The President and Mr. Cantor talk jobs in HenricoPolicyPoliticsVirginia

The President came to the University of Richmond on Friday to talk about jobs. Some questioned whether choosing a “…fabulously wealthy university” was an appropriate setting “for a embattled president to roll up his sleeves and get to work.” According to NBC12 reporter Ryan Nobles, U of R faculty member, and Democratic Senate candidate, Tim Kaine suggested the location to the President some time ago.

But backdrops and “optics” aside, the President’s decision to hold a rally in the congressional district of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor isn’t all that surprising. Vice President Joe Biden did the same thing back in 2009.

What was different this time is that on the same day the President was delivering his speech in climate-controlled comfort, Mr. Cantor held a smaller, outdoor event at a heavy manufacturing facility in the eastern part of Henrico County. Here, Cantor told the workers and assembled pressies (and me) that there were, indeed, items within the President’s proposal on which House Republicans and the White House could work together, specifically on further tax relief and passing trade agreements (which would help drive additional traffic to the Port of Virginia). And, perhaps given the setting for Cantor’s own event, he said Republicans would support additional infrastructure spending — though Cantor did point out that there were still unspent infrastructure funds from the 2009 stimulus that should be put to work first.

Cantor made it clear, however, that the areas of disagreement centered on regulation. In Titan’s case, stricter regulation on fly ash and cement production, in addition to the three percent withholding rule pose the greatest immediate risks to its business. This last item, in particular, is troublesome for any business with a government contract and slim operating margins.

But perhaps the greatest nit Cantor picked with the President was the idea that the bill had to be passed immediately, in its entirety. Cantor thinks this “all or nothing” approach jeopardizes the chances of getting anything done at all.

He could be right. Conflict is like honey to starving political and pressie bears. Then again, the President’s jobs package was presented in a campaign-like atmosphere, so perhaps the goal all along hasn’t been to create jobs, but to score political points.

If so, then folks like those at Titan America will have a rocky 14 months ahead of them as the rules they fear will crush their business role toward full or continued implementation.

And as for the rest of us…perhaps now’s the time to re-read “The Forgotten Man” to see how this play was acted once before.

  • Mike Barrett

    Cantor and the House republicans risk being painted as obstructionists if they refuse to seriously consider the President’s jobs bill. With economists and analysts predicting that if enacted it would create up to 165,000 jobs per month for the next two years is just the signal that businesses would need to start hiring again themselves. And if the republicans stand in the way, insisting on more cuts that have put us into this period of stagnation already, they will own the stagnant economy in November of 2012. Further, businesses don’t want a flat economy, they want growth, and right now, it is the Republican Study Committee in the House that is failing to act. As the CEO of a business, all this blather about regulation is pure bunk; we need more economic activity to spur growth and development. Pass the bill.