Eric Cantor (R-VA), just committed a mortal sin in the church of conservatism: He told the truth. As the January deadline looms for the mandatory budget cuts Congress authorized during the manufactured debt ceiling “crisis,” Eric Cantor is now willing to admit that federal spending creates jobs.
Being a Republican, House Majority Leader Cantor adopted the negative position to make his case, worrying over budget cuts that ”will harm important domestic priorities such as education, medical research, law enforcement, national security and jobs.” Mr. Cantor, in his tweet, seems blissfully unaware that President Obama’s jobs bill, which Congress has ignored for over a year now, addresses just those areas of the economy, and the jobs he’s now suddenly worried about. And it appears to signal a sea-change in the messaging of Congressional Republican leadership, as they prepare to turn the corner of political change in Washington this November.
During Republican administrations “deficits don’t matter,” and the federal government grows at an alarming rate. When the bubble bursts and the political pendulum swings back into Democratic control, ‘spending is out of control’ in Washington, and we ‘must do something about the deficit.’ This same scenario echoes over the years.
During the Reagan years, the U.S. debt increased by 186%, and we raised the debt ceiling eighteen times. Under George H.W. Bush the debt ceiling was raised seven times and our debt increase 54%. Bill Clinton was able to slow the rate to 41% – and then George W. Bush grew the federal debt by another 72%. So far, President Obama has accepted appropriation bills from Congress (which Rep. Cantor voted for) which have increased the debt by only 23% – but the hue and cry from the right is that Obama is solely responsible for all $16 trillion dollars of our national debt.
Likewise the lagging U.S. jobs picture; which Eric Cantor now seems willing to discuss, after ignoring jobs for three-and-a-half years. His tacit admission that federal dollars do create jobs, flies in the face of party messaging during this administration. All things associated with the federal government are bad (unless they affect the Congressman’s home district), or if Republicans are once again ramping up public opinion for more “happy days,” when they control both the purse (Congress), and the executive branch. That unholy alliance leads us into unnecessary wars, massive deficits, rampant corporate welfare and relaxation of corporate regulations, and an eventual crash.
As Eric Cantor and the Republicans take a long look over the fiscal cliff we’re approaching, a reasonable person would be willing to reconsider the choices available within the federal budget. The Pentagon has already planned to implement $487 billion in cuts over the next decade. Republicans not only won’t budge on this issue, they want to give the military industrial complex billions more dollars than they originally requested.
The right is also reticent to drop their insistence on slashing sections of the ACA, which affect Medicaid and CHIP, which extends medical coverage to non-elderly people (and their children) who have household incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level.)
Eric Cantor, just last week, said Congressional leaders must “assess our priorities so we can manage down the deficit.” He is adamant that the Bush tax cuts remain in place, even for the wealthiest Americans. And he is unable to articulate one area of the budget on which he’s willing to compromise. Not one.
The last time Congress faced a similar situation, the debt crisis cost America its AAA-rating from Standard and Poor’s. This time, Republican being recalcitrant could cost the country jobs, taking cops off the streets, teachers out of the classroom, and firefighters from responding to your home when you dial 911. It could mean a tax hike for middle-class Americans – the people who actually create jobs when they go out into the market and purchase goods and services.
He and his cohorts have successfully strangled the economy during Obama’s first term. If Mitt Romney wins the White House, Eric Cantor’s tweet signals the right is willing to once again open up the federal checkbook and spend our way out of the malaise of the Bush recession.