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October 04, 2011 8:00 AM Cantor to Obama: Let the economy suffer

By Steve Benen

For several weeks, the White House has maintained that the American Jobs Act had a legitimate shot in Congress. It’s a good plan, which includes ideas from both parties, and which has drawn praise from economists from across the spectrum. Its provisions are broadly popular, and with some public pressure, President Obama believes lawmakers could be pressed to do the right thing.

And while, under normal circumstances, this is exactly the kind of jobs bill that a Congress and a White House would work together to pass, the fantasy came to a rather abrupt halt yesterday afternoon.

In the morning, the president told reporters before a cabinet meeting that he’d like to see the House and Senate vote on the American Jobs Act before the end of October. “If there are aspects of the bill [Republicans] don’t like,” Obama said, “they should tell us what it is that they’re not willing to go for.”

Soon after, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters that congressional Republicans aren’t willing to go for much of anything.

Cantor said the House would not bring up the president’s American Jobs Act for a vote as a whole, but by the end of the month would move forward with elements supported by GOP leaders, including three pending trade agreements and a reduction in the withholding tax for businesses.

“The president continues to say, ‘Pass my bill in its entirety.’ As I’ve said from the outset, the all-or-nothing approach is just unacceptable,” Cantor told reporters Monday in his weekly Capitol briefing. […]

Asked directly if the bill was dead as a comprehensive package, Cantor replied, “Yes.”

It’s not just that Cantor is opposed to considering the jobs bill in its entirety and prefers a more piecemeal approach; it’s that the oft-confused Majority Leader has decided there are only two ideas House Republicans are even willing to consider. The first is a set of modest trade bills, which may not pass anyway, and the second is a cut to a 3% withholding tax that Republicans were responsible for creating in the first place.

That’s it. That’s what Cantor’s right-wing caucus is open to considering. Investments in infrastructure? No. Funds to save teachers’ and first responders’ jobs? No. Tax breaks for businesses? No. Tax breaks for the middle class? Probably no.

In other words, in response to President Obama’s ambitious plan to boost the economy and create jobs, Eric Cantor has decided House Republicans don’t want to boost the economy and won’t help create jobs.

Cantor’s comments come two weeks after he and other GOP leaders pleaded with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke not to take any additional steps to improve economic conditions.

It’s almost as if congressional Republicans are deliberately trying to hold the economy back, in the hopes that weaker growth and high unemployment would improve their electoral prospects. Perhaps it’s a question worth debating.

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.

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  • c u n d gulag on October 04, 2011 8:07 AM:

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again - Obama needs to start saying that President Truman was lucky because he only had a "Do Nothing" Congress.

    And he's got to deal with Republicans determined to "Make it Worse on Purpose" in Congress.

    The driver can't move the car forward when one of the other the front seat passengers keeps his foot on the brake.

  • just bill on October 04, 2011 8:08 AM:

    f**k you eric cantor. and the tea party horse you rode in on.

  • Live Free or Die on October 04, 2011 8:09 AM:

    @ Steve B:

    "Itís almost as if congressional Republicans are deliberately trying to hold the economy back, in the hopes that weaker growth and high unemployment would improve their electoral prospects. Perhaps itís a question worth debating."

    Its as almost if?? Steve come on. This is another thing that drives me crazy about liberal. If Dems were pulling the same stunts as the GOP was, then 8 months ago the conservatives would have been screaming at the top of thier lungs about it, not tiptoeing around it the way liberals do. Steve, I will help you out. The GOP want the ecomonomy to tank further the worst the economy is doing the better it will be for them. Why is this so hard to say? An another note:

    As one of the black readers of this blog, I would like to comment on the whole Niggerhead controversy. First, to my white liberal brothers and sisters who insist that it is not a big deal and that it is a distraction from talking about his record, I disagree. The Niggerhead thing is actually a big thing. It shows me that my governor is a racist. I mean if using the word nigger does not make you a racist, what do you have to do? When Cain pointed it out, I knew he was in for a world of hurt. I do not know when this happened, but apparently it is worse to complain about someone calling you a Nigger, than to actually call someone a nigger. Weirdly, throwing that race card does not have an analog. If the property had instead been called Kikehead, nobody would be saying Jews were throwing the anti-Semitic card for complaining.
    I work in corporate America. I have seen discrimination and sexism up close. However, the fastest way to destroy your career in corporate America is pointing it out. The right has done a great job of stigmatizing the words racist and racism.
    Now back to Perry. This incident will only help him with his base.

  • DAY on October 04, 2011 8:12 AM:

    And, according to the latest polls, the Great American Moron has Cantor's back. They are fully invested in the Free Lunch Myth-as the song says, "Money for nothin', and the chicks for free."
    Dire Straits, indeed.

  • POed Lib on October 04, 2011 8:15 AM:

    I'm with Live Free or Die. How oblivious are you, Steve, to say "It's almost as if". The Repukeliscum have ripped the mask off months ago. They are doing WHATEVER it takes to deny Obama's second term, including destroy the economy.

  • AngryOldVet on October 04, 2011 8:18 AM:

    It's almost as if congressional Republicans are deliberately trying to hold the economy back, in the hopes that weaker growth and high unemployment would improve their electoral prospects. Perhaps it's a question worth debating.

    And, on a par with subjects that are open for debate:
    - Does the sun rise in the east?
    - Are the oceans filled with water?
    - Is the peak of Mount Everest at a higher elevation than the Mojave Desert?

    Awaken Mr. Benen... There ain't no almost in the congressional repukes are trying to prevent the economy from recovering!

  • candideinnc on October 04, 2011 8:19 AM:

    What is missing in this contest to save America is outrage. The American people are outraged that the situation is not being addressed, but they are blind to who is responsible for the inaction.

    Obama needs to show anger. When he demonstrates the same frustration with Thug obstructionism as the protesters in New York and the people on the left who actually pay attention to these political games, he may be able to win over the votes on his jobs act. If he keeps on with his controlled demeanor, acting reasonably and with consideration, the know-nothing public will totally miss what is happening in our body politic. Passionate anger...now or never.

  • stormskies on October 04, 2011 8:20 AM:

    Itís almost as if congressional Republicans are deliberately trying to hold the economy back, in the hopes that weaker growth and high unemployment would improve their electoral prospects. Perhaps itís a question worth debating

    ******************

    It's not a matter of debate. It is what they are doing. What is worth debating is exactly how this plan of theirs is supposed to be 'rewarded' by Americans voting for them. Think about that: Americans being aware that this is exactly what they are doing, purposefully destroying our country in order win in the elections, and American then voting for this. It's as if the typically stupid American is saying yes go right ahead and destroy anything that will actually benefit this country and myself and, 'you betcha', you get my vote.

    Only in America.

  • Anonymous on October 04, 2011 8:21 AM:

    @ Steve B:

    "Itís not just that Cantor is opposed to considering the jobs bill in its entirety and prefers a more piecemeal approach; itís that the oft-confused Majority Leader has decided there are only two ideas House Republicans are even willing to consider. "

    Eric Cantor is not confused Steve. He knows exactly what he is doing. He has access to the brightest economists. He knows more about government than we do. Eric Cantor lies. He is not confused. Those are two different things.

  • filkertom on October 04, 2011 8:22 AM:

    Ummm... guys, complete agreement with every sentiment here, except... I'm pretty darn sure that Steve is going for black-comedy understatement here. It's not as if he hasn't reported many times over the past year that the Repubs are deliberately sabotaging the country to get their way. Perhaps it would be a little clearer if he preceded that last graf with "Why, goodness gracious -- heavens to Betsy!" and followed it with "But that couldn't possibly be the case. Just ask 'em. Oh."

  • walt on October 04, 2011 8:24 AM:

    I suppose there's some convention of civility that prevents us from speculating about the motives of our political opponents. Yet as Live Free or Die notes, they themselves are hardly so constrained. It's one reason why they keep winning and we keep losing.

    I don't mean to jump on Steve or the sundry other liberals who undercut their core arguments with admirable but inappropriate humility. If we can't do something unkind because of our moral vanity, we must do it anyway for the sake of those people whose lives will be devastated by right-wing nihilism. In other words, we might still lose but at least we'll lose fighting.

  • suequeue on October 04, 2011 8:26 AM:

    I'm also with Live Free or Die. OF COURSE "Republicans are deliberately trying to hold the economy back, in the hopes that weaker growth and high unemployment would improve their electoral prospects."

    It's been almost a year since Mitch McConnell said, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." I couldn't believe it when he actually came out and said that, but everything the Republicans have done since then support the premise that the GOP would rather destroy the economy and destroy this country than do anything that would make Obama look good or improve his chances of re-election.

  • Anonymous on October 04, 2011 8:29 AM:

    @Live Free or Die: I don't see anyone saying that Niggerhead is not a big deal. It is definitely a big deal, as it again has ripped the mask off the South and also the Repukeliscum Party. In the South, as many have noted, this kind of thing is considered "cute" and "a backhanded swipe at them college libruls". It's the goodolboy rural shit. I'm sure also that they have a huge stash of the American nazi flag, the starsnbars, there too. Nobody I know considers it a little matter. It's a big deal.

  • lou on October 04, 2011 8:34 AM:

    There are precedents to sabotage for gaining one party rule. Weimar Republic? Bring on the depression! Not an unimaginable permutation on a collapsable scenario.

  • Live Free or Die on October 04, 2011 8:36 AM:

    @ steve b:

    All I am saying is that politics over the past decade has changed drastically. This is a fucking war, but Democrats are still treating it as a debating society.

  • j on October 04, 2011 8:40 AM:

    So, did Cantor take over Boehner's job?
    I hope the protesters come to Washington to protest Cantor and wipe the smile off his smarmy face.

  • Stevio on October 04, 2011 8:42 AM:

    It's almost as if congressional Republicans are deliberately trying to hold the economy back, in the hopes that weaker growth and high unemployment would improve their electoral prospects. Perhaps it's a question worth debating.

    Treason. Pure and simple. If the shoe was on the other foot, the GOP would be raging and screaming, Traitor! Why the hell isn't this POTUS doing the same? I'd call them on this. He's going to labeled Tax and Spend no matter what. Go for it Obama or lose what is left of your base. I am sure we were lied to by this guy two years ago. These GOP bastards are laughing to his face with copious amounts of disrespect. What the hell is he waiting for? A shellacking at the polls? He's going to have that for sure unless he gets some major balls.

    This is just way to frustrating. No balls Obama. The one term disappointment with the gift that keeps on giving: Hand wrangling.

    One would have to wonder what Hillary would be doing to these treasonous GOP? My guess is that the "Big Dog" would be out there giving them hell while Hillary sternly took them to the wood shed. This Obama undoubtedly wan't ready to be the POTUS. sad, sad days...

  • martin on October 04, 2011 8:51 AM:

    Cantor has just sent Obama a slow straight pitch. If Obama and the Dems can't knock this out or the park they don't even deserve to be in the game.

  • Peter Pitchford on October 04, 2011 9:09 AM:

    The Republicans first priority is to facilitate more and more condensation of wealth in the already wealthy. In other words, its blatant class warfare. The inevitable side effect is that liquidity is drained from the middle class, and the economy as a whole. The fact that they can politicize peoples suffering is just another side effect, the icing on the cake. They would like you to think that the motivation behind their lunacy is to effect Obama's popularity, because then you are distracting people from the real, original reason that the economy has tanked and is not recovering, the greed and the ongoing, wholesale theft.

  • Robert on October 04, 2011 9:20 AM:

    Every one in the Congress should re-read their oath of office. I believe the oath points out explicitly that by intentionally letting our country tank over personal or ideological beliefs are truly illegal. I don't like to throw around certain tags, but sedition, and treason are the key planks in the GOP platform. The statements by Cantor and others are proof enough that their intentions are less than honorable.

  • RepublicanPointOfView on October 04, 2011 9:41 AM:

    re Robert...

    Duty and honor are vastly over-rated words that are reserved for usage only when we wealthy republicans coerce your children into going to war for our corporate way of life!

    When you are at war with the greatest enemy ever faced by the United States, all rules can be ignored. As we know, the greatest enemy ever faced by OUR country was not Hitler nor Stalin nor Mao, but is the black, socialist Kenyan now usurping the White House.

    Honor is winning and gaining power. Therefore, we republicans are honorable in what we do!

  • delNorte on October 04, 2011 9:53 AM:

    I hope the protesters come to Washington to protest Cantor and wipe the smile off his smarmy face.

    I'm beginning to think this is the only thing that will get "Washington"'s attention - I like what's happening in NYC, but I'd like to see it moved to DC - set up a Hooverville (only call it Boehnerville) on the National Mall and see if anyone really gives a damn.

  • jjm on October 04, 2011 9:54 AM:

    I felt moved to comment on your "Itís almost as if congressional Republicans are deliberately trying to hold the economy back,..." but so many others have I don't need to. It's got to be said in boldface over and over again before the people begin to realize it.

  • jcricket on October 04, 2011 10:24 AM:

    Shorter Eric Cantor: "Let them eat cake!"

  • ex-curm on October 04, 2011 10:48 AM:

    A Monday October 3rd Reuters story shows the jobs bill is not doing well in the Democratic controlled Senate either:

    Prospects for passage in the Senate appeared doubtful as most legislation needs support from both parties in order to advance. All but a handful of Republicans will vote against it, according to a Republican aide, and several Democrats are likely to oppose it as well.

    Moderate Democrats in the Senate have objected to some of the tax increases Obama has proposed to pay for the bill.

    "Nobody is all that excited about the president's jobs bill," a senior Democratic aide said

  • latim on October 04, 2011 11:07 AM:

    Steve, Steve, Steve......you can stop with the 'almost if' in the sentence about Republican's intentionally making the economy worse just so they can win the next election......they are doing it....just say it straight forward without reservation....they want to heap as much pain on to America as they possibly can and then blame it all on President Obama......it is blatant....it is obvious....

    Just state it as fact


    ..............because it is


  • Schtick on October 04, 2011 11:09 AM:

    Robert on October 04, 2011 9:20 AM:

    I've been saying that pledge the tealiban took should be grounds for impeachment and/or treason and asking if the oath doesn't mean anything, why take it? I have yet to see anyone upset about it. I know if it were the dems that took that same pledge, the tealiban would have them all shot at dawn as traitors.

    RepublicanPointOfView on October 04, 2011 9:41 AM:

    I thought that I was missing Al on here (did he retire?), but yanno, you kinda put Al to shame. I look forward to your "enlightenment" now.


    crapcha....captain avantsea....is he Irish?

  • ScottyW1 on October 04, 2011 1:47 PM:

    @ Republicianpointofview
    please put down the crack pipe, you have become delusional and your racism is showing

  • DisgustedWithItAll on October 04, 2011 1:53 PM:

    Folks, if you're beyond sickened by the unwillingness of the White House and the Democratic Party to engage this obvious "war" then your time would be better off spent leveling at the people you're irritated with:

    - White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

    And here:
    - DCCC: http://www.dccc.org/page/s/contact


    Every episode of clear obstruction of the economic interests of the country (or any other issue such as climate change, etc.) such as the constant Republican refusal to bring up the AJA should be met with an onslaught by various and sundry Democrats with a public megaphone. When it's not, ***WE*** should meet those Democrats with an onslaught of our disgust at their spinelessness. If ***WE*** don't, then we're just as guilty as the Democrats we're disgusted with.

    Show them your disgust.

  • Ted Frier on October 04, 2011 4:24 PM:

    It is quite a racket Republicans have going for them. In Congress, Republicans practically brag about the fact they will reject anything with Obama's name on it. Then Republicans running for president criticize Obama for his lack of leadership in not bringing the sides together to get things done. Utterly cynical.

  • Marc McKenzie on October 04, 2011 7:51 PM:

    @DisgustedWithItAll: I guess I'm not going to see you on TOP SHOT anytime soon.

    I mean....go after the Dems? Seriously? The Repubs royally f**k up everything....and you say go after the DEMS?

    Wow. Just wow. I tell you, it's no wonder the GOP gets away with it, because some folks just love misdirecting their anger. Christ in a chariot-driven sidecar....

  • RobM on October 04, 2011 11:05 PM:

    "Itís almost as if congressional Republicans are deliberately trying to hold the economy back, in the hopes that weaker growth and high unemployment would improve their electoral prospects. Perhaps itís a question worth debating."
    Stupid white people! late to the party because they can't get their institutional racism out of their ass!
    How long has it been since Sen Mitch Mcconnell said his job was to see that the President passes none of his agenda

  • Jack Bouchard on October 05, 2011 7:36 AM:

    If the economy could be saved by government funds then TARP and ARRA would have made it happen already. There is nothing new in Obama's jobs plan, just the same failed strategy. Good for Cantor for refusing to waste more taxpayer money on a program that is already doomed to failure.

  • Detroit Democrat on October 13, 2011 4:53 AM:

    Republicans Have Become The Worst Terrorist Threat To The Future Of America! & It's Homeland In American History! .. No Country Has The Power To Sink The Greatest Nation On Earth! Osama Bin Laden Knew He Could Not Defeat America Militarily! .. His Plan Was To Bankrupt America! & Thanks To The Hate & Stupidity Of The George W Bush Administration! .. Osama Bin Laden Won! .. George W Bush Did Bankrupt America! Went After Iraq 1st! To Finish His Daddys Business With Saddam! & Never Really Had A Plan For Osama In 2 Terms! Osama Got Him! The The Top Leaders! & All Of Their Information! In Less Than A 1st Term! .. Sometimes I Think Obama Doesn't Have The Balls To Battle Republicans & Other Important Issues! Especially When The Debt Ceiling Crisis Arised! & He Seemed Willing To Trade The Fedeeral Safety Nets Just To Cooperate With Boehner & Gop! .. But, Not Long After! He Has Proven He Has The Plan! The Experience! & The Balls To Kick Some Ass On All Levels! .. He Is A Very Smart Man! & Hard To Know When He Has Been Doing The Rope A Dope!? .. Whatever The Reasons!? .. We Have A Competent Leader! .. & No Gop Canidate Can Even Come Close To His Political Skills! He's No Clinton! But Thank God He's No GW Bush! Lol! The Republicans Are Out To Destroy The Country We Voted For Them To Save! If You Make Less Than $250,000 Per Year! & Think You Are A Republican!? Or Think They Really Give A Shit About You!?? .. You Are Just Simply A Brainwashed Ass! .. Let The Market Crash! Do Not Ever Bail Out A Company That Does No Create Real & Substantial Jobs For Americans! If The Rich Rebublicans! The Rich Share Holders! The Rich Corporate Officers! & The Lobbyist! Start Tanking In The Market!? Tough Shit! Let Them Have A Choice To Try & See What It's Really Like To Be Poor! Disabled! Or Working Middle Class! There Is No Company That Is Too Big To Fail! But, There Are Millions That Are Too Poor To Fail! .. Ps. Michigan Just Got A Republican Govenor! & He Has Created A 4 Year Lifetime Max On Any Support From The Welfare System! .. How Much More Suffering & Traumatic Actions To The People Of America Deserve!? .. It's Time To Stand Up & Stop This! .. Every Republican Voted Against The Presidents Jobs Bill! All But 2 Democrats Voted For It! .. I Would Like To See Them All Ran Out Of Office Asap!!!

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