Now Rep. Cantor Wants To Get To Work?

December 21, 2011 11:57 am ET — Kate Conway

Rep. Eric Cantor

This morning on MSNBC, one of the House of Representatives' most dishonest political operatives tried to spin GOP intransigence on the payroll tax cut extension into a hit on Democrats. Misrepresenting the way the debate has played out, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) claimed that "the only difference that is at stake" in the dispute over the extension is: "Is it going to be a year or 60 days?"

Of course, that's a vastly dishonest oversimplification of an issue that's gotten tangled up by House Republicans' insistence on adding controversial riders to what should have been an easily passed yearlong extension. That left the Senate without a reasonable (or passable) proposal from the House, forcing them to compromise with a two-month extension.

Yet the fact that it's the House's game-playing that brought about the admittedly non-ideal two-month compromise didn't stop Cantor from accusing the Senate of shirking its duty by recessing after passing its extension. Incensed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said he won't call the Senate back to the capital, Cantor said pointedly, "We're here. We want to work together. ... Let's do our work like the American people are having to do."

CHRIS CILLIZZA (HOST): If the options are— if we get to December 28, December 29, and the options are a two-month extension or a failure to extend at all, which as you and I both know would raise taxes between $1000— far more than $1000 but certainly $1000 or more on people starting on January 1st, are you in the Republican conference prepared to go that route?

CANTOR: Chris, I don't even think that is an appropriate question because right now we can solve all of this and make sure the American people get what they deserve, which is some certainty and a yearlong resolution to say their taxes aren't going to go up. You know, you think about why people are frustrated in Washington. It's because we're here, the president's down the street at the White House, he's seemingly unwilling to come join us to say let's get this thing done. And I've heard him say, well, the only thing that's doable is a 60-day extension. How is that? The only reason he can say that is because Harry Reid said he's not coming back to town. So we're here, we want to work together, we want to provide for the working people and families of the middle class some certainty to say your taxes aren't going to go up. We've got time before the end of the year. Let's do our work like the American people are having to do. 


Needless to say, if your average working American tried pull a stunt on the job like House Republicans — putting together a shoddy project, forcing colleagues to scramble to redo poorly executed work, then blaming the other guy when their bosses aren't pleased — it probably wouldn't go over too well.

UPDATE: Rep. Cantor appears to be taking his dishonesty on tour. After his MSNBC appearance, he appeared on Fox News and told host Jenna Lee that he believes the only reason payroll tax negotiations didn't go smoothly is that "Harry Reid and his colleagues wanted to go home."

CANTOR: When the negotiations broke down last week on the issue of one year, we weren't very far apart at all. And I think that maybe it was just the fact that Harry Reid and his colleagues wanted to go home. And that's not an acceptable answer to the people of this country, especially—

LEE: Do you really believe that? Do you really believe that deep down, sir?

CANTOR: Yeah, I do.

JENNA: That really, the reason why they did that is they wanted to get out and dodge?

CANTOR: Jenna, I know that we weren't very far apart, so I cannot, I cannot for the life of me figure out any other reason.

Watch after the jump.