Another GOP failure to play hardball
I attended the 2013 Milken Institute Global Conference discussion between Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VI). What stands out is that, for the most part, Congressman Cantor allowed Senator Reid to get away with hyperbole and misinformation. He was the gentleman to Harry Reid being his usual self. Someone definitely needs to send the House Majority Leader Ben Shapiro's book, Bullies.
Here are a few tidbits of what was said and what the Congressman should have said.
When asked about obesity in this country Reid responded by putting the blame on sequestration, how money was being taken away from programs that provided breakfast for children, and that "we have an obesity problem because we have a hungry problem." Congressman Cantor should have brought up the fact that food stamps have climbed to an all-time peak last year, so why wasn't there a provision that only "healthy food" would be allowed? However, the Congressman did make a good point when he said that employers through healthcare benefits should be allowed to include incentives for any employees that meet certain health goals.
The next question dealt with how to handle immigration in the US. Reid pivoted to guns stating, that the gun issue was partisan in nature. "I think tremendous progress can be made in the next few years. Sixty percent of those guns bought in America have no check to see if they are bought by those criminalized or crazy." Cantor instead of just ignoring that statement should have pointed out guns don't kill, the criminals and crazies do.
Reid went on to say, "Why should we educate people at Stanford, Berkeley, NYU, and Harvard, and once they became scientists they go home because we won't let them stay here." Unfortunately, neither Republicans nor Democrats ever address the problem that foreign students entering the US to get a college education do so at the expense of American citizen students.
Although terrorism was not brought up in a question, Reid did discuss it while talking about immigration. "We can't have eleven million people here illegally, look what happened in Boston. We can't keep track of them. We have to do a better job." This should have been an easy response for Cantor since he could have pointed out the obvious, that one Boston terrorist brother was a citizen and the other had a green card.
What the Congressman did say about immigration was that something must be done since it is broken. "We have a culture where you have these obligations because of entitlement programs that continue to mount. The reality is the President's health care bill, Obamacare, is in place now and that will be a very big discussion point on the immigration issue. Is everyone here illegally, plus all those in line, plus all those coming here, as a matter of fact, now going to be eligible for Obamacare? Reid surprisingly responded that Obamacare would not cover those here illegally, that they will get no benefits.
In concluding Reid stated about this discussion with Cantor, "We don't get the chance very often to talk with each other. This is important for us, to arrange to talk together. We used to help each other." Cantor did agree but forgot to tell the Senator that he blamed the GOP for the sequester measures on the Senate floor for such events as reductions in federal services, and the deaths of the seven Marines during training exercises in Nevada.
Congressman Cantor did respond, "The ability to understand others from the human standpoint is missing in Washington. The 24/7-press cycle from Twitter to Facebook that adds so much richness to our lives also complicates it. You get all these misconceptions."
I hope that both Majority leaders will use this as a springboard to work together and get this country's problems solved. But why am I doubtful? Maybe because of the way Harry Reid conducted himself: bringing up sequestration five times in one hour and not directly speaking to Eric Cantor until the very end.