I just about spewed my cookies when I saw this post regarding Eric Cantor. Cantor, very wisely, advises fellow Republicans to “avoid unnecessary conflict.” Well, yes. I frequently get blasted by conservative ideologues for insisting that there are occasions when it makes no sense to push issues to an all-or-nothing, edge-of-cliff face-off. As a general matter of strategy and tactics, conservatives recently have, quite arguably, tended to err a little too much in that direction for our own long-term good.
But then Cantor got specific, and he is as wrong as wrong can be (I’m quoting NRO’s Andrew Stiles here):
He [Cantor] simply suggests that House Republicans stick to the spending levels called for in the recent debt-ceiling deal, as opposed to trying to push for deeper cuts.“While all of us would like to have seen a lower discretionary appropriations ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year, the debt limit agreement did set a level of spending that is a real cut from the current year level,” Cantor writes. “I believe it is in our interest to enact into law full-year appropriations bills at this new lower level.”
This is nonsense. It’s sickening. The recent agreement’s limits were just that: limits, not mandates. They are part and parcel of the same agreement that calls for another $1.5 trillion in savings. There is no reason, not on God’s green Earth, that some of that $1.5 trillion can’t come from domestic discretionary appropriations, even in advance of any deal reached by the “supercommittee.” Any additional savings achieved through the appropriations process this fall will only make the supercommittee’s job easier. And, of course, there remains so much incredible, unfathomable, indefensible waste in domestic discretionary spending that it makes no sense to put further savings from that area out of bounds. As a matter of fact, I have long argued that it is on individual Approps bills, where individual extravagances can be focused on and highlighted, that the best, least politically dangerous, most politically advantageous case can be made for cutting spending. The fight over the omnibus bill in the spring, halfway through the year, was not the best time to fight. Nor was the debt ceiling the best place to draw a line in the sand, although (thanks to John Boehner, whose achieved far more than conservatives give him credit for) that fight worked out better than I had feared.
But if Congress actually does its job and passes Approps bills one by one, in plenty of time, rather than throwing everything into a massive omnibus bill, then it becomes far easier to make the case for individual cuts.
Cantor’s advice here is the advice of a capitulator. It is disgusting. I am not advocating another “to-the-cliff” battle, but rather a series of carefully chosen skirmishes, all on behalf of the taxpayer.
Shame on Cantor.