VPOD 111: Regarding Eric Cantor and Red State

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“Facts are stubborn things,” said President John Adams. “whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

Unfortunately, in a post written late yesterday on Red State about House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), facts about him were widely ignored, distorted, and taken out of context.

In a screed by Michael Hammond called “The Passion Deficit”, he takes Cantor to task for a perception that somehow Cantor is weak on spending cuts, weak on defunding ObamaCare, and weak on defunding Planned Parenthood.

What is the basis for Hammond’s remarks?

Taken out of context, he interprets this statement by Cantor to demonstrate the potential for compromise, and, in Hammond’s view, to capitulate on the more controversial aspects of H.R. 1 – the Continuing Resolution to fund the government for the next seven months:

“I think that we are trying to demonstrate right now that we don’t want to see a shutdown and there will be no policy changes in the temporary CR that we will proffer this week,” Cantor said. “However, in the long term, again, for the remainder of the fiscal year, it is up to Harry Reid to answer to the members of his body and then thus their constituents as to where they stand. And why he is fearful of holding a vote on some of these issues is really the question to be asked.”

How much of that statement did Hammond actually use to justify his post for Cantor:

“…we’re trying to demonstrate right now that we don’t want to see a [government] shutdown…”

That’s all Hammond used. Really?

In this week’s CR, yes, the Pence Amendment and defunding of Obamacare were not included, but they STILL EXIST in HR 1.

Hammond completely missed Cantor’s point about Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid abject refusal to even vote on HR 1, forcing us into this discussion of a two week extension in the first place.

While Hammond continues to ignore facts and arbitrarily come to conclusions about Cantor, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R.-Ohio), he completely misses Republican’s leadership’s point. For example, he misses Boehner’s insistence that the Senate still take up HR 1.

Speaking about Planned Parenthood, Cantor’s office makes it plain where he stands in this statement to Bearing Drift:

“The House has already made it very clear that we do not support tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood funding. The Pence amendment to accomplish this limitation was approved with bipartisan support in the 7-month CR. We now need to see where the Senate stands.”

Additionally, Cantor over the past several days has said consistently and often that we will continue to cut spending and that this first extension is only the first step in cutting that spending.

Speaking about this $4 billion cut in this two week extension, Cantor says:

“Now that Congressional Democrats and the Administration have recognized the need for spending cuts – and agreed with our math on the level of the cuts – I am hopeful that Leader Reid will join us on a long-term measure that contains serious spending reductions, or offer a plan of his own. We need to act responsibly and put together a measure that will fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year instead of short-term bandaids. The sooner we can find agreement for cutting spending while funding the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, the sooner we can focus on additional pro-growth measures to jump start the economy and create jobs in the private sector.”

That doesn’t sound like someone who is capitulating on cutting spending; who is capitulating on defunding Obamacare; who is capitulating on the Pence Amednment!

But Cantor goes further. He talks about the short-term continuing resolution and cutting spending on Bloomberg’s “Inside Track”:

“The American people won round one, because Washington is now taking the first steps toward doing what most people are doing right now, which is tightening our belt and learning how to do more with less. This initial interim step to cut spending is exactly where we need to be headed for the rest of the year, because we need to get our fiscal house in order, to create an economy where jobs are going to grow. That is really the intention here, to get the economy growing and get more people back to work.”

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, he talks about Republicans Leading On The Economy, Tax Reform, and Entitlement Reform:

“We have an economy that is still ailing with too many people out of work. Our focus is to try and jump start this economy. What we continue to hear when we talk to small and large businesses is – if you want to fix the economy fix the deficit. If you want to provide the kind of environment for long term economic growth make sure you get your fiscal house is in order. Republicans are taking the small steps this week and we will continue to do that for this fiscal year, but everyone knows that the uncertainty hanging over the economy is caused by the entitlement future of this country. We just can’t keep going like we are going. That is why Republicans have said, when we produce our budget … we are going to include entitlement reform in that budget.”

On CNN’s “Situation Room” he discusses how Republicans are taking action, while Democrats talk about talking:

“Meetings are great and talk is great, but we need to see action. The American people elected us to cut spending so we can create an environment for jobs in America. The House has acted. We have demonstrated that we want to see discretionary spending brought down to levels of 2008. We’ve seen no counteraction, we’ve seen no position that has been expressed by the other side at all. The President has not laid out what his vision is, and frankly Harry Reid and the Democrats in the Senate have not for once even posited what their position is. The American people expect us to do what they are doing, its tightening the belt, its learning how to do more with less. That’s a reality today, and we’ve got to do that in order to get the private sector growing.”

Does this sound like a man not committed to taking on spending on principle? Not committed to doing what he and his fellow Republicans campaigned on?

Absolutely not.

The reality is that Hammond and Red State seem to have an agenda and they are engaged in what amounts to irresponsible blogging. At a time when the focus clearly should be focused on the administration and Senator Harry Reid and the Democratic Senate’s failed leadership – including Virginia Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner, Hammond chose to make up fairy tales and hear things that simply aren’t being said; he has chosen to read between the lines when everything is being clearly said and clearly written in black and white.

Red State, you’re better than this.

Finally, and this is a sidebar comment, I was struck that in this week before Lent in Christianity, Hammond used the title “The Passion Deficit”, an allusion to Christ’s passion, and compared the number of abortions conducted to a “Schindler’s List” for a post that is primarily critical of our first Jewish Majority Leader. I am willing to give Hammond the benefit of the doubt and that this was just gross ignorance – especially given how wrong he is on other aspects of his post. However, words have meaning. While it is likely he meant no harm, this kind of rhetoric is not helpful to the cause of conservatism and fiscal responsibility.

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