House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) effectively declared that the American Jobs Act has no chance of passing the House, confirming what has long been assumed. He did, however, express some tepid GOP support for economic measures that would have almost no impact whatsoever, which he sees as preferable to a pointless White House effort to convince congressional Republicans to be responsible.
“I think at this point Washington has become so dysfunctional that we’ve got to start focusing on the incremental progress we can make,” Cantor said.
Oh, I see. Cantor is troubled by political dysfunction. Jonathan Cohn’s reaction was very much in line with my own.
Washington has become so dysfunctional. Yes it has. And why is it that, Mr. Majority Leader? Could it have something to do with the party that uses the filibuster as a matter of routine, imposing a super-majority requirement on all legislation and blocking even uncontroversial presidential nominees from coming to a vote? Could it have something to do with party that decided to play chicken with the country’s credit limit, a virtually unprecedented move that caused real harm to the economy? Could it have something to do with the party that turned down ridiculously lopsided compromises — lopsided in its favor — because it holds an absolutist position on taxes that would decimate the welfare state?
No, Democrats aren’t blameless, either for the culture of Washington or the failure to pass meaningful legislation. Even now, conservative Democrats are resisting some parts of the jobs bill, particularly in the Senate. But for Cantor, of all people, to bemoan the dysfunction of Washington gives chutzpah a bad name.
Making matters slightly worse, Jason Zengerle has a new profile of the oft-confused Republican, and Cantor told him the message he’s shared with his caucus: “[W]e are in essence a blocking minority in Washington,” he told me. “We control half of one-third of government, and so we can for sure block bad things from happening legislatively. But it’s hard when you are in the majority in just the House to try and proffer and accomplish the kinds of things you want if the other side is not going to go along with it. And it’s hard to even start to compromise or find some points of agreement when you’re in this kind of supercharged political environment.”
Yes, who created this supercharged political environment and took compromises off the table?
Even putting that aside, at a certain level, we’d be lucky if the House majority merely saw itself as a blocking minority. But that’s really not quite right. Instead, they prefer the role of hostage takers, normalizing extortion politics to force policies they otherwise couldn’t get.
It’s against this backdrop that Cantor decries how “dysfunctional” Washington is. Please.