Cantor redefines ‘substantive’

CANTOR REDEFINES ‘SUBSTANTIVE’…. With the House poised to return from its recess, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has another Poltico op-ed today, describing his hopes/expectations for the year. It’s not an especially compelling look.

The thrust of the piece is to complain about, well, pretty much everything. President Obama, Cantor said, had “a unique opportunity to unite the country” last year, but that didn’t work because the White House refused to govern with far-right priorities in mind. (The nerve of the president to follow his campaign platform.) The big bad president and those mean Democratic leaders expressed no interest in right-wing ideas, and as a result, Obama’s desire to be “the great unifier” came up far short.

From Obama’s first day in office, [congressional Republicans] stood ready to work with him on common-sense, mainstream solutions to return the economy to prosperity and get Americans working again…. Despite efforts like these to work together, the Obama administration, in tandem with Democrats on Capitol Hill, has forged ahead with a rigidly ideological agenda. […]

It didn’t have to be this way. From the stimulus to the budget to health care, Republicans have offered substantive solutions on every piece of major legislation in a good-faith effort to get things done for Americans facing tremendous challenges. During the rare occasions when we have held discussions at the White House, the president has paid our proposals mere lip service when the cameras are on, only to rebuff our ideas in their entirety once the meeting ends.

The column gets dumber — for example, he urges the administration to “cast aside political correctness to keep the American people secure” — which is to be expected. Cantor is, after all, the quintessential post turtle.

But these claims about the GOP agenda from last year warrant a little fact-checking.

Republicans offered a “substantive solution” during the stimulus debate? Actually, no. Republicans offered a five-year spending freeze and a new round of tax cuts. Even prominent conservatives described the GOP recovery plan as “insane.”

Republicans offered a “substantive solution” during the budget debate? I wish they had. Republicans actually offered two genuinely ridiculous alternative budgets, one of which didn’t include any numbers, and one of which sought to privatize Medicare out of existence.

Republicans offered a “substantive solution” during the health care debate? Not in this reality it didn’t. The GOP plan was nothing short of laughable — it did nothing for the uninsured, nothing for those with pre-existing conditions, and nothing for those worried about losing coverage when it’s needed most. It was an entirely partisan plan, written in secret. The Republican proposal sought to create a system that “works better for people who don’t need health care services, and much worse for people who actually are sick or who become sick in the future. It’s basically a health un-insurance policy.” And as we learned in November, the plan included provisions that “mirror the suggestions put forth by the lobbying entity of the private insurance industry way back in December 2008.”

When Obama reached out to Republicans on the climate bill, the GOP said it would refuse to accept the idea that global warming is real. When Obama reached out to Republicans on a plan to cut spending, Cantor & Co. came up with only $23 billion in cuts over five years — less than Obama’s plan. When Obama met with GOP leaders in the White House, and started talking about the kind of concessions he was prepared to make as part of a bipartisan compromise on health care, he asked what Republicans might be willing to do in return. They offered literally nothing.

Obama, we’re told, chose “to rebuff [Republican] ideas in their entirety.” Maybe that’s because the Republican ideas were a pathetic joke, unworthy of consideration, and unbecoming of a national political party that strives to be taken seriously?