This morning, Eric Cantor, Majority Leader of the House, announced to the Wall Street Journal that he was leaving the bipartisan deficit reduction negotiations because he was unwilling to discuss any tax increases. He stated that he would leave these discussions to President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner.

Eric Cantor  official portrait  112th Congress

Although he was removing himself from the discussions, he stated that they had been very successful thus far. Both sides have agreed to a substantial number of spending cuts, totaling more than two trillion dollars. However, in return, the Democrats expect there will be tax increases; Cantor couldn’t take part in that part of the discussions without threatening his own position.

If Boehner’s approval was necessary for any deal to be made, why was Cantor the lead representative in the negotiations? The reason is that, for some unknown reason, the new members of the House, most of whom had considerable Tea Party support, trust Cantor more than they do Boehner. So, Boehner needed Cantor to be part of a deal or his leadership would be weakened internally. Why did Cantor leave at this juncture? He left because he was unwilling to use his leadership position to actually negotiate a real deal. So, he left the hard part of the negotiations to Boehner, so that he could lead a revolt against the Speaker following the 2012 elections.

Eric Cantor, during his time in Congress, has shown unflagging support for three issues. First, the federal government should be willing to spend whatever funds are necessary in order to support Wall Street. Coincidentally, his wife Diana is an executive with a major Wall Street bank. Second, we should provide as much foreign aid to a certain Middle Eastern nation as it desires. Third, virtually no federal funds should be spent for any other purpose except for the first two. Why Tea Partiers believe that he would ever act in their interest, unless it coincides with the above, is beyond me.

Boehner, on the other hand, now finds himself in an untenable position. He knows that Democrats will never agree to these massive cuts unless they get something in return. He also knows that if he agrees to tax increases, his tenure as Speaker will be short-lived. But if Boehner doesn’t make a deal of some sort, and the talks collapse without an extension of the debt limit, borrowing authority will either cease or at least be made much more difficult. This will cause the nation’s credit rating to collapse, leading to an increase in interest that we must pay, and a collapse in the stock market. He clearly made a tactical error putting such a craven, smarmy person in charge of negotiations. He had a much better option in Paul Ryan.

Ryan has shown himself to be intelligent and with the ability to make difficult choices for the good of the nation. He would never have left the nation in the lurch at this difficult time. Sometimes, you just have to expect people to act the way that they have acted in the past, not expect them to become patriots just because it is in the nation’s interest.