CANTOR CLAIMS CREDIT FOR DEMOCRATS’ JOBS RECORD…. Oh, Eric Cantor. Are there are any foolish claims you won’t make?

Yesterday, House Democrats took note of the fact that it was the 100th day of the new Republican rule in the chamber. Most notably, Dems emphasized the fact that the GOP, despite a year of campaign promises, haven’t even considered any jobs bills, with Republicans instead preferring to waste time on pointless gamesmanship and culture war crusades.

As if to say, “Oh yeah?” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) turned to Twitter to respond to the Democratic argument.

Now, when it comes to the arithmetic, at least Cantor’s count is correct. The first three months of 2011 have been pretty good for the job market — overall the economy has created 478,000 jobs, and if we look exclusively at the private sector, the total reaches 564,000 jobs.

The problem, of course, is the breathtaking shamelessness of the oft-confused Majority Leader claiming credit for these encouraging job numbers.

Indeed, by Cantor’s own reasoning, the boast doesn’t even make any sense. How can all of these jobs be created in the midst of Obama-induced uncertainty? And with crushing tax rates so high? And with pesky regulations stifling the engines of ingenuity? Are we to believe Republicans’ mere presence in the House of Representatives is enough to overcome these burdensome hurdles? And if so, why do we need to act on the GOP agenda at all?

For that matter, how can all of these jobs be created when Republicans haven’t actually passed any economic policies? Apparently, just knowing Republicans are working hard on abortion legislation that can’t pass and attacking NPR has inspired employers nationwide.


The reality here is so easy to understand, even Eric Cantor should recognize it. The job market in late 2008 and early 2009 was in freefall, devastated by failed Republican policies, with the economy shedding nearly 800,000 jobs per month. The Recovery Act passed in February 2009, and the employment picture immediately began to improve. We saw growth continue throughout 2010 — even after those rascally Democrats passed health care reform and Wall Street reform — while Republicans said Dems were killing the economy.

These successes built a healthier economy and a foundation for the kind of job growth we’re starting to see in 2011. If Eric Cantor, with exactly zero legislative victories under his belt, wants to claim credit for this, he’s either not very bright, or he’s assuming we’re not very bright.

Kevin Drum makes a compelling case for the latter — Cantor’s message is “almost comically shameless,” but the Republican makes the case anyway because Republicans are “willing to be shameless and they don’t really care if anyone calls them on it.” After all, “If you say that your policies are responsible for economic growth enough times, people will believe it.”

Alas, that’s true. We would ideally have a news media that would offer a disincentive for nonsense like this — political leaders wouldn’t want to appear foolish for making demonstrably ridiculous claims, knowing that reporters would call them on it — just as, ideally, we’d have House leaders who knew what they were talking about and wanted to tell the public the truth. That’s not in the cards.

But for anyone who cares about the facts, they’re readily available, and they’re the opposite of what Cantor claims.

Steve Benen

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.