Republican aides are calling out the White House for scheduling President Barack Obama’s remarks on avoiding the sequester at the same time House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is delivering a major address Tuesday afternoon.
Cantor’s address to the American Enterprise Institute at 1 p.m. has been on the books for weeks, and is billed by his aides as an agenda-setting speech — and one, that according to excerpts, will continue the party’s shift away from a singular focus on fiscal issues.
“Why are they so worried about Americans hearing positive ideas on how to help working families,” asked a Cantor aide. “We’re flattered they’re putting so much emphasis on Leader Cantor’s remarks.”
The problem for Republicans here is that Cantor’s speech is not of Earth-shattering importance by any means. According to Politico:
Cantor plans to introduce his vision of America in a Tuesday speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. It includes granting more visas for highly educated workers, eliminating medical-device taxes and simplifying tax filings. His aides concede that all he’s doing is “taking policies that have been on the shelf for a while, or back burner, and elevating them.” He’s not completely abandoning Republicans’ core focus on slashing spending, just pairing it with other more palatable talk.
So it’s basically all the same old crap, arranged in a different order. Cantor’s trying to sell the same stuff no one likes by putting it into a brand new box. As Steve Benen says, “After digesting their 2012 setbacks, Republicans are absolutely convinced that the only thing standing between the party and electoral success is better rhetoric — the public would love the far-right agenda, if only GOP officials presented it in a more compelling fashion.”
Politico calls Cantor’s speech “Cantor 4.0.” “This isn’t Cantor’s first crack at repackaging Republicanism,” we’re reminded. “Or second. Or third.” It’s the fourth time Eric Cantor’s tried the same old “let’s pretend we’re different now” strategy. It’s a tiresome exercise in futility — does he really believe it’s going to work any better the fourth time than it did the first?
This may very well be one of the least consequential speeches of Eric Cantor’s career. No one’s going to lose any sleep over not watching it live. Republicans can stop whining now.