Eric Cantor

Don’t feel sorry for Eric Cantor: Ex-House leader stands to do well working as a lobbyist

Former House leader Eric Cantor couldn’t wait to quit Congress after the 11 years he spent in the leadership were unpredictably brought to a close after his loss to economics professor Dave Brat.

He couldn’t wait to get his hands on the money the private sector wanted to offer for his expertise, either. At least that’s now former colleagues and aides have been suggesting.

According to Politico, the move to simply quit Congress four months short of his official departure plays well into a possible shift into the private sector. By leaving now, Cantor doesn’t have to offer any details to the public on what companies he’s been considering to work for.

Close allies and friends claim he was ready to move on the day after his loss.

Sadly for us, people like Cantor often move out of Congress to continue to work on shaping policy, but from the outside. Whereas in 1974, about 3 percent of retiring Senators found a job with some lobbying firm, about 50 percent of Senators today are able to successfully quit Congress to become lobbyists.

The presence of a Senator in a firm’s lobbying team is valuable because, over time, former lawmakers are able to use their contacts, meaning more access to means of tilting policies toward what the firm’s clients have in mind.

The man who ended Eric Cantor: Dave Brat’s unusual traits as professor make him a promising congressional candidate

Dave Brat

Robert Thomas is an alumnus of Randolph-Macon College, Class of 2011, where he completed his B.A. in Economics/Business and Philosophy. He currently resides and works in Arlington, VA and is pursuing an M.A. in Philosophy with a concentration in Ethics and Public Affairs at George Mason University.

Dave Brat’s name has been splashed across national media headlines ever since his upset primary victory over Eric Cantor. Most of the coverage has focused on speculation about the reasons for his electoral success, what it means for national political trends, and its impact on the House Republican leadership structure.

By contrast, little ink has been spilled and few keyboards have clattered with discussion about what to actually expect from him as a prospective congressman, and what he might achieve within the House. Maybe a firsthand perspective can help fill that gap.

Over the course of four years as a student at Randolph-Macon College, I had a chance to get to know Dave Brat well before his appearance on the national political stage. He was my professor in my studies in economics, my supervisor in my work as a student assistant with the Department of Economics and Business, and, alongside his colleague Ed Showalter, my coach as a member of Randolph-Macon’s team in the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges’ annual Ethics Bowl competition.

Across those four years and many experiences, I came to know him well and to respect him deeply.

As a professor with distinct conservative and libertarian leanings teaching courses on subjects like economics and ethics, it was a rare moment when he didn’t have a clear position on the topic of the day’s lecture, but he always pushed students to understand competing points of view and the arguments behind them.

How establishment Republicans are doubling down on stupidity — they want Eric Cantor to lead RNC

Eric Cantor

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Eric Cantor has been defeated in the primaries by a “Tea Party” candidate. While everyone goes through mental gymnastics to figure out exactly why that happened, one thing should definitely be understood - Cantor’s constituents no longer want him to represent them.

That is an important point that is being lost, particularly by Michael Steele. He floated the idea that Cantor might make a good RNC Chair.

Someone needs a reality check, if they think that an incumbent that has just lost a primary is a good candidate to lead an entire political party.

It’s true that alternative media people have been saying that establishment Republicans are tone deaf to the desires of the rank and file voters in the party. Until now, it’s just been a lot of commentaries, that haven’t been backed by anything really measurable.

We finally have something to show that the establishment is not really representing the voters anymore. If Cantor ends up as the RNC chair, rank and file voters need to seriously consider whether or not they want to remain in the party. Talk about a third party gaining relevancy in the U.S. will have meaning if the RNC continues to try to make itself irrelevant.

House Republicans need a conservative leader, not another milquetoast squish like Kevin McCarthy

Raul Labrador

It appears that the House Republican Conference has learned nothing from Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) stunning defeat on Tuesday. Roll Call reports today that Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) may have enough support to replace Cantor, who will step down on July 31.

McCarthy isn’t an improvement over Cantor. If a majority of the House Republican Conference pick him, it will be an endorsement of the status quo — unprincipled, milquetoast leadership that, more often than not, ignores the grassroots.

Sure, Republicans talk a good game on the campaign trail. They say they believe in limited government and freedom on the stump. But when they get back to Washington, they kowtow to K Street. Suddenly, as Stephen Slivinski once said, they no longer look at the nation’s capital as a cesspool, but treat it like a jacuzzi.

There is, however, an alternative to McCarthy, who, as explained yesterday, has a terrible record on fiscal and constitutional issues.

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), a liberty-minded Republican, announced just moments ago that he will challenge McCarthy for the top leadership post when the House Republican Conference holds its leadership election Thursday, June 19. Which, by the way, will be conducted by secret ballot.

“I was stunned when Eric Cantor lost his primary election earlier this week. Eric is a good friend and I have tremendous respect for him,” Labrador said in a press release. “But the message from Tuesday is clear – Americans are looking for a change in the status quo.”

Big Business Republicans are going to outspend grassroots conservatives every time; but there’s a way we can defeat them.

Phone Banking

Soon-to-be-former Congressman Eric Cantor spent more campaign cash at steakhouses than Dave Brat spent during his entire primary challenge. And leading up to the May 21 pre-primary filing deadline, Cantor outraised Brat by a stunning 25-to-1 margin.

For those who bemoan big money in politics, this is an unexpected lesson in the power of the grassroots over campaign cash. The steakhouse statistic isn’t the reason why Cantor lost, but it is indicative of the culture of entrenched incumbency. Most Members of Congress — both Democrat and Republican — believe to some extent that they are entitled to their position.

Perhaps that’s the nature of power.

Unfortunately for grassroots conservatives, victories like Brat’s are not the norm. Open Secrets has tracked incumbent re-election rates since 1964, and 9 times out of 10, these guys get re-elected with very little opposition. There are very few instances where re-election rates dip below 90%, and most of them are on the Senate side.

And as Molly Ball reports in The Atlantic, “No sitting majority leader has lost a primary since the position was invented in 1899.” The fact that fewer and fewer House seats are competitive in a general election means that to defeat most of these incumbents, someone will have to take them out in the primary.

7 Reasons Why Kevin McCarthy Shouldn’t Replace Eric Cantor

John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy, and Eric Cantor

Republicans were jockeying for position to move up on the ladder before Eric Cantor (R-VA), who lost his primary bid in a shocking upset on Tuesday night, announced that he would step down from his post as House Majority Leader at the end of July.

But with the leadership election scheduled for Thursday, June 19, several names are being kicked around to replace Cantor, among them is current Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Yeah, no. That’s a terrible idea.

McCarthy has been in lock-step with Cantor, who endorsed him yesterday, and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). He’s essentially the status quo. Nothing will change in the House if McCarthy becomes the next Majority Leader. It would be a politically tone deaf move for House Republicans to choose a carbon copy of Cantor to lead their conference.

And here are some reasons why.

Do House Republicans really want Farm Bill reform?

As much as I never like to question anyone’s intentions, I finally find myself asking this week, do House Republicans really want to reform Washington?

Perhaps it was naïve, but after the defeat of the Farm Bill, I thought hope was in the air for agriculture policy reform. Numerous Republicans had offered strong amendments, many of which were rejected at the onset by the Rules Committee. And a fair number of the remaining amendments were defeated on the floor at the urging of leadership. This egregious flouting of their party’s desire to curb spending pushed members over the edge. Sixty-two fiscally conservative Republicans revolted against the bill, proving to leadership once and for all that, indeed, they are here to actually make changes.

This failure appeared to make leadership desperate, forcing them to take the drastic step they’d previously vowed to avoid – splitting the bill into two portions, one for food assistance and one for agriculture programs. Reform advocates long have tossed around splitting the bill. Their logic is simple: neither portion of the bill is strong enough to stand alone. Nutrition program supporters and farm program enthusiasts need each other to get the bill across the finish line. So for those who find the programs to be bloated, forcing each portion through on its own merit seemed more likely to yield change than the current back-scratching arrangement.

Who are the spending cutters?

We’ve recently noted that House Republicans have largely been a disappointment when it comes to cutting spending. Since taking control of the chamber in January 2011, the national debt has increased by over $1.59 trillion and reasonable amendments to bills that would cut spending have been shot down with many Republicans opting not to keep the promise they made to voters in the fall campaign. There is also talk of bringing back earmarks, an untransparent process that is often corrupt.

So why are the spending cutters in the House? The Club for Growth has tracked the 25 votes on amendments that would cut spending and found the consistent budget hawks in the lower chamber (I’m only posting those that score 100%, for sake of space):

Allen West is “fine” with keeping key ObamaCare provisions

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Congressman Allen West indicated that he was “fine” with keeping some key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

…West pointed to three popular provisions of the health care law that he would like to see preserved: allowing parents to keep children on their health insurance plans until 26, ensuring that people with pre-existing conditions aren’t denied insurance, and closing Medicare’s prescription drug donut hole…

West is just another Republican walking in line after Majority Leader Eric Cantor expressed his desire to retain some of the same aspects of President Obama’s landmark legislation.

Ostensibly, Republicans have no plan of their own for health insurance reform nor are they serious about freeing up the market. Instead, they are campaigning against the individual mandate in PPACA while piggybacking on some of the less unpopular provisions of the Act. This serves as a great reminder that Republicans do not have any inherent opposition to government intervention, only government intervention with a Democratic authorship. Despite campaigning for the repeal of ObamaCare since its passage two years ago, Republicans are promising to implement a meekly watered down version of the same thing.

House GOP to bring back earmarks?

After taking control of the House of Representatives in a wave election in 2010, House Republicans decided to extend their moratorium on earmarks, a controversial budget tactic that allow members to insert pet projects in spending bills without so much as a committee hearing or vote.

But before the GOP took control, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), who would later become House Majority Leader, suggested that the moratorium on earmarks may only be temporary, which would be a slap in the face to fiscal conservatives and Tea Party activists that helped the GOP come back to power. Cantor was quick to amend his remarks, but it looks like House Republicans have learned little. Reuters notes that they are considering resuming the practice of earmarking:

The huge federal transportation bill was in tatters in early March when Representative Mike Rogers of Alabama posed a heretical idea for breaking through gridlock in the House.

In a closed-door meeting with fellow Republicans, Rogers recommended reviving a proven legislative sweetener that became politically toxic a year ago.

Bring back earmarks, Rogers, who was first elected to Congress in 2002, told his colleagues.

Few members of Congress have been bold enough to use the “e” word since both the House and Senate temporarily banned the practice last year after public outcries about Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” and other pork barrel projects.

But as lawmakers wrestle with legislative paralysis, there are signs that earmarks - special interest projects that used to be tacked onto major bills - could make a comeback.

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