As congressional Democrats presented some of the detailed spending-cut ideas yesterday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) didn’t like some of the Dems’ ideas on health care savings.
“That’s something we never agreed to in the Biden talks,” Cantor said.
Those, of course, would be the Biden talks that Cantor abandoned two weeks ago because he didn’t approve of the terms. Nothing was “agreed to” in the Biden-led negotiations because Cantor quit.
At this point, I can only assume the Majority Leader doesn’t understand what words like “agreement” and “compromise” even mean. On Monday, Cantor insisted that Republicans declining to crash the economy on purpose should count as a concession. On Tuesday, he confused an offer and a deal.
“We both agree on doing something that’s good for the country, which is dealing with entitlements,” the Virginia Republican said after a nearly two-hour meeting at the White House on Tuesday. “Why don’t we just do that? Why do we have to sit here and say we still got to raise taxes when we don’t agree on that? We both agree on entitlements, and in fact, we would both agree on what the president’s prescription for entitlement reform is.”
We don’t know all of the details of what the president was willing to do on entitlements — the fact that Cantor liked the offer wasn’t a good sign — but note how strikingly dumb Cantor’s understanding of the process is.
In this case, Obama was willing to offer entitlement cuts as an incentive to get Republicans to budge. Cantor heard the offer and thought, “Well, we agree on entitlements, so there’s no need to go further.” In other words, he just wasn’t quite sharp enough to realize the president was trying to make some sort of trade, making a concession in exchange for a comparable concession.
As Kate Conway put it, “Only someone as disingenuous as Cantor could say without a hint of irony that the president’s offer to give something up as he tries to broker compromise with the GOP is the same as an agreement to do so with no strings attached.”