Eric Cantor quit the budget talks today. Evidently, he could not get the Democrats who are participating in bi-partisan talks over raising the debt ceiling to play by his rules. "Bi-partisan talks are fine," I imagine Cantor thinking, "just as long as the Democrats give in to our demands. When they start bringing up their own ideas, I see no reason to participate." And just what ideas have the the Democrats brought up that are so awful they would drive Eric Cantor away from the bargaining table? Cantor explains: "As it stands, the Democrats continue to insist that any deal must include tax increases, and I don’t believe now is the time to raise taxes in light of our current economic situation." [That response, by the way, is an actual quote from Cantor, according to the New York Times article linked at the beginning of this post. The rest of this interview is made up.] Well, then, I want to ask, in light of our current economic situation, why is now such a good time to cut spending? Wouldn't that hurt the economic recovery just as much?
"You just don't get it," Cantor might say, "when you cut taxes you are hurting the people who create the jobs (and contribute to my campaign). We Republicans just want to create more jobs." I want to respond: So what about all the people you might be hurting by cutting spending? And how does it create more jobs to start firing lots of park rangers and court clerks and IRS agents and prison guards and thousands of other federal employees? It sure seems like we would be losing jobs if we did that. The people who got all the tax breaks you wanted would have to hire back all those government employees just to keep unemployment where it is now. And I haven't exactly been seeing them use all their savings to hire all the unemployed who are already out there.
"When I said jobs," Cantor explains, "I was mainly talking about MY job. If I admit that we might need to raise revenue in order to balance the budget, I might just be out of a job. And what I really want is John Boehner's job. So I have to drop out of the talks and force Boehner to talk to all those mean Democrats." So is that why you are demanding that President Obama get involved in talks with Speaker Boehner again? "That's right," says Cantor, "it's just unfair to expect me to make an agreement with people who won't play according to my rules. We need the President to get involved, so I can blame him for whatever happens, and let Boehner take some of the heat as well." But, I point out, John Boehner said the same thing you did about taxes. Boehner said: "These conversations could continue if they take the tax hikes out of the conversation." [another actual quote according to the Huffington Post]
Cantor goes on: "I heard Boehner said that, and I appreciate his support. But I figure when he gets back in the room with the President, he'll make a deal, and then both of them will get the blame, and I don't have to take responsibility." Everybody can see right through you, I'd like to tell Representative Cantor. They understand exactly what your game is. "I don't care," Cantor would probably reply. "If I can't get my way, I'm just taking my ball and bat and going home."