Cantor looks to kill half of American Jobs Act

Most, if not all, of the Republican congressional leaders have been rather cautious in their criticism of the American Jobs Act. It’s obvious they oppose it, and it’s equally obvious they’ll never pass it in its current form, but they’ve been reluctant to go on the attack, at least publicly.

But as the White House presents President Obama’s plan in legislative form, and hits the road to promote it, Republicans like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) are slowly dropping the pretense.

“Anything that is akin to the stimulus bill I think is not going to be acceptable to the American people,” Cantor told reporters at his weekly Capitol briefing Monday. “I don’t believe that our members are going to be interested in pursuing that. I certainly am not.”

A little more than half of the American Jobs Act is made up of tax cuts. Cantor, at least today, didn’t reflexively rule out these provisions.

Instead, what Cantor disapproves of are the parts of the proposal most likely to create jobs — infrastructure investments, job training, unemployment aid, and assistance to states to prevent public-sector layoffs. It’s as if the oft-confused Majority Leader looked at the plan, found the measures that would have the great impact to improve the economy, and immediately rejected them.

Brian Beutler asked Cantor whether the American Jobs Act would benefit the economy or not.

“I haven’t had a chance to see the bill, there is no bill yet, so I want to wait to see the bill,” Cantor said. “I will tell you that over half, I think, of the total dollar amount is so-called stimulus spending. We’ve been there, done that. The country cannot afford more spending like the stimulus bill.”

First, over half the bill is made up of tax cuts, not spending. Second, the spending in the Recovery Act immediately improved the American job market. Third, we can afford more spending like the stimulus bill, since we have vital infrastructure needs and it would cost far less to make those investments now than a few years from now.

It’s really not that complicated. Even Cantor should be able to grasp the basic policy details.

That said, Cantor’s offer a pretty big hint about the prospects of the American Jobs Act. Republicans aren’t quite willing to use phrases like “dead on arrival” in public, but they have no intention of taking the proposal seriously.

Why would they? They care more about hurting the president than helping the economy.