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!