Eric, Eric, Eric.
Remember the “speech on inequality” Rep. Eric Cantor promised earlier this week that he’d deliver today in Philadelphia? He cancelled it at the last minute when it turned out the University of Pennsylvania would allow the general public to show up.
Cantor’s office provided to the university’s newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian, the text of the speech he would have delivered. And while it’s stuffed full of pretty-sounding rhetoric, it’s also by turns evasive, hypocritical and misleading. It’s remarkably slight on actual policy, and no wonder: other than pretty rhetoric, Cantor – the second-highest-ranking House Republican – can only talk around the problem.
Where it turns from eye-rolling banality to jaw-dropping hypocrisy is in a few key lines. With a straight face, Cantor was prepared to say sentences like “we must ensure fairness at every level. We must ensure that those who abuse the rules are punished,” while his caucus in Washington is busily dismantling the rules that protect fairness. Cantor was prepared to talk about giving people “a hand up to help…climb the ladder of success in our country” and “some guarantees” while his allies are undermining the public education, infrastructure and support to those in poverty that actually contribute to those goals.
Cantor’s political agenda consists of reducing the services government provides to its citizens, eliminating the guidelines and rules protecting workers and consumers, undermining Social Security and Medicare and making the tax code more favorable to corporations and the very wealthiest. If we give more and more to the wealthiest, he contends, they’ll magnanimously help the rest of us out. Maybe in his heart of hearts he truly believes that this is how you build an economy that works for everyone else, or maybe he just doesn’t care—but the effect is the same either way. In Cantor’s world, you’d be on your own and without a safety net.
We watched for the past decade as light taxation, light regulation and light enforcement were the rule at the national level, and for most of us, Cantor’s economic fairy tale stayed fictional—jobs went overseas, wages stagnated and working people went further and further into debt. All the pretty rhetoric Cantor can spin out can’t make the real world fit the fable.
No wonder, when he’s forced to present this story to the general public, he turns tail and runs.
Tags: Corporate Accountability, Eric Cantor, Jobs, OWS, taxes
As the old saying goes, to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And to Eric Cantor, everything looks like an opportunity to shovel more money to the very wealthiest.
After referring to the Occupy Wall Street protestors as “mobs,” Rep. Cantor, a Virginia Republican, is trying to shake off his well-deserved reputation as the smug, shameless defender of the corporate-money agenda by giving a talk on economic inequality this Friday. The second-highest-ranking House Republican must be feeling some heat, because saying we need to “take care of the income disparity in this country” is not exactly in Cantor’s standard talking-point arsenal.
Cantor’s showy display of concern is a sign that the Occupy Wall Street protests are changing our national political conversation for the better. The message is getting out there even as the typical array of right-wing political strategists, well-connected business reporters and corporate-funded think tanks are desperately trying to dismiss, demonize or neutralize the protests.
So what does Cantor have to offer as a solution to the very real problem of economic inequality? Surprise! It’s exactly what Eric Cantor was offering last week, the week before and the week before that. It’s more tax cuts to corporations and the very wealthy, more rollbacks of regulations that protect workers and consumers, and more slashing of services and support systems that people hit by the recession really need. In particular, Cantor and his allies are looking to eliminate even the modest, insufficient regulations we currently have on Wall Street and the big banks who caused the financial crisis. If Cantor were capable of embarrassment, he might be hesitant to advance a “jobs plan” that doesn’t create jobs.
Cantor claims that his agenda is going to promote economic growth because it “gives private enterprise a chance to grow.” But the problem facing our economy isn’t that businesses are insufficiently profitable or insufficiently flush with cash to create jobs. It’s that high unemployment, lost wealthy and stagnant incomes are holding back demand. There is zero wrong with our economy that can be fixed by directing more money towards the companies who are failing to create jobs despite sitting on trillions in cash. Cantor’s economic prescription is based on wishful thinking.
In addition to being wrong, Cantor’s argument here is just plain lazy. Low taxes on the very wealthiest, light or nonexistent regulation of big businesses and reduced services are what politicians like Cantor always offer, regardless of the circumstances. And they’re what we’ve tried already—after all, the grim job and income record of the Bush administration came at a time when Cantor and his party controlled the levers of policy. It only “worked” to create economic growth for a tiny sliver of the very wealthiest, which may be the only kind of economic growth that actually matters to Cantor.
You can thank the Occupy Wall Street protestors for changing our national conversation so much that even Eric Cantor feels he has to show he cares about inequality. But he’ll have to try a lot harder to actually propose solutions that are anything more than reheated leftovers of the failed policies of the past decade.
Tags: Corporate Accountability, Eric Cantor, taxes, Wall Street