Good Riddance To Rep. Eric Cantor: Bagman For Wall Street And The War Party

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by David Stockman of Contra Corner blog,

Its possible to describe Rep.Eric Cantor as a serial sell-out. But that would be giving an unprincipled politician driven by an unalloyed ambition to climb the greasy pole of Washington power too much credit. In truth, Cantor never campaigned for any recognizable principle; he merely maneuvered his way to the top of the House GOP hierarchy by following in the tawdry footsteps of modern GOP bagmen like Tom DeLay and Roy Blunt.

One commentator had Cantor pegged right on the money, as it were, years ago. One the heels of the 2010 GOP landslide, it was evident that Cantor’s true ambition was to accumulate a massive war chest to further his own ambitions, not to seize on the tea party momentum to fundamentally reverse the tide of Big Government:

Hand-picked by Majority Whip Roy “Abramoff-R-Us” Blunt early in his tenure to be a deputy whip, sort of an official water-carrier, Cantor moved up swiftly through the ranks as a Blunt protégé, because he was cheerfully obedient when sitting in the room with Friends of Abramoff and because he was unusually good at the money. “He’s about the money,” one wag offers admiringly.

But he was never about conservative principles. Instead, Cantor is one of those post-Reagan Republicans who have managed to reduce conservative policy to such grandiose, content-free platitudes that there is never any danger that their stump speeches at home, or even on the floor of the House, will get in the way of doing Washington business as usual.

There are certain litmus tests that cogently demonstrate the difference between platitude and principle—-and one of them pertains to the matter of crony capitalist subsidies and tax breaks for big business. On that score, I once heard Cantor give a stem-winder in behalf of free markets at a conference full of business and financial types who nodded, applauded and whooped it up. But that was just a pro forma sermon. The next day he was back in Washington making sure that the Ex-Im bank authorization was extended for another 3-years.

In this case, Washington business as usual amounts to salving the spurious complaint of Boeing and General Electric lobbyists that the Brits, EU and Japan subsidize export finance for aircraft, jet engines and heavy capital equipment—-so American taxpayers need to level the playing field. Well, yes, if US policy is to be driven by the statist and socialist mistakes of foreign governments then by all means tax American farmers and bus drivers so that Boeing will make its quarterly EPS.

There is an alternative. Let Boeing and GE suffer a hairline reduction in EPS by providing their own concessional pricing to customers, while shielding millions of innocent US taxpayers and business from being dunned for the tab on April 15. Then let the free market decide where to allocate capital; and let America’s businesses, not Washington bureaucrats, discover where they have the greatest competitive advantage in both domestic and foreign markets, including the ones that are rigged by foreign governments which have an addiction to wasting taxpayer money.

What the beltway statists like Cantor do not understand is that there is no magic level of GDP, or Washington enabled quarterly rate of growth to get there. And most certainly there is no reason to believe that higher taxes on most of the economy to boost a thin but politically noisy sub-segment— commercial aircraft and jet engines—will make the GDP bigger and the nation wealthier.

The true conservative touchstone, therefore, is to let the free market decide how much GDP and how much growth. These should be an unplanned outcome on the free market, not a consequence of Washington-divined targets and beltway-directed policy interventions.

And the political rhetoric that goes with that proposition would intuitively resonant with the American public. Namely, that Washington meddling, regulating, subsidizing and taxing will make things worse, not better; and that the job of generating economic growth and employment belongs to the collectivity of American business, labor, entrepreneurs, savers and investors, not a handful of fixers inside the beltway. That is, twin peas-in-a-pod like Senator Chuck Schumer on the Left and Rep. Eric Cantor on the Right.

So his record speaks for itself. Rep. Cantor was a statist who had learned to lip-sync the platitudes of the modern Republican right. But on the defining issues of our times, he did not trust the free market for a moment, and did not have the slightest clue as to what fiscal rectitude requires after decades of Keynesian borrow and spend.

The fraught moment came on October 3, 2008 when he helped Hank Paulson, the Goldman Sachs plenipotentiary then occupying the 3rd floor of the Treasury Building, force the House GOP rank-and-file into a catastrophic retreat. That is, after properly rebuking the White House demand to bail-out the Wall Street gambling houses by voting “no” on the first TARP consideration, House Republicans were forced into a shameful about face on the second vote.

As much as anyone else, Eric Cantor bears the blame for this final and irreversible triumph of Big Government. It marked the full-dress return of the Keynesian policy model—-the prior defeat of which had been the one and only victory that the Reagan era actually accomplished on the battlefield of ideas. But Cantor’s platitudinal conservatism was so shallow that in the hour of crisis when principle actually matters, he could not recognize that he was being led down the primrose path by an out-and-out Keynesian money printer at the Fed and an economically illiterate Wall Street front-man at the Treasury.

And this goes to the heart of the phony economic conservatism of the Eric Cantor’s and Paul Ryan’s. Both voted for TARP and the auto bailouts because they are complete ignoramuses about the elephant in the room which is leading the Washington policy assault on free markets and fiscal rectitude. Namely, the Federal reserve and the monetary central planning model that has become national policy since the Greenspan era.

But that’s why we had the September 2008 crisis. It did not reflect a fundamental flaw of capitalism, or an outbreak of unusual greed, or insufficient regulation of investment banks—and most especially not a once-in-a-hundred-years outbreak of something called “contagion” that required throwing away the rules of the free market to save it, as the clueless occupant of the White House then phrased it.

No, it was just another central bank enabled financial bubble bursting. That is the inherent and inexorable result of destroying honest price discovery on Wall Street and placing “puts”, props and pegs under the price and yields of securities in the capital and money markets.

In short, the Fed has turned Wall Street into a dangerous gambling casino and Washington into ceaseless fiscal auction. And that’s where Cantor’s real sin comes into play. Not once after the financial crisis did Cantor or the so-called establishment GOP leadership take on the elephant in the room. Never did he even remotely recognize that the monetary politburo ensconced in the Eccles Building has accomplished what amounts to an economic coup d tat.

Stated differently, financial repression, ZIRP, QE, wealth effects and the Greenspan/Bernanke/Yellen “put” under the stock market and risk assets generally are not just a major policy mistake; they are a full-throttle assault on the heart and soul of conservative economics.

You can not expect to have fiscal rectitude in a modern democracy, for example, when the central bank since the year 2000 has monetized nearly $4 trillion of public debt—and once Paulson’s “bazooka” failed in September 2008, the GSE securities among that total most surely are de facto public debt. Indeed, financial repression makes the carry cost of the public debt so painless—-that is, probably about $400 billion per year less than it would be under a regime of free market interest rates—that not one in a hundred politicians can see they virtue of fallen on the fiscal sword in the here and now in behalf of unborn generations of taxpayers who will carry the burden of today’s fiscal folly.

So it has been Keynesian central bankers, ironically, that have enabled platitudinous conservatives like Cantor to have their cake and eat it, too. To be sure, the latter have never missed an opportunity to scold the self-avowed big spender currently in the White House for his sorry fiscal record, but look what they have done instead.

Year after year they have proposed phony baloney budgets based on accounting fairy dust and pie-in-the sky economic assumptions two or more decades down the road that give constituents not a single clue as to the sacrifices and pain that will be needed to tame the endless profligacy of the nation’s Welfare State and Warfare State. At the same time, they have folded like a lawn chair every time push has come to shove on continuing resolution and debt ceiling crises in the here and now.

Cantor’s record on this score is so horrendous that he ought to spend the next decade in sackcloth and ashes doing penance to the god of fiscal rectitude, if there is one. On the first point, he has been an avid backer of the serial “Ryan” budgets, but each and every one of these dopey plans have significantly increased defense spending and given a free pass to the nation’s massive social insurance system. Yet the latter costs $1.5 trillion per year and embodies the sheer myth that social security and Medicare are earned retirement insurance and are funded out of “assets” that have been accumulated over decades.

In fact, there is nothing in those trust funds except Treasury IOUs. And there are few things more destructive of job creation in the high-cost American economy than the 15% payroll tax that currently underfunds the system, and which will inexorably become even more economically destructive as it rises in the future.

So there is no alternative accept to call the social insurance Ponzi for what it is and to impose a sweeping means test on the millions of affluent retires getting combined social security/Medicare benefits of upwards of $50,000 per year which they didn’t earn. That could then be accompanied with a switch to general revenue funding from a consumption tax—so that the  onerous payroll levy which parades as an “insurance premium” could be sharply reduced or eliminated.

Yet Cantor and Ryan just pretended that social insurance didn’t matter: Social Security got a free pass forever and Medicare was always to be fixed after a decade into the future—a point which never comes. Instead, they made their numbers add up with savage cuts in the means tested safety net, but even these cuts were phony.  They were to occur by block granting food stamps, Medicaid and other welfare programs and then returning them to the states with a 20-25% haircut.

House Republicans invented that ploy way back in the early 1980s in order to duck voting for real reforms, but the political scam was immediately self-evident. Not a single GOP governor wanted the task of being the “out-sourced” budget cutter!

The same has been true ever since. So the Ryan-Cantor position on the entire $2.5 trillion domestic budget is to punt on the huge social insurance portion and to scam on  the rest.  Yet once actual defense increases are thrown into the budget pot, the fraudulence of the Cantor-Ryan fiscal position becomes all the more evident.

Without providing an iota of honest disclosure or even a semblance of a credible outline for shrinking a Federal budget which will spend upwards of $50 trillion over the next decade, they insist that taxes are too high and that the secret to the fiscal challenge is even more tax cuts so that we get even more rosy scenario economic growth than is built into the CBO’s Keynesian economic forecasts to begin with.

In short, this is just kidstuff. Cantor and Ryan have effectively removed the GOP from the field of fiscal battle by serving up budgetary platitudes for home consumption by the rank and file. At the same time, they have whiffed each and every time they have faced an action forcing deadline. In the spring of 2011, for example, in connection with the CR expiration crisis, the served up $39 billion in “cuts” that were so transparently phony that the CBO scored them as saving $4 billion at best. And then spending as usual resumed.

In the summer of that year they caved again—this time on the debt ceiling crisis. The solution of the budget super-committee and the automatic sequester speaks for itself.  The latter never had any possibility of producing a real budget shrinkage plan. And when the sequester threatened to actually bite into spending, it was Ryan and Cantor who lead the charge in  behalf of a compromise to restore $22 billion of spending for defense by giving the liberals $22 billion in higher spending for domestic programs.

At the end of the day, that ignominious Ryan-Murray compromise goes to the very heart of Cantor’s betrayal of the cause of free markets and small government. He has been an unabashed servant of the Washington War Party during his entire career. Time and time again, he helped whip the GOP rank and file into a frenzy of militaristic bombast about imaginary threats to America’s security in places all over the globe which are none of our business. That absolute nonsense of sanctions and unrelenting hostility to the regime in Tehran is perhaps the most egregious example.

So Eric Cantor made a career of milking the Warfare State and pandering to Wall Street. This brought him nearly to the top of the Washington heap. But in the end, it did not fool his constituents.  And most certainly it set back the conservative cause immeasurably.

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navy62802's picture

Oh, he's not gone. Don't fret. I'm sure he'll pop up again somewhere down the line. Corporations don't just throw that kind of money at a politician and let him die an unseemly death.

Anusocracy's picture

The only good politicians are the ones that are never born.

economics9698's picture

The guy was the token tribe member who reported all GOP dealings to his masters at Goldman Sachs.  

john39's picture

ha... half the GOP has wet dreams about kissing tribe ass.  just look at the lists of junkets that go to israhell.



0b1knob's picture

A bagman is : a person who on behalf of another collects or distributes illicitly gained money.   Calling Kantor a bagman is an insult to real bagmen.

Kantor was just another tool of the powers that be.

debunkit's picture

why don't all of you jew-haters start your own white power, nazi loving board and leave everyone else to contine an intelligent conversation?

NoDebt's picture

That's freaking awesome.  Post that same pic again in a more-travelled thread later.  That's too good to only be shown one time on ZH.  It works on a LOT of levels.

Tapeworm's picture

I don't get it as I am completely ignorant of popular culture.

 Can you give me a hint on what the picture refers to?

r00t61's picture

This is a refernce to the Japanese "salaryman," the middle-class Japanese male who dutifully spends 18 hours a day at his corporate cubicle in return for lifetime employment.

In the wake of Abe-nomics continuing the acceleration of that nation's misery, the salaryman is now reduced to drinking himself into a stupor to dull the pain.

Tapeworm's picture

I thank you for the reply, although I would have gotten it on your first sentence. The rest was gravy, so thanks again.

williambanzai7's picture

I was going to put this in a post, but I got side tracked by Iraq ;-)

Spungo's picture

banzai, can you please photoshop a used condom on the ground between his legs with some light brown discoloration?

ThroxxOfVron's picture

Oh, shit: I knew that Wasted Salaryman skivy'd out on the floor was gonna be a WB7 target the moment I saw it !


Next up: variations with various 'Special Guests' taking position in the door laughing, ignoring, or even pissing on Whoever the downed rube of the moment is, etc...


I can't stand the hilarity WB7 -I think I'm gonna have to grab a Cintiq Companion and join in the Visual Combat stylee bashing !

doctor10's picture

A "true conservative" would NEVER specifically legislate. They would reform the Federal Judiciary to force Constitutional compliance-and let the courts then sort it out.


At the end of the day -that's the litmus test.

Spungo's picture

It's a shame he was voted out before someone had the chance to assassinate him.

Dear NSA: I'm a Mexican in Mexico. Don't bother trying to arrest and execute me wiithout a trial (which is 100% legal since the NDAA was signed).

Postal's picture

1. I'm glad no one did assassinate him: They would have probably used a gun, and the argument would have been made to further erode what's left of my 2nd amendment rights to KEEP AND BEAR firearms.

2. It's not the NSA you should worry about. They'll just hand off your IP/contact info to their buddies at the CIA. Don't board any planes, boats, etc. for a while.

Schmuck Raker's picture

3. If he's really a Mexican in Mexico then the best way to avoid the NSA, CIA, FBI, and ETC. is to relocate to the US, they don't really have a clue.... you could probably bomb marathon if you felt like it, and they wouldn't* stop you.

*as opposed to "couldn't"

Freddie's picture

Lindsey Graham is even worse than Cantor.  Graham is a friend of ISIS along with McCain.   My guess is that election is rigged.  The peons can **ck with the House but the Senate is controlled by the elites/NWO.

americanspirit's picture

Hey Spungo - nice thought, but not necessary. If you look closely at his left eye you'll see in the iris unmistakable signs that this asshole will be dead of cancer ( not sayin' what kind - let him guess) in 3-5 years. But just for fun - here's a clue. It is going to be a very, very painful kind of cancer with a 6 month life expectancy after diagnosis.

Mark my words.

Yen Cross's picture


Cantor will end up in some "think tank" that the ORC's find fit. That little pussy couldn't find a bag of rocks on a river bed!

Postal's picture

1. Don't compare Cantor to a pussy. Pussies are wonderful warm, soft, useful, enjoyable items. Pussies don't deserve to be insulted like that.

2. I grew up in rural Arkansas (think whetstones from AR river rocks), so I'm familiar with the great outdoors. Please, for the love of the natural state, do NOT release that asshole so he can pollute our waterways.

Colonel Klink's picture

Cantor can share a HUGE bag of dicks along with Obama, Biden, Clinton, Bush, and the vast majority of the government apparatchik.

alexcojones's picture

Cantor is not the problem.

The problem is the criminal system.

The system gives us Bush, Kerry, Clinton, Obama and the Fed.

All criminal and part of the system.

NoDebt's picture

Alex- your comment is spot-on.  And I have been wondering for a while HOW you do battle with a system?  I mean, that's really the core of the problem, isn't it?  Who do you point the finger at if the "system" is the real enemy?

I've come to the conclusion, that you can NOT battle a "system".  It will evolve and adapt and work around any change in rules you throw at it, be it compensation structure, oversight, rules and regs changes, etc.  We've seen that time and again.

It's gotta be a different playing field if you want to affect change.

I've come to the conclusion that you must PROSECUTE INDIVIDUALS.  Period.  Send guilty individual people to jail, throw them out of office, confiscate their ill-gotten gains.  Exactly what has been lacking in the banking scandals and subsequent 08-09 crash.  You'll never get them all, obviously, but if you do it enough that individual players have a reasonable fear of CONSEQUENCES for their actions, it will be INDIVIDUALS that start to question the wisdom of participating in a corrupt system.

Right now, nobody that's part of the system has any real fear of prosecution or other consequences.  Cantor gets voted out, so what?  Those in the system see that as a freak event, an abberation, a one-off, an anomaly.  Very low likelyhood of it ever happening to them personally.  And so the system rolls on, unchanged.

Change the calculus of THAT dynamic and you change the system.  It's why I'm starting to think that even "way out there" ideas like starting impeachment proceedings against Obama should be pursued even if they have a low likelyhood of success (and he wouldn't be thrown out of office even if successful, just like in Bill Clinton's case).



Urban Redneck's picture

The restoration of individual CONSEQUENCES is a systemic change.

Clever Name's picture

Cantor will likely be as powerful or wield as much influence if not more now.

Interesting info on Brat from Thom Hartmann.

perchprism's picture


This in no way has harmed the conservatives.  Cantor is a cocksucking inside-the-beltway GOP-elitist who just got what he's richly deserved for a long time.  Conservatism is ascendant.

The premise of the article is incorrect.  I'm conservative, so are my friends.  We're celebrating.

g speed's picture

What I got from the article was that Cantor was a pox on the conservative cause along with Ryan- and getting rid of him was a plus for his voting district and is indicitive of a wake up.-----I agree with that. 

LibertarianMenace's picture

Meh. Pot, kettle, black. One thing's for sure is that libertarians seem to scare the bejeebuses out of the progs. It's good to see their all-knowing arrogance and controlling tendencies rattled.

One of We's picture

I admit I only read the first paragraph and skimmed the last but there are way too many words here than necessary to say Cantor, Delay and Blunt are corporatist sellouts like everyone in congress besides Amash and the reformed Walter Jones.


edit:  And they may be sellouts too even though I like what I've heard from them but I'm reminded of my grandma telling me, "Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear..."  so, following that wisdom they get the guillotine too just to be safe.....

Peter Pan's picture

Can someone remind me of how many Cantors the American political scene has?

Perhaps his masters allowed his removal so as to allow for his replacement at the next election.

I believe someone other than those who voted against him also acted against him.

zhandax's picture

The truth will be revealed at the next election, but I suspect you should trust your instincts.

10mm's picture

He will be just fine. Lobbying work in the cards as we speak.

falconflight's picture

And yet with all that has transpired with Obama and Co for the past 6 years, primary turnout with the Goiter Old Party is still just as abysmally low...a mere 11%.

Oldwood's picture

As we apparently support all of these public "servants" for the remainder of their lives, they should be prohibited from every accepting payment for anything for the rest of their lives. No books, no lobbying, no law firms partnerships. Nothing. Most of these people seem to want to retain government employment forever anyway, so lets just make it law. That's the deal. You want to "serve" your country then stand up or shut up. We have soldiers dying for their country for peanuts in comparison. Its the very least that they can do.

SmittyinLA's picture

 savage cuts in the means tested safety net?

Not on my planet 

Wall Street War party? 

Anti Semite

Spungo's picture

"1. I'm glad no one did assassinate him: They would have probably used a gun"

People these days lack style. What happened to the days of accidentally bumping into someone and injecting them with an ungodly amount of heroin and potassium chloride? 

Postal's picture

But it's so much more fun to slip them a ruffie and have pic of them with a strung out stripper's 14-year-old daughter blasted all over the internet. Or so I've heard.

NOZZLE's picture

I am so disillusioned.  How do you possibly argue in favor of relaxing a nation's immigration poliicies to the point where it dilutes the value of everyone else's citizenship. Forget about the fact that none of this scum is the next Clarence Kelly Johnson.  Forget about the fact that these illegals carry diseases that were wiped out decades ago.  Forget about the fact that you are allowing psychopaths to enter this nation. Forget about the fact that these animals you are encouraging to enter could care less about the Declaratioon of Independence, the Bill of Rights, all they care about is how much they can suck out of this nation because 'we suck and they deserve it' and its 'unfair that we accumulated so much' and 'their failure is not due to their genetics'. 

Your are ruining a nation, for what, some short term gain for you and your family?

What will the remaining Americans say 100 years from now when the nation looks like Zimbabwe.  This could have all been avoided by doing what every nation does, enforce its borders.  You hated this nation this much you fucking obama piece of shit, what, you looked in a mirror and thouht that you were the embodiement of genetic filth?  You thought: "I'll show you assholes, I'll dump thousands of turd world scum inside the gates knowing that in 10 years they will be of voting age and will overwhelm those White bastards who looked down their noses at my filth stinking fudge packed ass.  I laugh at you from inside the whitehouse, I shit in your toilet and my ugly ass wife takes a squat and her stink permeates the paint, wallpaper, woodwork and every crevice of the building you built with slave labor. A stiink that will remain for eternity.   The useful idiots who cannot let their affirmative action clown experiment fail print money to plump the stock market and turn your productive labor into shit.  I laugh at this while I ride around in AirForce 1 and my wife pops lobsters into her mouth, burning up jet fuel and food purchased with your labor.  I cut loose the very people who are responsible for 9-11 and cloak myself in the alleged death of some broken down old man named Bin Laden.  You hate me more, but the sociopaths I put in the EPA write more rules to render your farmlands and coal mines worthless and doubling your electric rates.   By the time I am done, your precious nation will be rendered worthless and I did it because I wanted to prove that those bastards, Madison, Jefferson and Washington were not so smart because they never envisioned a piece of shit like me."    

All is chosen's picture

Amen to that.

My homeland is being fecked over too. It's all deliberate. I refuse to live there now.

Just one example:

debunkit's picture

Nozzle-spewer:  you forgot to forget about the fact that over the last hundred years 'murica was built by the sweat of immigrants. 

Neoisolationist's picture

The difference is now it is destructive immigration, rather than constructive immigration.

Also the future trends that follow the current immigration pattern in the USA will be affected by what will very likely be a very violent and bloody civil war, which necessarily will have (socially engineered) genocidal qualities. There is a possibility it will be white genocide (I think this route is preferred by TPTB), but it could also go in other directions.

In sum, TPTB don't care about the immigrants either. To them, the end justifies the means. I would be just as concerned if I were non-white. Frankly, if I were I would be leaving the USA and heading home if I had family abroad I could run to.

Everybodys All American's picture

These kids are not immigrants. These kids are refugees dumped here at the border and orchestrated by Obama to create the atmosphere for amnesty for his dreamers. All politics.

Pure bs btw that immigrants built this nation unless you're referring to the fact that we are all immigrants.

The difference imo has been that the people coming in as of late do not want to assimilate and don't even bother trying to learn english. Then to top it off these communities demand every government document and service be granted to them in their native language. This is the formula for disaster.

Neoisolationist's picture

Thank you. This is a good point. And the revulsion and fury it's generating in our society might also be intentional.

ebear's picture

"Pure bs btw that immigrants built this nation unless you're referring to the fact that we are all immigrants."

Polish, German and Irish immigrants built the railroads, starting from the east, then wisely became farmers when they saw the Rocky Mountains.  It was an easy choice, as the government was giving away land to anyone who would settle it.

Thousands of Chinese immigrants were brought in to finish the hardest part of job, for which they were poorly paid, mistreated, and denied full rights as citizens.

So, if you consider railroads important in building the nation, then yes, immigrants built most of it.