Cantor Pre-Empts Clinton, Ctd

November 14, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A reader writes:

You asked, “There are no parallels with this kind of direct undermining of the president on foreign policy that I can think of. Am I wrong?”

I can think of at least two from the Washington administration and one by Nixon against LBJ.

In 1791, Secretary of State Jefferson was involved in talks with the British ambassador.  Hamilton, fearful that Jefferson would take too hard a line, “secretly informed British officials that the secretary of state’s views did not represent administration policy and hence implied that they could be disregarded with impunity.”  (Alexander DeConde, A History of American Foreign Policy, p. 49)  Three years later, he undermined John Jay, who had been sent by President Washington to negotiate a treaty with the British: “Fearing any action that might endanger relations with the British, Hamilton blunted the only coercive weapon Jay possessed.  He told the British minister in Philadelphia that American policy was predicated on the principle of avoiding entanglement in European affairs and hence the US would not join the new armed neutrality.  Hamilton thus weakened Jay’s already shaky bargaining position.” (DeConde, p. 55).

More recently, and infamously, in October 1968, fearing an “October surprise,” the Nixon campaign used Anna Chennault to communicate to the Thieu government in South Vietnam that it should resist pressure from LBJ to participate in peace talks with the North Vietnamese.  Vice President Ky wrote: “out of the blue, Nixon’s supporters stepped into the picture. Approaches were made to Bui Diem, the Vietnamese ambassador in Washington, to the effect, ‘Hold on!  Don’t accept the invitation to go to Paris.  If Mr. Nixon is elected President he promises he will increase support for the Vietnam War.’” (Larry Berman, No Peace, No Honor, p. 33.)

These were all secret, of course – not public.  But sadly we have a history of undermining a sitting president’s foreign policy, all talk of politics ending at the water’s edge notwithstanding.

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Cantor, Israel, and the Midterms

November 14, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

There’s certainly something odd about House GOP leader Eric Cantor telling a foreign Prime Minister that he intends to side with the foreign government against US government policy. But of course all that’s really going on here is that Cantor is speaking a bit too candidly about something everyone knows to be true—the government of Israel’s policy preferences carry a lot of weight in the US Congress.

I think the more interesting issue is that objectively speaking Cantor’s claim that the GOP takeover of congress decreases Barack Obama’s leverage over Bibi Netanyahu is mistaken. After all, it was already the case before the election that Netanyahu had a working legislative majority in the House on key issues. The real change is the decline in importance of guys like Henry Waxman, Howard Berman, Anthony Weiner, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Alan Grayson, and other strongly AIPAC-friendly members of congress who are reliably liberal on domestic issues. It used to be that Barack Obama had an ambitious legislative agenda that relied on the active support of this group of people. That gave them some leverage even over the aspects of American foreign policy that the congress doesn’t have any formal responsibility for.

Now things have changed. It’s true that Eric Cantor will do what he can to obstruct Obama’s policy toward Israel, but Eric Cantor can also be relied upon to disagree with Obama quite systematically about almost everything. The result is that while Obama’s set of politically feasible options vis-à-vis Israel is still constrained, it’s in practice less constrained than it was before the election precisely because the other constraints on him are now tighter.


The Scandal Of Cantor And Netanyahu

November 13, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


It is not the first time that this kind of direct attack on the president's ability to conduct foreign policy has occurred under this administration. John McCain and Joe Lieberman have gone abroad to assure Israel that they will undermine their own president to advance the interests of a foreign country in a critical diplomatic discussion with the US on that country's soil. But Eric Cantor has gone one further, openly bragging about something he once described as a felony. Kevin Drum:

This is a legitimate scandal worthy of far more attention. When dealing with foreign policy and climate change, Republicans believe in trying to deliberately sabotage the position of the U.S. government. The same is true of U.S. policy towards Iran, and in the case of New START, possibly even U.S. policy towards Russia. Now it's true of U.S. policy towards Israel, too.

It's obviously not unreasonable for Americans to debate whether the Obama administration is pursuing the correct course on foreign policy, and I fully expect members of Congress from both parties to demand accountability of the White House. People can and should speak out when they disagree with the administration's approach to Israel, Iran, Russia, or any other country.

But Cantor's move is something altogether different. Just a few years after he suggested it was literally criminal for an American official to talk to a foreign leader and work against the sitting president, Cantor has done just that.

Where's the outrage?

Where indeed?

(Photo: Jim Watson/Getty.)

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Cantor Pre-Empts Clinton

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

He sides with the leader of a foreign country against the president of the U.S. on an issue of great diplomatic significance. Cantor, of course, directly supports Israel's continued occupation and colonization of the West Bank and uncontrolled settlement construction.Of course, just as significant as Cantor's direct attempt to undermine his own president by siding with a foreign leader is that foreign leader's agreement to meet with him in order to advance the cause of Greater Israel.

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

In An ‘Unusual’ Meeting, Cantor Tells Netanyahu The GOP Majority ‘Will Serve As A Check’ On Obama’s Israel Policy

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Earlier this week, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sharply criticized the Israeli government after it announced plans to build more than 1,000 Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. “This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations,” Obama said, while Clinton called the move “counterproductive.” Indeed, the Israelis in 2003 agreed to freeze all settlement activity to jumpstart the peace process and the Palestinians refuse to engage in direct talks in the absence of a freeze.

Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday in New York for more than seven hours without producing any diplomatic breakthroughs, though veteran Middle East negotiator Aaron Miller said that the length of the meeting was a good sign that the two leaders were “ironing out differences.” Politico’s Laura Rozen reports that in an “unusual, if not unheard of” move, Netanyahu also met Wednesday with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA). Cantor’s office stated that the presumptive Majority Leader would fight the Obama administration on behalf of Israel:

Regarding the midterms, Cantor may have given Netanyahu some reason to stand firm against the American administration.

Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington,” the readout continued. “He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.”

Rozen also noted that a “veteran observer of U.S.-Israeli relations Ron Kampeas said he found that statement ‘an eyebrow-raiser.’” “I can’t remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the president,” Kampeas wrote, later adding, “I have it on good authority that as late as last week, Bibi’s people were at pains to deny that such a meeting would take place.”

While Cantor’s office later told Kampeas that it disputes his interpretation of what Cantor’s office said happened in the meeting, this isn’t the first time Cantor has undermined the Obama administration’s policy on Israel. On a congressional delegation visit to Israel last year, Cantor offered support for Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and countered Clinton’s criticism of Israel’s handling of the eviction of two Arab families from a house in East Jerusalem earlier that week. “I don’t think we, in America, would want another country telling us how to implement and execute our laws,” Cantor said.

As the Wonk Room’s Matt Duss has repeatedly noted, the Israelis agreed to a total settlement freeze in the 2003 Roadmap for Middle East peace and that “since then, Israel has consistently and spectacularly failed to honor that commitment.” With Cantor getting Netanyahu’s back at the expense of official U.S. policy, it doesn’t seem likely that the Israelis will have much incentive to change course.


Cantor Refuses To Take Government Shutdown Or Default On U.S. Debt Off The Table

November 7, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

In an interview with Fox News Sunday this morning, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), the #2 Republican in the House, threatened to take the nation’s economy hostage if President Obama does not comply with House GOPers’ as yet undefined demands. When asked if he would take a government shutdown on forcing the United States to default on its debt off the table, Cantor responded that it would somehow be President Obama’s fault if House Republicans press this agenda:

QUESTION: Are you willing to say right now we’re not going to let the country go into default, and we won’t allow a government shutdown?

CANTOR:  Chris, look at this now.  The chief executive, the president, is as responsible as any in terms of running this government. The president has a responsibility, as much or more so than Congress, to make sure that we are continuing to function in a way that the people want.

Watch it:

It’s difficult to exaggerate just how harmful a shutdown or default would be for the United States and its economy. A “shutdown” occurs when Congress fails to appropriate money to fund the federal agencies. As a result, nearly every federal employee is sent home, including the officials who cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid checks. In other words, by threatening a shutdown, Cantor is holding the incomes of millions of American seniors hostage unless Obama complies with his petty demands.

The consequences of a default would be even worse — indeed, if a shutdown amounts to a hostage crisis, a default is the equivalent of shooting the hostage.  A default could occur if the House GOP refuses to authorize the Treasury to issue new bonds in order to cover the interest on the nation’s existing debt, and the results of such a default would be catastrophic.

If the world’s safest investment — US Treasury bonds — were essentially converted into junk bonds overnight, it would trigger a worldwide financial panic.  Meanwhile, the extraordinary economic steps America would need to take in order to mitigate the possibility of a default would pull more than a trillion dollars of spending out of the world economy, potentially triggering a second Great Depression.  And even if Cantor eventually backed down, the lasting effects of a default would drive up borrowing costs for the United States — jacking up our national debt in the process.

To date, Cantor has not indicated just how large a suitcase of small, unmarked bills the American people will need to deliver if they ever want to see their economy alive again. But there are early signs that Cantor’s ransom note will make pretty steep demands.  After acknowledging that Obama’s offered a hand to House Republicans after this week’s election, Cantor promptly tried to bite that hand off — warning that Republicans are “not going to be willing to work with him” on what Cantor describes as an “expansive liberal agenda.”


Cantor uses jobs report to make pitch for extending tax cuts

November 5, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Washington (CNN) – The man who is expected to be the next House majority leader says that ensuring that no one faces a tax increase will help the private sector take the lead in creating jobs.

Current House Minority Whip Eric Cantor made his comments moments after the release of October’s jobs report.

“On Tuesday, Americans spoke decisively about their priorities, concerns and the role government should play in their lives. It’s time to produce results, and job number one is getting people back to work. We must get the ‘for hire’ signs out of government windows and into the windows of small businesses. To do that, we need to end the uncertainty that continues to hang over the private sector, and that starts with ensuring that no one faces a tax increase in this economy,” says Cantor, a Republican from Virginia who is expected to become the next House majority leader.

The Labor Department reported Friday that the nation gained 151,000 jobs last month, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 9.6 percent, the Labor Department says. The report indicates that the private sector grew by 159,000 jobs.

“I am encouraged that the White House now seems to acknowledge that raising taxes in this environment will only make things more difficult for struggling small business people, families, and investors. In the spirit of working together and listening to the people, I hope that when Congress returns in 10 days we will pass legislation that ensures that no one faces a tax increase,” added Cantor.

According to CNN national exit polls, 39 percent of Americans say the tax cuts, implemented by President George W. Bush early in his administration, should be continued for all Americans, with 37 percent saying the cuts should be continued for families making under $ 250,000, and 15 percent saying the tax cuts should not be extended. The cuts are currently scheduled to sunset at the end of this year.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

CNN Political Ticker

Cantor Confirms GOP Wants To Defund Financial Reform: ‘That’s What The American People Are Expecting’

November 3, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Republicans on the House Financial Services committee have made no secret of their desire to defund and defang portions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, particularly the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (which does not stand on its own, divorced from the Congressional appropriations process, until July 2011). And now that they’ve gained a majority in the House of Representatives, the GOP’s game plan is kicking into gear.

Last night on CNBC, the potential House Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), said that House Republicans fully intend to deny funding to regulators seeking to implement the Dodd-Frank bill because, according to Cantor, “that’s what the American people are expecting”:

CANTOR: The House has the power of the appropriations process and the leverage that comes with that essentially puts us in a position to deny the administration funding for promulgating the regulations that carry through the missions of these two bills…And that’s what the American people are expecting. They want us to focus on job creation first they results.

BARTIROMO: So that’s what you’re going to do? You’re going to deny funding then? That’s one of your tools in the toolbox, deny funding?

CANTOR: Well, it is a check that this public is looking for on this runaway agenda of this administration. They don’t want to see any more spending, especially if it promotes policies that kill jobs. That’s what you’ve got, both with the Obamacare bill and the Dodd-Frank bill.

Watch it:

First off, according to Gallup, financial reform is the lone piece of legislation from the 111th Congress of which a majority of Americans approve. In fact, 61 percent of the public favors the bill.

In an interview with Bloomberg News last night, Financial Services Committee member Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) said that Republicans plan to “ensure that regulators such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the new consumer protection bureau do not write rules that lawmakers consider too restrictive on the banking industry.” “We don’t want them to regulate capriciously, arbitrarily, without engaging in a cost-benefit analysis,” he said. The Big Picture’s Barry Ritholz said that Hensarling’s pronouncement is “representative of a misguided economic cost/benefits analysis that was dominant during the three decades incorporating 1980s-2000s. Its fatal flaw is that it fails to include the expenses and impact of high cost events — like the 2007 recession, 2008 credit crisis, and 2009 market collapse.”

In addition to denying the regulators funding if they write rules that the GOP considers too restrictive, Republicans could also bog down the rule-writing process by hitting regulators with a slew of subpoenas and hearing appearances. And in the meantime, Wall Street will be free to go back to the risky practices that led to its — and the economy’s — downfall.

Wonk Room

Cantor announces run for House Speaker: His letter

November 3, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Cantor released the following letter announcing his intention to seek the Speaker’s Office.  The “governing document” referenced is available here.

The letter:

Dear Republican Colleague:

Congratulations on your election and for being a major part of a new Republican resurgence.  For the past two years, Democrats have refused to listen.  Now that we have been given a trust – we will not make that mistake.

I have long believed that success for the Republican Party is tied to success for America.  Thomas Jefferson once remarked that “governments are republican only in proportion as they embody the will of the people, and execute it.”

To that end, we must govern differently.  Not just differently than the Democrats, but differently from our previous majority.  And job number one is to focus on more jobs for more Americans and to shift the economy from stall to forward. It’s time to produce results.  Americans are asking for the opportunity to assume responsibility and get back to earning success.  I also believe we need to change the culture of Washington.  I believe that we must change the culture of spending that has prevailed for far too long.  And I believe we need to change our expectations of the Congress, the Leadership, the committees, and of each of us.

I have announced my intention to stand for election as Majority Leader because I am results oriented and I want to help lead that effort and bring about these changes.  I write not only to ask for your support, but also to outline some thoughts as to how we can seize the opportunity and make these changes.

Let us be under no illusion – many of those who cast their vote for Republicans yesterday have their share of doubts about whether we are up to the task of governing; about whether congressional Republicans have learned our lesson.

I harbor no such doubts.

For the past two years, House Republicans dedicated ourselves to developing alternative solutions grounded in the time-tested principles of fiscal responsibility and small-government.  On the stimulus, instead of pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into non-stimulative government programs, we proposed to give private-sector job creators an incentive to hire by exempting small businesses from 20 percent of their tax liability.

On health care, instead of the government takeover known as ObamaCare, we provided solutions such as medical liability reform and allowing the purchase of health care coverage across state lines which would lower costs while enabling families and patients to keep the care they have if they choose.

To create real jobs, we offered a “no cost jobs plan” that would cut unemployment by, among other things, halting the deluge of President Obama’s tax increases and approving negotiated free-trade agreements.

And on the budget, we challenged President Obama to freeze spending at 2008 levels, offered hundreds of billions of dollars in spending cuts, and enacted an earmark moratorium within the House Republican Conference.

Our efforts culminated with the release of the “Pledge to America,” in September.

Faced with an administration and a Pelosi-led Congress intent on reorienting the role of government in America, time and again we stood up against them.  Now it is our responsibility to lead with the same conviction, vigor, and fight.  Joined by our new Members, I know that we are ready for that challenge.

Having crisscrossed the country over the past year, I have consistently heard Republican candidates speak passionately about jobs and getting people back to work.  They have inspired by articulating the case for constitutionally limited government that empowers individuals, families, local communities, entrepreneurs, and small business people.  Our candidates have stood proudly for traditional values and have fought to ensure that we do not sacrifice our national security to political correctness or to a desire to win the approval of foreign elites.

We now have the opportunity to turn our words into action and produce real results.  Like you, I am anxious to get started.

Most of us ran for Congress because we wanted to tackle the big problems facing our nation.  We came to Washington to eliminate the deficit, to tear down barriers to job creation, and to reform a government that has grown out of touch with the governed.

I don’t think any of us ran for Congress with the idea that we could finally provide a subsidy to this industry or that, or to this community or that.  Or that we would vote to continue the same federal programs and agencies that are failing our citizens and bankrupting our children and grandchildren.  And I know none of us ran with the idea that we should go to Washington to congratulate a collegiate basketball team for having a good season – or feel obligated that we needed to do so – even if we happened to be a fan.

Yet that is what we have been doing under the recent Democrat majority and even all too often under the previous Republican majority.  Our problems have grown too immense to waste any more time.  America stands at a crossroads, and the decisions we make at this very moment will determine the type of country that our children will live in.

That is why we will drain the swamp rather than learning to swim with the alligators.  How?

We start by rethinking how time is spent and about the types of legislation that will be considered on the House floor.  We start by identifying our top policy goals and committing to take concrete steps every single week to advance those goals.  And we hold each other accountable with this simple question: are the actions of the House, our committees, and our Conference consistent with our principles and do they advance the nation’s priorities

We will not be able to roll back the leviathan overnight or balance the budget tomorrow or defeat terrorism once and for all next week, and people realize that.  They understand how big the problems facing our country are, the obstacles that stand in our way, and the old, ingrained powers of Washington that will fight us every step of the way.  Yet, people expect that we will fight each and every day to address these problems and make progress in every battle.  We must not fall prey to the culture of Washington that exacerbates and creates problems.  To put it simply, we must do the job we said we would do.  We’ve talked the talk, now it is time to walk the walk.

I know we are ready.

In the attached document, Delivering on Our Commitment: A Majority to Limit Government and Create Jobs, I outline some thoughts on how we can begin that effort.  Included is a particular focus on a sustained effort on jobs, reducing government spending, putting in place a new standard for prioritizing legislation, and how we strengthen oversight.

In thinking about and preparing this plan, I found myself guided by one simple proposition which I believe will be instructive for our efforts over the next two years: “Are my efforts addressing job creation and the economy; are they reducing spending; and are they shrinking the size of the Federal Government while increasing and protecting liberty?  If not, why am I doing it?  Why are WE doing it?”

I would greatly appreciate any thoughts, feedback, or suggestions you may have.  I know that by changing the culture and focusing on our priorities, ours will be a lasting and worthwhile legacy: that we will achieve what we said we came to accomplish, and in so doing, deliver on the type of conservative governance that has been promised.


Eric Cantor

Liberty Pundits Blog

Cantor to announce intention to run for House majority leader

November 3, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Washington (CNN) – A source close to Eric Cantor tells CNN that the Republican congressman will announce his intention to run for House majority leader at 10:45 a.m. in a written statement.

CNN Political Ticker

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