By Peter Galuszka

What a difference nine months makes. Last summer, Boy Wonder Eric Cantor, the U.S. house majority leader from Henrico County, was riding high politically.

If he wasn’t snubbing President Barack Obama in meetings over the need to raise the debt ceiling, he was racing to get ahead of the Tea Party parade despite his thoroughly Main Street credentials. With another even more luminous Boy Wonder, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, was giving himself into a makeover as a youthful leading light of the New Conservatism.

To underscore that dynamism, cantering Cantor co-wrote, with Ryan and another young Republican congressman, the book “Young Guns,” an ego-saturated tome that draws on 1960s cowboy shows to set him up as a brave gunslinger defending budget discipline righteousness in a saloonful of drunken hacks and slutty Miss Kittys.

But today Boy Wonder has trouble on several fronts. According to Jeff Shapiro, the Times Dispatch columnist, Cantor is pissing off his fellow Republicans with his overweening self-centered nature and shameless attempts to replace Speaker of the House John Boehner.

Cantor dipped into his own Super PAC (curiously named the Every Republican is Crucial Political Action Committee or ERIC-PAC) to buck up an unknown Illinois congressman against a GOP elder in a primary race. Trying, once again, to posture as a budget hawk, he’s gone against the popular U.S. Export-Import Bank which helps fund exports of small and large corporations alike. And, his local allure has backfired so much that his guy lost in a Henrico County commonwealth’s attorney race.

If this weren’t enough, the editorial page of The New York Times has taken apart one of Young Eric’s pet legislative efforts – one that lets “small business” owners deduct up to 20 percent of their business income.

That sounds all well and good since small business is every pols’ flavor of the month. But the Times points out a few little discrepancies – namely, what is a “small business” exactly?

According to Cantor, a small business is one with less than 500 employees. That can include “multi-million-dollar partnerships and corporations.” Businesses this size, the Times says,  aren’t really the big job creators politicians claim they are.

If you really want to get to jobs creation, you have to go down to businesses that have 50 employees or less. Endeavors this size have created one third of all new jobs in the past 20 years. So what does Cantor’s bill mean? According to the Times, it is a thinly-veiled attempt to give the rich, whom Cantor loves to represent, yet another tax break.

Many politicians might get away with such slick actions. The trouble with Cantor is that his persona comes off as that of Eddie Haskell, the cloying jerk of 1950s TV fame, according to New York magazine. Given the way his district runs through red zones, however, it’s likely Eddie (or Eric) will be with us a while longer.

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  1. Cantor’s tax break for “small business” is bad policy. The U.S. should create a level playing field for all business rather than favor one group over another. Some small businesses create a lot of jobs, others don’t. But then some Fortune 500 companies create jobs while others don’t. This is nothing more than Republican-style industrial policy appealing to the GOP’s small-business base.

  2. the NYT Economix had an interesting read on small business. He says that the original meaning of the term was new or emerging businesses not just any/all that are “small”. He also says that the Census Bureau says that 78% of businesses have no employees and that most of the tax cuts will go to “small businesses” like Oprah and the New York Giants.

    methinks that “small business” is just the latest twist and turn on mom and apple pie.

    If Cantor and the GOP …REALLY wanted to help Small Businesses and their employees – they’d find a way for small businesses to offer affordable health insurance so that small business could compete toe-to-toe with larger businesses AND people would have more real choices about what to do for a living other than stay at a job they hate but it provides “benefits”.

    One thing the GOP could do would be to offer 100% health insurance deductibility rather than the excess of 7.5% over AGI for people who work for small businesses or for themselves and at the same time tax employer-provided health insurance as compensation.

    that would seriously level the playing field for small businesses and entrepreneurial start ups. If a person’s and family’s health care is assured, people can and will take more risks in the job market and employers who offer “benefits” would have to do more than just offer benefits to attract real talent.

    but the true agenda of the GOP is not really “helping” anyone who is not already’s just their mom and apple pie veneer.

  3. DJRippert Avatar

    Eic’s 15 minutes of fame must be drawing to a close by now.

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