Mr. Cantor has been attacked from all sides by political Monday-morning quarterbacks – for supposed arrogance, for ignoring his constituents, for being too moderate, too pro-business, not free-market enough, weak on the border issues, and so on.
… now that it is fashionable to treat Mr. Cantor as the piñata for everything that is wrong in Washington, I’d like to take a moment to do something no one else has done: Defend him.
Economist Stephen Moore does just that as he proceeds to list the many accomplishments of Majority Leader Cantor during his years in conservative leadership (see The underappreciated Eric Cantor):
First, for those friends on the right who say that Eric Cantor is a sellout or insufficiently conservative, his track record speaks for itself. When he became majority leader of the House, the budget deficit was $1.4 trillion, and potentially headed to $2 trillion as the Left called for more “stimulus.” It was the House Republicans who brought that spending and borrowing binge to a screeching halt. The deficit is now $400 billion, a $1 trillion improvement.
Federal spending has fallen over the three years Mr. Cantor has been the House leader. That’s the first time it’s dropped since the 1950s.
Here’s the point: No one on Capitol Hill is singularly more responsible for that remarkable improvement than Eric Cantor.
To emphasize Cantor’s willingness to go up against the Democrats on spending, Moore continued:
… it was Mr. Cantor who was the lead negotiator for the Republicans and went face-to-face in those fierce negotiations with Barack Obama and Senate majority leader Harry Reid. He also was a key leadership voice in repelling major tax hikes sought by Obama.
Those who doubt this history should read Bob Woodward’s book on the day-to-day fiscal negotiations. Mr. Cantor refused to budge even when some in his own party – including Speaker John Boehner – were willing to take tax hikes as part of a grand budget package.
How many remember — or care — that Congressman Cantor went toe-to-toe against President Obama? When he addressed the 7th Congressional District convention in May, the anti-Cantor forces weren’t interested in hearing what he had to say and, indeed, jeered as he tried to speak. It was amazing to see the negative attitudes after Cantor had laid it all on the line for them against the White House. Indeed, Moore notes:
To liberals, Mr. Cantor was the villain. To conservatives, in those dark months when the nation was about to drive off a debt cliff, Mr. Cantor shone. These are just facts.
The 2011 budget deal, with budget caps and spending cuts, was the great conservative victory of the last decade – with the most liberal president since Woodrow Wilson – and Mr. Cantor has never received the gratitude from conservatives he deserves.
However, Cantor held his ground for his constituents, for all Virginians, and for all Americans.
Indeed, Moore wrote:
[Cantor] could have sold out to the Left’s demands for a tax hike to seal the “grand bargain,” and lesser men would have buckled under to the pressure. Most would have relished the praise that was sure to come from the New York Times and CBS for being a “statesman.” (Who knows, he might have even won a Profiles in Courage award from Caroline Kennedy.)
Eric Cantor, Moore added, “is a Reaganite supply-sider on taxes and growth.” And he adds:
To those who say Eric Cantor is no conservative, I respectfully say: Nonsense.
The remainder of Stephen Moore’s article is worth the time to read. It needs to be shared so voters know the real Eric Cantor, not the caricature talked about in blogs and talk radio.
The loss of Congressman Cantor, the second most powerful Republican in Washington, is going to be felt for a while and the ripples will reach areas few realized including fundraising, leadership positions in the U.S. House, and money and jobs for Virginia especially in the defense areas.