Eric Cantor’s Plan to Save the GOP

Ron Fournier of National Journal is following Eric Cantor around as the House Majority Leader terrifies DC’s infants (“Eric Cantor grabs a plastic dinosaur from the pile of toys in front of 1-year-old Mekhi Scott, taps the beast on the table and growls, ‘RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!’”) and fact-finds for a big speech intended to compel the Republican Party to reform. Unfortunately, if Fournier’s report is correct, Cantor’s recommendation will be to remain unwaveringly the party of small government by… championing a mixed-up agenda to further regulate and privatize American education:

Cantor visited the school for more than an hour to gather information for a speech Tuesday that his aides are billing as an important shift of tone for the Republican Party. The speech will attempt to cast the House GOP’s traditionally conservative policy agenda in terms that appeal to parents, explaining why school vouchers, tax breaks, repealing the health care law, and other Republican standards would “make life work better.”….

In his speech Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank, Cantor plans to ask Congress to require universities to warn students when their academic majors lack employment opportunities; to repeal the tax on medical devices, a provision of Obama’s health care overhaul; and to shift spending from political sciences to “hard” sciences such as cancer research.

More central planning, more commodification; if I didn’t know any better I’d think Representative Cantor was a crypto-New Dealer! Thank you, thank you; I’m here all week.

But, in seriousness, you can look at Cantor’s proposals here, thin as they are, and see quite clearly the predicament of the GOP’s hard-right. For them the rhetoric of small government is extremely important. It supplies the patina of high-minded political theorizing that movement conservatism needs if it’s to be understood as anything more than a vehicle for the identity politics grievances of wealthy and aged white guys. Gotta keep that Tenther torch alight.

Easier said than done, though, when your big ideas consist of sticking it to pointy-egghead liberal arts majors (emphasis on liberal), forcing service providers to disclose information they’d otherwise keep hidden, and cutting taxes for businesses. Not all of these are bad ideas, mind you; but the inclusion of redirecting science funding (which I’m going to assume has to do with public education) is a half-assed attempt to position Republicans as in favor of educational investment while at the same time furthering the mistaken idea that we have no choice but to follow the extremely successful George Osborne model.

The new Republican Party, everybody!

@eliasisquith

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22 thoughts on “Eric Cantor’s Plan to Save the GOP

  1. Fournier’s article was terrible. It contained little if any new information, and no new analysis. If you have any interest in politics, you’ve heard his story line before. The GOP is working on its image! Demography! Yawn!

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  2. make life work better

    Huh? I can understand “make life better”. And I can understand “make work better”.

    Make life work better? Maybe there’s a hyphen missing.

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    • All my STEM nephews and nieces can’t find work except from the Gummint. (Five of em with engineering degrees.) I’m not at all persuaded that we need more STEM majors out there. Anecdotally, acourse.

      Tho the one who has a rocket science degree would like nothing more than to design exactly those types of robots.

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      • I heard a rumor that the great depression meant that the best and brightest couldn’t find jobs anywhere *BUT* in the government… which meant that by the time the 50’s rolled around, they had established jobs with established roles in established positions and, hey, bird in the hand, right? (Especially with all of the trouble they saw around them as they aged… that’ll teach anybody to be pretty conservative job-wise.)

        As such, folks in the 50’s and 60’s grew up with the best and brightest working in government jobs around them.

        Of course, after a while, the best and brightest learned that they could make a *LOT* of money in the private sector rather than in the public… and, as such, the public sector didn’t have the best and brightest applicants to anywhere near the same degree as it used to and that resulted in a regression to the mean.

        And it makes you wonder about what pathologies would be introduced into the system if there is much truth to this theory.

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      • Right. I had an STEM major (Biology, with focus on molecular biology) for my bachelor’s and had no luck whatsoever finding work, so I went back to university for an MA.

        Finding work isn’t as simply as choosing one of a given selection of majors.

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      • STEM jobs are currently the ones on the fast track for outsourcing. We just spent 2 decades importing, educating and then shipping home a few million kids to India and other East Asian countries, what did you think was going to happen once they were all trying to figure out what to do with their degrees at home?

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    • I for one await the day when our killer robot overlords can not only design themselves but can make the kill/no kill decision on their own. and then the they can found Killco. and lobby for gov subsides for killing the people american will not Kill.

      but at least that will drive sales of drone safe burqas.

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  3. you know I would buy the Lighter and Softer sales pitch if they could make republicans in the states shut up for even 5 minutes. but i dont see that happening anytime soon.

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    • “you know I would buy the Lighter and Softer sales pitch if they could make republicans in the states shut up for even 5 minutes. but i dont see that happening anytime soon.”

      What’s frightening is that I know most of those guys are the bushest of bush-league politicians, but they’re still profesional politicians, which means that they have some filters on their mouths. So we still aren’t hearing all that they actually believe.

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