Eric Cantor Tells the Truth

Really.  Explaining why the Republicans are rejecting President Obama’s jobs package, which includes things like rebuilding schools and spending on infrastructure like roads, bridges, etc., Cantor said:

I think at this point Washington has become so dysfunctional that we’ve got to start focusing on the incremental progress we can make. Both sides have their desires to do the big bold things. The problem is they’re just vastly different.

 Yes.  Absolutely.

The Democrats want to preserve Medicare, and the Republicans want to end it.  The Democrats want to protect the environment, and the Republicans want to destroy it.  The Democrats want to rebuild schools, and the Republicans don’t.  The Republicans, in turn, want to give very large tax cuts to people making more than $250,000 a year, and the Democrats don’t.  The Republicans want to empower Wall Street and let the banks do anything they want, and the Democrats don’t.

There is a choice here.  People disagree.  To say that the politicians should “put aside their differences” and “work things out” ignores basic reality and is willfully blind.

It’s really just that simple.  And it is what the campaign must be about.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

9 thoughts on “Eric Cantor Tells the Truth”

  1. But he has a point, right? The parties have become so far apart – well, Republicans have moved so far right, that doing much of anything will require major compromise. Unfortunately, we need to do some big things. I’m not sure any election will help much. The problem is in the electorate, half of whom are ready to radically change course, march off an ideological cliff.

  2. Cantor says, “we’ve got to start focusing on the incremental progress we can make.” I take it that by “we’ve” he doesn’t mean Republicans and Democrats together; he means just Republicans. In other words, Republicans have got to destroy Medicare a little, destroy the environment a little, and so forth, since they don’t have the power to do the big bold things they want and destroy them totally. And Cantor probably presumes, accurately, that Republicans can count on Obama’s “compromising” to allow them to engage in their incremental destruction. Do I read him correctly?

  3. Actually, the Democrats do not want to do big bold things. The Democrats want to preserve Medicare, Social Security, the environment, and so forth, from the Republican onslaught. That’s not big or bold. That is conservative, literally. The Democrats did their supposedly “big bold thing,” which other western democracies did years ago, which is to ensure that everyone gets health care (although that hasn’t taken effect yet). I’m not aware of any other big bold thing for which the Democrats strive.

    1. Well, I take your point, but as you note, the ACA has not really been implemented yet, and if it’s done right, then it really could be big and bold. If the exchanges and enforcement are properly funded, if risk adjustment is done with real teeth, and if the cost control experiments generate actual knowledge of how to control costs in an equitable manner, that will be indeed be big and bolkd in my view. Also putting in real climate legislation, which is a necessary (although hardly sufficient) cause of preserving human civilization as we know it, seems to me big and bold, even if, as you say, it is essentially conservative.

  4. The President could create jobs in a heartbeat. He’s just not interested in it. The stuff that slows down most projects is regulatory and then clearing away the lawsuits that follow. He could declare an emergency, condemn and take every train route he wants, pick wages out of a hat, set a very abbreviated appeal period, waive EPA and local zoning regulations and build to his heart’s content. But notice which constituencies get hurt…labor, environmental groups, lawyers, local governments, Wall Street and the Federal Contractors!

    (I include this since it may not be obvious: Normally you sell bonds to pay for infrastructure improvements, right, but with direct federal action, no bonds, so Wall Street doesn’t get a cut. Ditto for contractors-if the government itself does the work, no contractors get a cut of the money to then shower back on helpful politicians. The Fed’s can even release themselves from civil liability-so no torts)

  5. “The Republicans want to empower Wall Street and let the banks do anything they want, and the Democrats don’t.”

    You had me up to here. Let me correct that for you:

    “The Republicans want to empower Wall Street, watch the bankers usher in a bright future of neo-feudalism, then proudly proclaim love for their new overlords; the Democrats just want to quietly auction off the country piece by piece under cover of night.”

  6. Meh, I seem to recall, back when the Democrats had 60 seats in the Senate, that there was always some Democrat (or Lieberman) blocking legislation that I liked. So I would replace every use of Democrats in your post with “some Democrats.” I also agree with Dr. Buzzsaw.

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