This morning on NBC, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) went on the Today Show to talk about “what Republicans want to hear” in President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight. Cantor replied that he should talk about “a real commitment to putting this economy back on track” and “put the focus back on the issues that are important to people — empowering small businesses.”
Lauer then pointed out according to a new poll, the public blames congressional Republicans most for why the country is on the wrong track. Cantor tried to say that the Republicans have been “ready and willing” to work with Obama, even on the stimulus, until Lauer called him out:
CANTOR: Matt, we have stood ready and willing to work with this President since his first day in office. We were there when the stimulus discussion occurred —
LAUER: And nobody supported it —
CANTOR: — making sure — No, we had a Republican plan — making sure that we wanted to create jobs at half the cost of what the President’s plan was. I think everybody would agree now that the stimulus hasn’t worked. We’ve also proffered to the President a health care proposal. I think the American people have spoken out on that. We saw the results of the elections in Massachusetts, Virginia, and New Jersey. Clearly the people do not like this health care plan.
First, simply being “there” when “the stimulus discussion occurred” isn’t enough. Republicans weren’t standing “ready and willing” to do anything with the President, except block any idea he put forward. As Lauer pointed out, every single House Republican voted against the stimulus. Since then, however, Republicans — including Cantor — have been embracing, and even taking credit for, the jobs created by the stimulus funds they opposed. Additionally, economists say that the stimulus is actually helping the economy recover.
The jobs plan that Republicans put forward was actually, as Salon’s Andrew Leonard wrote, a “magic pony jobs plan.” Cantor called it “a no-cost jobs plan,” and it basically consisted of cutting regulations, freezing spending, and cutting taxes — hardly a winning prescription for creating jobs. Last month, when asked by the Economist to name a Republican “big idea” for job creation, Cantor couldn’t come up with a single idea.
On health care, voters in Massachusetts did not vote for Scott Brown as a rejection of Democratic reform proposals. Seventy percent of voters said they want Brown to work with Democrats, 52 percent said they were satisfied with Obama’s agenda, and 68 percent (including a majority of Brown voters), approve of Massachusetts’ health care program, which contains many of the same elements contained in federal proposals. Cantor and his Republican colleagues have also been far from “ready and willing” to work with Obama on this issue. In fact, when asked by NBC a few months ago about what “compromises” Republicans would be open to making with Democrats, Cantor couldn’t come up with anything.