Last week, ThinkProgress called out House Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) for lying about the economic recovery bill, specifically for claiming that the bill would give more money to “grass” on the National Mall than to small businesses. In new interviews, he continues to peddle the same falsehood, even though House Democrats have now agreed to strip the “grass” funding completely.
More importantly, Cantor is lying about the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) assessment of the recovery bill by continuing to cite a preliminary, incomplete, and misleading CBO chart — despite the fact that the full report was released Monday, giving him plenty of time to arm himself with the truth:
— Well, I mean, you know, the lasting problem with this bill, not only will it not deliver real stimulus — even the Congressional Budget Office says it’s not stimulative — is that, you know, people and businesses and entrepreneurs are going to look out into the future and see trillions of dollars of additional debt. [CNBC, 1/28/09]
— I think first of all you have to focus spending on actual stimulus. You’ve got CBO saying that only 25 percent goes out in the first year. You’ve got to have some type of ability to provide that jobs will be created or maintained because of the government spending. [Interview with Marc Ambinder, 1/27/09]
Cantor’s complaints ring hollow. As to his first claim, the CBO analysis found that the recovery bill would have “a noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years.” As far as his second statement, the CBO report stated that about 65 percent of the funding would be spent by September 2010. (The report said it “would not be appropriate” to calculate spending in 2009 because “because the bill would be enacted almost halfway into the fiscal year.”)
Cantor’s lies are more evidence that the right wing is desperate for reasons to oppose the bill, despite President Obama’s unprecedented efforts to woo conservatives. Although Cantor and his allies have praised Obama for reaching out, behind closed doors they are demanding that all Republicans vote against the recovery bill:
[N]one of the Republicans in attendance spoke up in disagreement when urged to oppose the legislation by their leaders. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the party’s leader, and Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second in command, said they wanted “100 percent” opposition to the measure, which they argue includes billions in wasteful spending, these officials said.
Now former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — who has proved capable at telling House Republicans what to do — is seeking to corral the opposition, offering an emphatic “no” when asked if conservatives should support the bill.
Despite Cantor’s efforts, it seems he and his caucus might not be exactly on the same page. On NPR this morning, Cantor “thanked” Obama for “working with us” to include “some terrific tax provisions in the bill.” At the same time, however, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) insisted on Fox News, “Republicans have had no input whatsoever in the development of this so-called stimulus bill.” On CNN, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said of House Republicans’ complaints, “I don’t think they ought to whine about the process.”