Cantor tries (and fails) to talk about jobs

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) sat down with Fox News’ Chris Wallace yesterday, and the “Fox News Sunday” made an effort to get the Republican leader to talk about job creation in a little depth. We know what GOP officials think about the issue, and while Wallace went out of his way to lend credence to Republican talking points, he at least tried to find out why.

The host asked, for example, “Let’s look at the president’s job’s plan, which was blocked in the Senate this week. Here it is — $245 billion in tax cuts in incentives, $140 billion in new spending on infrastructure and aid to states, $62 billion in aid to the unemployed. Question: what’s wrong with that plan?”

Cantor avoided answering directly, claiming that people on “both sides of the aisle” resisted the bill, before arguing, “We’re not going to be for tax increases on small businesses. [Obama] knows that.”

The president’s jobs bill cut taxes on small business. The oft-confused Majority Leader got this key detail backwards.

Cantor added that both sides should “work together” on Republican ideas like the “Plan for America’s Job Creators.” As we talked about last week, even the right should be able to understand that the GOP “plan” is a transparent joke.

Wallace proceeded to press Cantor on each of the key parts of the American Jobs Act, asking, “For or against it?” Starting with infrastructure investments, Cantor wouldn’t support public spending, but would support “redoing the permitting process.”

How about $35 billion for states so that they don’t have to lay off teachers, police and firefighters? Cantor rejected the very idea because the funds “are the type of programs that the president advocated in the stimulus program.” That’s not an answer, but the Republican leader seemed to think it was.

When the discussion turned to the Republican alternative, Wallace asked Cantor why his approach would be more effective. Cantor couldn’t say. It led to this exchange:

WALLACE: All right. But here’s the issue: the president points out that Moody’s Analytics, one of the top economic consulting firms, scored his plan, figured at what impact it would have, and says it would add 1.9 million jobs next year and grow the economy by an addition 2 percent…. Congressman Cantor, do you have an independent analysis that shows how this plan would grow the economy and add jobs?

CANTOR: First of all, I would say as to the Moody’s economist that the president speaks to, they and their chief economist was the one that predicted that the stimulus program would keep unemployment from rising above 8 percent. So, I think we need to raise some questions about that assessment of his.

WALLACE: In fairness, he was an economic adviser to John McCain in 2008, Mark Zandi, and the fact there’s a lot of the private economic firms that say whether it’s 1 percent or 2 percent growth, a million jobs, 2 million jobs, that it would have some stimulative affect.

CANTOR: Let’s look at this. There has —

WALLACE: Here’s a question, do you have independent scoring of what your plan does?

Cantor didn’t answer. He couldn’t.

There’s an opportunity here for a simple exercise: the parties present plans to create jobs, and allow them to be subjected to independent scrutiny. Make the results available to the public: which plan boost the economy more, create more jobs, lower unemployment more, etc. The Obama White House is clearly ready for this.

But Republicans aren’t. As we discussed last week, shouldn’t it tell the political world something important when there are two alternatives to job creation, and one is terrified of economic analysis and examination?