Eric Cantor's Chutzpah

by Jonathan Chait | August 22, 2011

Eric Cantor's op-ed laying out the Republican agenda is filled with the kind of distortions you'd expect, but this passage deserves special commendation. After decrying a National Labor Relations Board Ruling, he continues:

Such behavior, coupled with the president’s insistence on raising the top tax rate paid by individuals and small businesses, has resulted in a lag in growth that has added to the debt crisis, contributing to our nation’s credit downgrade.

So Cantor is arguing that S&P downgraded U.S. debt because of President Obama's future plans to increase the top tax rate. That's such a mind-boggling claim that even Cantor cannot bring himself to put it in quite these terms. So instead he breaks it into a series of steps.

First, he claims that the future promise of upper-bracket tax hikes "has resulted" in a lag in growth. (Question: if the mere possibility of future tax hikes is enough to depress growth, why don't we go ahead and just raise taxes? If we're going to get the slower growth anyway, might as well get the revenue, right?)

Second, the lag in growth "caused" by hypothetical future tax hikes added to the debt crisis.

Third, the debt crisis contributed to the downgrading of the debt.

It's a fairly brilliant bit of rhetoric. After all, S&P specifically cited the Republican threat to fail to lift the debt ceiling and Republican refusal to consider any tax increases as the cause of the downgrade. cantor has found a way to present Obama's support for higher taxes as the cause of the downgrade. That's so brazen I almost have to admire it.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-chait/93995/eric-cantors-chutzpah