Rep. Cantor Admits House Republicans Have Not Been Focused On Jobs

September 07, 2011 4:15 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

When House Republicans rode into power touting a "cut and grow" agenda, their message was clear: reducing spending will create jobs. "To put it simply," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), "less government spending equals more private sector jobs."

It turns out, however, that it's not as simple as Cantor promised. While Republicans have forced through significant cuts to the federal budget, the jobs picture has actually deteriorated. At a press briefing today, Slate reporter Dave Weigel asked Cantor why "cut and grow" hasn't panned out the way Republicans sold it. Cantor responded by claiming Republicans have focused on the "cuts" side of the equation until now:

"We've been about cut and grow," he said. "The fact is, the last eight months plus, we've been about cuts. And that's why it is imperative that all of us join together, work with the president, to see how we can grow this economy. That's why I welcome the president's speech tomorrow night, I welcome him to Richmond on Friday. I also think it's imperative in the spirit of trying to reach results, and stop impugning motive, and calling people out, and insinuating people are putting politics above country."

Brian Beutler rightly interprets Cantor's response as a retreat from the conservative argument that spending cuts automatically lead to economic growth. But it's also a tacit admission that Cantor's been lying every time he claimed Republicans were focused on job creation. Here, for example, is what Cantor said in response to last week's jobs report:

Millions upon millions of Americans remain out of work — some for far too long of a time — and we must work to foster an environment that makes it easier for small businesses and entrepreneurs to grow and create jobs. For the past eight months, House Republicans have been squarely focused on common sense proposals to create jobs and grow the economy. 

And here's Cantor last month:

Republicans only control slightly more than half of one-third of Washington. Despite that, we have focused on jobs since day one, and finally begun to stop Washington from spending money that it doesn't have.

Cantor's statements leave two options: Either the GOP's attempts to boost job creation have backfired, or Cantor and his colleagues have been deceiving the American people for months about their commitment to creating jobs. So which one is it?