The Pesky Public

Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was supposed to speak about “income inequality and how to increase opportunities for success” at the business school of the University of Pennsylvania Friday.

And then he called it off. He was apparently worried that protestors from the Occupy Philadelphia movement would show up at the talk.

According to an article by Quan Nguyen and Robert Moran in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Cantor (R., Va.) was scheduled to speak at Penn’s Wharton School at 4:30 p.m. but backed out earlier in the afternoon, indicating that it had been his understanding the speech would be open only to people affiliated with the university.

In a statement, his office said it “was informed last night by Capitol Police that the University of Pennsylvania was unable to ensure that the attendance policy previously agreed to could be met.”

There was, however, no special attendance policy agreed to. According to Penn, “The Wharton speaker series is typically open to the general public, and that is how the event with Majority Leader Cantor was billed.”

After the protesters learned of the planned event from the Penn student newspaper they apparently planned to demonstrate outside the building where Cantor would speak. The protesters weren’t apparently planning to disrupt the speech.

Cantor planned to remark that,

There are politicians and others who want to demonize people that have earned success in certain sectors of our society. They claim that these people have now made enough, and haven’t paid their fair share. But, pitting Americans against one another tends to deflate the aspirational spirit of our people and fade the American dream.

Well yes, though one might argue that vast disparities in income and wealth, coupled with a tax policy that supports the very rich and hurts the poor and middle income, tends to deflate the aspirational reality of the people of the United States.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer