By fiat, Eric Cantor, as House Majority Leader, is the second most powerful man in the House of Representatives. The way Speaker John Boehner gets kicked around and disrespected by the Tea Party faction, Cantor may just be the most powerful man in the House. After all, he sets the agenda and herds committee chairs around to his way of thinking and he basically tells members of his party how to vote. If they demur, his party whip, Kevin McCarthy will kick their political asses.
Cantor, from Virginia’s 7th Congressional District is a natty dresser whose bespectacled visage and mop of black hair (there are dark hints of a dye job) make him look a decade younger than his 49 years. He’s Jewish. A rare conservative Republican Jew. The Jewish voting population as a whole isn’t terribly fond of Republicans. Democratic Presidential and Congressional candidates can routinely count on 70% of the Jewish vote. Yet Cantor recaptured his seat with a respectable 58% of the vote.
His political positions are crazy-glued in place. He’s a highly partisan Republican voting with the party 95% of the time. He predictably hates gays, unions and programs for minorities. He would control women’s reproductive rights. Cantor and his wife Diana are deeply divided on this issue. Of course he wants to dismantle Obamacare; not to mention Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. He loves the Ryan budget, fat cats, money (his net worth is in the $8 million range), shorting U.S. Treasuries, signing a helpful letter for Jack Abramoff and the Tea Party.
According to the Daily Kos, quoting a book written by Robert Draper, Cantor was also one of 12 Congressmen, including McCarthy, who attended a 2009 invitation-only meeting plotting to “bring Congress to a standstill” no matter the impact on the economy. Yep, where you gonna get a more perfect Majority Leader?
As we close out the year, nothing has changed. We have a few new Republican Representatives and Cantor wants to make damn sure they abide by the 2009 game plan. His first Majority Leader post-election move was a November 7th letter to his fellow reps beginning with “Dear Republican Colleague.” What followed was the Koch, Tea Party and ALEC-fueled agenda for the upcoming 113th Congress. The ‘orders from headquarters’ are spelled out in some detail and there is no mistaking their intent; continue to make life hell for the President and Democratic House members.
The letter began by expressing joy that the Republicans kept the House and voters supported Republican efforts to “improve the economy and create the conditions for job growth.” What’s this guy smoking? Cantor then laments that, “we did not get the partner in the White House that we desired.” This is followed by the self-serving narrative that “we must achieve as many of OUR goals as possible working with President Obama.” Nothing about Obama’s goals or constituent’s goals – OUR goals.
A paragraph of burning invectives against the Obama administration followed. Millions out of work. Stagnant or falling wages. A tax system punishing entrepreneurs and job creators. Run-away entitlements. An Obama ‘takeover’ of our health system. Obamacare bankrupting us while failing to help those in need. Regulators attempting to micromanage every aspect of life in our country. And a military of diminished capabilities just as the bad actors are, well, acting up! A fantasy list based on either outright lies or placing the blame on Obama when it belongs squarely within the Republican Party.
He follows up his castigation with the sugary statement that “we act to bridge our differences and deliver results.” Then he defiantly adds in the very next line “The President cannot demand that every issue be resolved his preferred way.” Cantor then returns to his compromise mantra of forging legislation that will be necessary to get our nation back on track.
Now for the meat of the matter. Here’s what we expect from old Republican hands and especially, newbies. No yielding on raising taxes “across the board”. Translation: no increases on the spectacularly rich even though 1% of their number control more wealth that the lower 90% of the population. Just think of the pain for small businesses wails Cantor. Less than 3% of small businesses would be impacted. And if that business is small/big enough to rise to that level, it can easily afford the few extra bucks.
Since right-wing Republicans middle name is ‘dishonesty’, the letter retells the GOP blarney that the tax increase will result in a $400 billion dollar tax hike. “Oy, a klug.” This, of course assumes that 100% of taxes will revert to the pre-Bush timeline “raising taxes on every American” is how Cantor put it, a proposal not even remotely advanced by Democrats. The Obama team has been crystal clear that’s it’s the top 2% that they’re asking to ante up for a 2 or 3% tax boost. An increase Mr.& Mrs. hoity-toity will barely notice.
Cantor professes to want to ‘consolidate’ (read eliminate) 47 separate government job training programs to help Americans to get back to work, especially the long-term unemployed. My guess is as programs are shut down, lots of folks will be joining those unemployed. There’s also the sneaky little line about “streamlining” regulations of capital investments. Still comfortably ensconced in the pockets of the big boys, eh Eric?
“Give parents greater control over the education of their children.” This is barely coded language targeting public schools by pushing school choice and vouchers. Where does that leave the public school system in the eyes of Cantor and his ALEC-induced privatizing lynch mob? At severe risk would be most accurate.
Then there’s the plea to pass extended work requirements for welfare programs, expand domestic energy production and repeal the 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). This agency is part of Obamacare. Rachel Maddow’s blog tells us IPAB’s job is eliminating unnecessary excessive care spending and still not impact quality of treatment and coverage. It’s a net positive that will reduce costs, the last thing the House hired guns want in their attempts to terminate public-run Medicare and hand it to the corporations. Last Spring, a ‘kill the IPAB’ bill combined with an award-limiting tort reform bill to appease the docs, passed the House. It’ll pass the Senate when hell freezes over. Should that freeze actually happen, a White House veto has been promised.
There’s also another quasi-educational component in the letter. It’s worded as “encouraging growth in medical research and life sciences by improving the regulatory system.” Such sneaky benign-sounding verbiage. This is all about human embryonic stem cell research. Improve, of course, always means eliminate in right-wingese.
There was a warning for Democrats who don’t toe the Republican line in making the Cantor wish list come true. “When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.” The Representatives were counseled to go home and ‘pressure’ Democrat Representatives before their constituents.
For recipients of this correspondence; memorize it. These are your marching orders right-wing boys and girls. Ignore them at your peril.
Thank you, Mr. Majority Leader for “bridging our differences.”