His daughters were there and later a woman who may have been his wife. I would never verbally accost anyone when their children are present but man would I like another shot at this lying sack, his audacity to lie and distort are world class. Nothing else about him is world class, what a evil snake.

  • Jamie on August 22, 2011 1:19 PM:

    Steve, you may want to edit that last paragraph, it doesn't make any sense right now.

  • Josef K on August 22, 2011 1:20 PM:

    itís important to appreciate how he approaches economic policy.

    Perhaps he isn't a dolt, at least not entirely. Perhaps its all a conscious choice on his part.

    Consider: its now abundantly clear the lunatics and know-nothings are actually driving the GOP's agenda. Both its corporate backers and crypto-christian hucksters have shown little if any actual influence with them, otherwise the whole tragic-comic debt ceiling silliness might not have dragged on as long as it did.

    Cantor, however dense and unenlightened, surely has enough sense of political self-preservation to realize he needs to stay with the pack in order to keep from being mauled. The fact doing so and not bringing the likes of Bachmann, Kyl, De Mint and the rest to heel leaves a constant risk of their creating an economic disaster for the country...probably doesn't worry him in the slightest. This is a guy whose stock portfolio is arranged so any short sales of Treasury Bonds will given him a nice windfall, and that's atop any other nesteggs he's already got.

    What worries me most just now is that he and the rest of the GOP leadership don't appear to be thinking very far ahead. I'll wager it hasn't occurred to them that a very public, very explosive backlash against them is all too plausible. There's plenty of precedent in our own history, and plenty more across world history. France after all went from being a stable monarchy that lasted nearly 1,400 years to absolute (and seriously anti-monarchist) chaos virtually overnight.

    But as I've said several times, the main reason the GOP is so willing to pursue in this destructive ideology of their's is that they themselves won't feel the painful effects of it. The same is rather true for the Democrats, or at least its leadership and senior members. Calling DC a modern Versailles is entirely, worryingly accurate. There's no guarantee however that this will continue to be the case, something our elected leaders don't seem to appreciate or even realize.

    Interesting times are afoot, and like it or not, Eric Cantor is one of the one's beckoning them on.

  • jjm on August 22, 2011 1:23 PM:

    Think Goebbels when you see the G in GOP.

    They have SO much faith in the Big Lie that it is getting more than just creepy.

    It smacks of political insanity.

  • dj spellchecka on August 22, 2011 1:25 PM:

    he's not confused he's lying, and the wapo doesn't give a sh*t. they'll print anything they like to hear without a pesky fact-check..."our liberal media," indeed

  • doubtful on August 22, 2011 1:26 PM:

    I wish Obama was even a tenth of the politician Republicans claim he is.

  • sparrow on August 22, 2011 1:28 PM:

    There's no pretending. Outright lying is all part of the Republican game plan. Until a good portion of the main stream press finally takes their job seriously and actually yanks his leash by pointing out the facts rather than acting as stenographers, he will keep spouting the same approved talking points hoping that unending repetition will finally gain a foothold in the public's mind as the truth. Even then, the that may not deter him. Figuratively speaking, these guys are l like the living dead, pretty difficult do in.

  • DAY on August 22, 2011 1:33 PM:

    slappy magoo is right. Low voter turn out is always in play.

  • Anonymous on August 22, 2011 1:45 PM:

    As a democrat, the really depressing question is, why do we keep losing to these guys?

  • linus bern on August 22, 2011 1:50 PM:

    You missed one.

    "ignored the recommendations of his own fiscal commission" The fiscal commission was unable to come up with enough of a concensus to even be able to make a recommendation.

  • Varecia on August 22, 2011 2:05 PM:

    Anonymous, the reason is that they are fanatics with no sense of limits and no sense of fatigue. Ever. So until we rise up with at least equal force things will remain as they are.
    I received an email about Contract For The American Dream, which may or may not be what's needed, but I was nevertheless very heartened to at least see the left coalescing in some way, shape and form. Check out their website and sign the contract, print off and display the logos and signs, and start plastering the country with our presence.

  • Jim Pharo on August 22, 2011 2:10 PM:

    It's almost cute how people on our side seem to think that things like facts or logic are relevant to elections. They are not. The GOP has long known this. In fact, it is a key part of their program: if they were telling the truth about their goals, they'd garner precious few votes.

    If BHO wins, it will be because the enough of the electorate rejects the charges that he is incompetent or not up to the task, and buys the argument that the GOP nominee is borderline deranged and risky. Who stood for which tax cut when will be so much noise (as it is right now outside of the professional political classes).

  • SadOldVet on August 22, 2011 2:21 PM:

    What the f*ck does having any idea what you are talking about have to do with getting op-ed pieces published in the liberal media?

    George Will & Chuckie Krauthammer get published all the time! Indeed! Today's liberal Washington Post had op-eds by George Will, Marc Thiessen, and Robert Samuelson, as well as Cantor!

  • Anonymous on August 22, 2011 2:25 PM:

    Cantor: "Unfortunately, we have found President Obama to be an unwilling partner when it comes to getting Americaís fiscal house in order."

    Yes, it's true. The President will not willingly self-destruct, forcing Cantor's GOP to destroy the entire economy and them dream up a way to blame Obama.

  • Sam Simple on August 22, 2011 2:39 PM:

    Cantor is a liar and a hypocrite - a Pharisee, to use the New Testament's phraseology. Christ called Pharisees "snakes and vipers".

  • clevergirl on August 22, 2011 2:53 PM:

    Anytime Can'tor and his goons start complaining about someone, just change all the third person references to the first person and you have them dead to rights.

  • Mark on August 22, 2011 3:31 PM:

    It's nice that Benen has such uncritical followers who will swallow anything he says without doing any independent checking anywhere else on the internet. You all don't want to burst your little liberal fantasy bubble, do you?

  • kevo on August 22, 2011 4:26 PM:

    I don't know, maybe Mark Halperin's recent observation about our duly elected president is appropriate here:

    Cantor, he's acting like a dick! -Kevo

  • Doug on August 22, 2011 10:02 PM:

    "...will swallow anything he says without doing any independent checking anywhere else on the internet." Mark @ 3:31 PM

    I see you waited until school was out before posting, that's good. How was dodge ball? And lunch?
    Now, as to your remark cited above, you haven't provided any, well, you know, FACTS to support that claim, so I'll just have to presume you flunked ANOTHER pop quiz and had to take it out on SOMEONE. That' what we're here for. NOT! Provide facts and/or links to FACTS and I'll quit treating you as if you ARE the juvenile your actions depict you to be.
    Consider it "extra credit"...

  • Mark on August 23, 2011 1:17 PM:

    The attempts at sarcasm are pretty feeble. Did you read the whole comment thread? If you haven't, please see my coment at 1:12. Then see Paul Ryan: Payroll tax cuts nothing but 'sugar high' By Bernie Becker - 06/16/11 at "The Hill". Benen interprets Ryan's position as "wanting tax increases"! I'm curious. Do you ever read anyone you don't already agree with? Have you ever ever read any Austrian economists like Mises, Hayek or Rothbard? Are you even aware they exist? Or do you get your knowledge of economics from people like Benen or, shudder, Paul Krugman?

  • Fabio on August 24, 2011 12:18 PM:

    Mark,you seem naive to believe that Ryan's comments are anything but hot air. It just suits him to say this, "another bad idea by Obama", not because it's true. He doesn't care about the USA, he doesn't care about the american people. He wants to eliminate everything that is dear to the middle-class and below. How can he say, "we have to stick with what we know works", and brings Bush's policy as an example = FAIL. BTW Which tax code policy has EVER been permanent? When the USA decides it has to change the tax rates, the tax rates will be changed / if the USA decides the temporary tax policy has to be extended, the temp policy will be extended. Permanent/temporary that's not the problem. And I really don't understand the problem some people seem to have with Krugman. Most of what he said, happened. They don't give Nobel-Prizes in economics to idiots. But a lot of idiots get columns in papers.