9/11 EXPLOITATION NEVER GETS OLD… For nearly all of the Bush/Cheney era, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were a cliched rationalization for just about every political problem Republicans faced. From taxes to national security to the budget, the “9/11 card” would be played, replayed, and overplayed.

Nearly a decade later, 9/11 exploitation isn’t nearly as common anymore, but it’s still an old stand-by when all else fails.

Take House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on MSNBC yesterday, for example.

Cantor was making the case that Bush’s failed economic policy — ineffective tax cuts that achieved exactly zero of their promised goals — must continue indefinitely, and that President Obama is wrong to want to scrap tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. To “grow the economy,” Cantor said, the country support more tax giveaways to the rich.

It led Norah O’Donnell to ask a good question. If only she’d gotten a good answer.

O’DONNELL: Are you saying economic growth was good during the Bush years? ‘Cause those are just facts.

CANTOR: Well, we certainly had some intervening events that perhaps may make the comparison to other decades not, not relevant, not appropriate. Remember what happened, in the beginning of the Bush term this country was shaken by 9/11, and it shook the world.

Of course. Maybe the tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires would have worked had it not been for 9/11.

Except, that’s ridiculous.

That’s not only offensive, it’s factually wrong. Even split into five-year stretches, the Bush decade combined the two worst periods of growth in the past 50 years, and this CRS report indicates government actions in 2001 successfully “contained the short run economic effects of 9/11 on the overall economy.”

If Cantor wants to push the continuation of a failed economic policy, fine. That’s par for the course. But if he could do so without playing the 9/11 card, this would be slightly less offensive.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.