Eric Cantor, still banging that rebranding drum

ERIC CANTOR, STILL BANGING THAT REBRANDING DRUM…. After House Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) previous efforts at Republican “rebranding” failed miserably, I’d hoped he’d find a better way to spend his time.

Alas, he’s still pursuing this.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor will kick off a personal drive Friday to rebrand the GOP as “a party that gets it” and would focus on spending — not ideology — if Republicans win a House majority in November.

“People are receptive to a message of responsible leadership,” he said in an interview in his Capitol suite. “They’re just pissed, and they’re not going to take it anymore.”

Cantor, who has occasionally gotten under President Barack Obama’s skin during leadership meetings at the White House, will take a few digs at him when unveiling his refreshed GOP message for the Detroit Economic Club, a prestigious forum visited by every sitting president since Richard Nixon.

Cantor really seems to think that rebranding will solve his party’s problems. If he can just convince people to see Republicans as the “spending cuts” party, the GOP will thrive.

I realize the Minority Whip struggles to understand public policy and substantive details, but there are a few nagging issues he should at least try to consider.

First, Cantor and the GOP have no credibility on cutting spending. When Republicans were in the majority, they increased spending considerably. By their own admission, it was “standard practice not to pay for things” when the GOP was in charge. We know exactly what to expect from Republican governance because we just saw its results — recession, huge deficits, mismanagement, and a system gamed to help no one but the very wealthy. For a rebranding effort to work, it should have at least some foundation in reality.

Second, Cantor and the GOP won’t tell anyone what spending they intend to cut. So far, they’ve offered a few gimmicks that tinker around the edges, but there’s no serious effort to present a substantive plan. Cut spending where? By how much? Affecting whom? GOP officials and candidates never quite get around to filling in these gaps, and seem to hope desperately that voters just don’t ask. Indeed, when President Obama reached out to congressional Republicans last summer, urging them to put together a list of spending cuts they’d like to see, the GOP caucus came up with $23 billion in proposed cuts over five years — far less than the White House plan to reduce spending over the same period. So why should anyone consider Republicans the “spending cuts” party?

Third, Cantor and the GOP whine incessantly about government spending not helping the economy, but they clearly don’t mean it. More than half the House Republican caucus — including Cantor himself — are publicly on record stating that government spending creates jobs and improves the economy … just so long as it’s spent in their congressional districts. Cantor’s credibility on the subject, then, is a rather transparent joke.

And fourth, Cantor and the GOP may not like it, but government spending prevented a depression that was nearly created by failed Republican economic policies. Instead of heading to Detroit to bash the White House, he should be headed to Hallmark to look for an “I’m Sorry” card to the American people.

I continue to almost feel bad for Cantor. He was elected to Congress before he was able to learn anything about public policy, and was put in the GOP leadership before he could speak intelligently about any issue.

Eric Cantor as a congressional leader remains a classic example of a post turtle — you know he didn’t get up there by himself; he obviously doesn’t belong up there; he can’t get anything done while he’s there; and you just want to help the poor, dumb thing down.