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Sunday, March 10, 2013

The New Yorker: The House of Pain - Will Eric Cantor Cure Republicans?

It's a tired idiom but, nonetheless, true that people of similar taste congregate in groups. "Birds of a feather flock together". So, what does one expect to hear from Congressman Paul Ryan when asked about his Republican conservative colleague, Congressman Eric Cantor?
"He's a fantastic Majority Leader," Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and a close friend, said.  

Ryan Lizza writes in the March 4th, The New Yorker about how Congressman Cantor is among the young faces in the Republican party who must design a winning political strategy to overcome the 2012 election setbacks.  "Eric keeps the trains running on time very efficiently," said Ryan; "...we need to do a better job of broadening our appeal and showing that we have real ideas and solutions that make people's lives better," Ryan said.

It's impossible to understand how Ryan and Cantor, who are political bookends, can do a better job of showing how they have ideas and solutions to make people's lives better, when they don't.

Here's my analysis about their "stupid" ideas (I just love Governor Jindal, for coming up with the use of that appropriate word):

1.  Cantor and Ryan aren't economists; they're politicians.  They believe cutting people's taxes makes everybody's lives better, without any proof whatsoever that this is true.  In fact, in countries like Singapore or Japan, the quality of life is excellent and people living there pay plenty of taxes.

2.  Cantor and Ryan are financially well off.  Their salaries alone are about $175,000 each, a year, paid by US tax payers.  Nevertheless, they believe in means testing Social Security for the rest of us, who worked very hard to earn our retirement, while receiving far less then their annual pay.  Every financial adviser I know includes the earned Social Security benefit in our retirement analysis.  Middle class people simply can't retire without knowing how much we're entitled to receive from our Social Security.  Means testing this benefit isn't fair to those of us who expect our benefit and it doesn't help future retirees, who currently pay into the program, to feel secure about retirement.  Means testing Social Security will likely delay many people from retiring, unless, of course, they're like Ryan and Cantor, who earn $175,000 annually. 

3.  Cantor and Ryan like each other's ideas. They apparently tell themselves how wonderful they are, but aren't open to compromise with people who disagree with them.  How can they "broaden their appeal", when they completely close down on opportunities to reach across the political aisle?  Their ideas are supported by right wing Tea-Party conservatives. Many of these activists live in denial about their immigrant origins, while they fight immigration reform. They largely believe government is the problem rather than the solution to America's problems, but they want border security, Medicare, highways to drive on and access to public tours of the White House.  Cantor and Ryan, and their flocks, can't broaden their Republican appeal, when they constantly bite the hand of government, that feeds them.

Eric Cantor's leadership role in the House should give him the opportunity to show statesmanship. Instead, his leadership contributes to the line-up of sour faced Congressional Republicans.  Although Cantor's leadership is painfully partisan, he won't let go of this dour personal affect, his entrenched right wing ideology or his flock of "think alike" friends.  

It's doubtful Cantor and Ryan can cure their Republican feather friends' pain. It's like trying to cure roosters from crowing.  Right wing Republicans are suffering from the pains of election losses, ideological and regional divisions, as Lizza describes.  

Obviously, however, Cantor and Ryan share an exclusive mutual admiration society; but, they have no right to inflict their brand of political pain on others, especially when their positions are loosing ground with immigrants and middle class people.

Hopefully, American voters will end the Cantor and Ryan political pain symposium and vote them, and their right wing colleagues, out of office in 2014.  


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