Rep. Cantor's 'Compromised' Reasoning

July 25, 2011 5:50 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Earlier today, the White House put its weight behind Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) proposal to cut the deficit by $2.7 trillion, without any additional tax revenues, and increase the debt ceiling through 2012. Reid's surprising proposal satisfies the GOP's stated demands, but House Republicans appear ready to ignore it and move forward anyway with a short-term plan that Democrats oppose.

At a press conference this afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) emphasized that Boehner's new short-term proposal is not Cut, Cap, and Balance, which was evidently supposed to prove that Republicans are compromising. In Cantor's self-congratulatory words, the GOP's latest gambit is "a well thought-out and reasoned plan in which no side gets all that they want."

CANTOR: The plan that we just introduced to our members is a well thought-out and reasoned plan in which no side gets all that they want. We put out our plan as to what it is we want, the Cut, Cap and Balance plan, last week. This plan is not that. You know, the president said that he wants higher taxes and he wants a vote through the election. This plan doesn't have that in it. So, it is a situation where no side gets all that they want. This is a responsible plan that addresses the urgency of trying to make sure that we avoid default, which I know that we will, but then it sets in motion a process for real cuts so that we can live up to our obligation to the people that sent us here.


The Republican leadership is calling its magnanimous compromise the "Two-Step Approach To Hold President Obama Accountable." So much for bipartisanship.

For his part, Cantor continues to struggle mightily with the concept of compromise. Republicans still have not made any concessions to Democrats that conflict with GOP priorities; they've merely scaled back their offer from all of what conservatives want to most of what conservatives want. As Steve Benen puts it, there is "no comparison between Democratic offers to meet the GOP more than half-way, and a Republican offer to give themselves everything they want."

Finally, it's worth pointing out that Cantor would not accept his own reasoning if the parties were reversed. Neither the Recovery Act nor the Affordable Care Act, in their final forms, represented President Obama's first choice. But you don't see Cantor hailing the health care bill as a bipartisan achievement because Democrats who sacrificed the public option did not get "all that they want."