Cantor conspicuous confusion over compromise

All of the relevant players in D.C. want to raise the debt ceiling and prevent a crisis. President Obama is urging Republicans to compromise: Democrats will accept a lot of cuts if Republicans accept a little revenue.

Today, the oft-confused House Majority Leader tried to argue that Republicans have already made all the concessions they should be expected to make: they’re willing to raise the debt ceiling after Dems pay the ransom.

Amid ongoing negotiations with President Obama over raising the debt ceiling, House Republican leaders responded to Obama’s call Monday for compromise by saying that their openness to raising the debt ceiling at all is sacrifice enough.

“A vote to increase the debt limit in this country is an existential question for a fiscal conservative,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Monday. “These votes aren’t easy. …What I don’t think that the White House understands is how difficult it is for fiscal conservatives to say they’re going to vote for a debt ceiling increase.”

Cantor added that his party’s concession is “the fact that we are voting — the fact that we are even discussing voting for a debt ceiling increase.”

And with this, the House Majority Leader has slipped into true madness.

First, characterizing a willingness to raise the debt ceiling as some kind of enormous sacrifice is insane. We’re talking about paying a bill for money we’ve already spent. Cantor wants the political world to understand that his party sees this as an “existential” problem? Maybe he can start by explaining why Republicans had no qualms about voting to raise the debt ceiling seven out of the eight years Bush was in office.

Maybe it only became “an existential problem” after a Democrat got elected? Or more likely, Eric Cantor’s conspicuous unintelligence is catching up with him. When he’s personally voting routinely to raise the debt ceiling, it’s not controversial. When he doesn’t feel like letting America pay its bills, then the rest of the world just doesn’t understand what a burden it is for Republicans to meet their legal, moral, and economic obligations.

But just as importantly, Cantor is turning the very notion of what a compromise is on its ear.

Democratic and Republican leaders agree that the debt ceiling has to be raised; it’s not optional. Once that’s established, the question then becomes what it will take to get reluctant lawmakers to do what they have to do.

On the debt ceiling, Dems are willing to accept a trade-off — they’ll accept spending cuts in exchange for at least a little new revenue. That, to them, seems fair. Indeed, it’s probably too fair — in the last 80 years, no party has ever had to pay a ransom to get a party to do their duty.

Eric Cantor has a very different idea about the nature of the process. They see an alternative trade-off — the GOP will accept spending cuts, and in exchange, they won’t deliberately destroy the economy.

Dems are willing to accept concessions to strike a deal. Republicans are willing to not shoot their hostage in the head in exchange for Dems giving the GOP what it wants.

The former is an example of a party negotiating in good faith. The latter is an example of reckless thugs pretending to be a political party.