Economist Who Beat Eric Cantor Doesn’t Know If There Should Be A Minimum Wage

In one of the biggest upsets in political history, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was defeated in his Republican primary by an under-funded, largely unknown economics professor.

But despite his economics training, Brat was at a loss when asked this morning about whether or not there should be a minimum wage:

The question wasn’t about a specific proposal on raising the minimum wage, like the Harkin-Miller bill raising the minimum wage to $10.10 that Senate Republicans filibustered and that Eric Cantor’s House colleagues refuse to vote on. Brat, who is a professor of economics at Randolph-Macon College and served as president of the of the Virginia Association of Economics, won’t say whether or not he thinks minimum wage should exist.

The odd thing is that Brat won largely by attacking Rep. Cantor on issues he saw as economic: Cantor’s soft support for a watered-down version of the DREAM Act and raising the debt ceiling. Stagnant wages are the most pressing economic issue in most people’s lives, and poll after poll show a majority of Americans think the minimum wage should be higher; 69 percent of Americans, including 45 percent of Republicans, specifically support Harkin-Miller bill.

Brat’s response could mean he is disconnected to the concern over wages that dominate the economic opinions of a majority of Americans. It also could mean that while he is vehemently opposed to immigration reform and government spending, he’s actually closer to the majority opinion on the minimum wage but isn’t willing to say it.

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GOP ‘Ideas’ Man Eric Cantor Offers Up Two Paths To Destroy the Economy

On Sunday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said that Republicans would be open to restoring some of the funding lost in the job-killing sequester if new cuts to social safety net lifelines were put in place.  In effect, Cantor is suggesting replacing one policy that hurts the economy and suppresses job growth with another policy that does the exact same thing.

“What we need to have happen is leadership on the part of this president and the White House to come to the table finally and say we’re going to fix the underlying problem that’s driving our deficit,” Cantor told Fox News’ Chris Wallace. “We know that is the entitlement programs and the unfunded liability that they are leaving on this generation and the next.”

Actually, Cantor is completely wrong about Social Security and Medicare causing the deficit. The current deficit is caused primarily by the Great Recession, but also by the Bush tax cuts and two wars that were never paid for. From the Economic Policy Institute:

chart

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

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The deficit is already more or less stabilized for the next decade. In future decades, projected deficits are driven almost entirely by health care costs, but this is a problem of both the private and public sectors.  Medicare and Medicaid have lower costs than private insurance and have done a better jobs of controlling costs over the past 40 years.

Cantor offers a false choice that would do little to cut the deficit or boost the economy or job growth and would harm our most vulnerable citizens.  Republicans are still focused on the wrong “crisis.”  While the evidence is quite clear that what the U.S. needs most is more jobs and investment in infrastructure, Cantor and his fellow Republican “leaders” are focused on deficit reduction that economists have said isn’t necessary, and, in fact, is a drag on the economy and job creation.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Cantor Bails on Economic Speech

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.

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Wait, What? Cantor Repackages His Tired Agenda as a Solution to Inequality

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.

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