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A young gun shots himself in the foot: Eric Cantor’s small business record

Eric Cantor parrots he’s good for small business so often, I’m beginning to wonder if he’s trying to convince us or himself. Frankly speaking there’s not enough to do either.


‘I am Eric Cantor, and I approve this message.’ I hadn’t invited Eric Cantor into my home, but seeing as this wasn’t a restless billionaire hailing bombs from the shadows of a super PAC, my ears perked up. Cantor looked directly in the camera and with a sincerity scantily befitting the wispy substance of his words said he was good for small business. For all the truth contained in this self promotion, Cantor may as well have spent the 30 seconds claiming to have the power to churn butter into gold.


According to Bloomberg, the devout fiscal conservative voted to add 3.4 trillion dollars to the deficit; rubber stamping two unfunded wars, massive unfunded tax cuts primarily to stratospheric incomes, a wall street bailout, and Bush’s unfunded Medicare drug program. As Cantor voted to give incomes in the top 2 percentile 40% of the tax breaks, he simultaneously voted to deregulate financial markets. Even after the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations detailed how Wall Street’s deception, hijinks, and outright unethical behavior led to a shock and awe level economic crisis; Cantor not only opposes the modest regulations enacted, he strenuously champions further deregulation.


As such Cantor’s fiscal policies created the climate that the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates shed 8.8 million jobs and $19.2 trillion in household wealth. Currently the 400 richest people in America have more wealth than the bottom 150 million. Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley Robert Reich, in Beyond Outrage argues that policies that concentrate wealth at the top weakens the middle class and hurts small businesses as consumers are forced to cut spending, crippling demand for products and services. The economy runs on demand and as such is the basis for job creation. A person opens a coffee shop. If consumers can’t justify spending five dollars of disposable income to buy a latte due to economic hardship; negligible demand will not only curb the business’ incentive to hire, it will also threaten the solvency of the enterprise. Supporting Reich’s position, data shows 170,000 small businesses were lost due to the recession.


Aside from policy indirectly hurting the middle class and business, Cantor gave a peek under the small business fig leaf in the 2011 fake debt ceiling crisis. He gnashed his teeth and shook his fist at the president, angry at the expiration of the Bush tax cuts on people earning over 250,000 a year. Cantor was so resolute in protecting the super wealthy, he walked out of negotiations to protest dialogue on closing tax loopholes for corporate jet owners and ending unnecessary subsidies for the oil industry. Truth is Cantor couldn’t have been acting on behalf of small business as the Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center  estimates only 1.9 percent of small businesses earn over 250,000 a year!


At the end of 2011, President Obama addressed a joint session of congress to introduce the American Jobs Act; legislation Moody’s estimates would create 1.9 million jobs. It includes bipartisan ideas such as tax cuts for 98% of small businesses, a payroll tax cut, tax cuts for employers hiring veterans and people that’s been unemployed long term, investment in infrastructure, investment to prevent the further wholesale layoff of teachers, firefighters, and policemen, and an extension of unemployment insurance. The plan added nothing to the deficit and Americans overwhelmingly supported it. Cantor however bragged he wouldn’t even bring it to the floor for a vote.


Cantor’s latest legislation, the ‘Small Business Tax Cut Act’, is an apt representation of his time in Congress. Optics over substance. Cantor’s spin has been astonishingly misleading. The broad definition of what constitutes a small business allows operations by Oprah and Trump, multi-million dollar professional sports teams, hedge funds, lobbying firms, and some corporations with income in the billions to be eligible for the tax breaks.  Simultaneously, many actual small businesses, such as family owned, will not be eligible to receive anything.  The New York Times’ editorial More help for the wealthy exposes that half of the $46 billion tax cut is designed to go to people with annual income over $1 million, and more than four-fifths would go to those making over $200,000.’  


Continuously parroting something doesn’t make it true. Cantor continuously brands himself the mom and pop shop hero. Fact is, Cantor’s black and white record reveals he has been good for small business in the same way hunters are good for the deer population. As nimble and swift of foot he may believe himself to be, he can’t run far enough or fast enough to escape the simple truth of his voting record over the past 11 years. To his credit, Eric Cantor has fought like gangbusters for the super rich. In claiming credit for a career targeted at aggrandizing small business, the self proclaimed young gun shoots himself in the foot.