Rep. Cantor Invokes 9/11 To Avoid Explaining Terrible Economic Growth After Bush Tax Cuts

April 13, 2011 1:21 pm ET — Alan Pyke

The GOP leadership is hard at work prebutting President Obama's speech this afternoon, mostly by insisting that repealing the Bush tax cuts is not an option. But tax breaks for the rich remain deeply unpopular with voters, and the GOP just rolled out a budget that cuts the top tax rate from 35 to 25 percent while imposing steep cuts to safety net programs that the GOP's wealthy constituents don't use.

Accordingly, conservatives are trying to flip the tax conversation around and "force President Obama to explain why he is willing to sacrifice prosperity for wealth distribution," as 2012 hopeful Newt Gingrich wrote to supporters in an email today. On MSNBC this morning, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wondered, "How are you gonna raise revenues? Do you just raise taxes and through a magic wand you're gonna produce more money? Or do you try and grow this economy?"

Ending the high-end Bush tax cuts would in fact "grow this economy." We're coming to the end of the single worst decade of economic growth since World War II — brought to you by the same Bush policies that Republicans are pushing today. When MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell managed to make that point to Cantor, he first scoffed ("Norah, I don't know where you're getting those numbers,") and then claimed that "the comparison to other decades [is] not relevant" because "in the beginning of the Bush term, this country was shaken by 9/11."

Watch:

CANTOR: Again, Norah, I don't know where you're getting those numbers, because I think clearly, when you—

O'DONNELL: Are you saying economic growth was good during the Bush years? 'Cause those are just facts.

CANTOR: Well, we certainly had some intervening events that perhaps may make the comparison to other decades not, not relevant, not appropriate. Remember what happened, in the beginning of the Bush term this country was shaken by 9/11, and it shook the world. And, and so again, we took time for sorta the readjustment and the rethink here, that we need to start thinking the unthinkable.

That's not only offensive, it's factually wrong. Even split into five-year stretches, the Bush decade combined the two worst periods of growth in the past 50 years, and this CRS report indicates government actions in 2001 successfully "contained the short run economic effects of 9/11 on the overall economy."

Cantor's plan is as simple as it is audacious: parrot supply-side talking points until someone points out the failures of supply-side economics, then refuse to engage the facts and hit your opponents over the head with 9/11. 

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