Posted Thursday, July 14, 2011, at 11:52 AM
July 14, a date which will live in infamy, marks the official Newtification of Eric Cantor. The Democratic mission of the day is defining Cantor as an obstinate, irresponsible bad actor who will bring down the credit of the United States if he isn't stopped.
Newtification quickly became the purpose of Chuck Schumer's morning press conference on the impasse. It began wonkily enough, with an aide re-arranging velcro signs with various Treasury obligations -- sending out Social Security checks, paying the FBI -- to demonstrate how impossible it would be to just keep the ceiling as-is and shuffle money around. Mark Begich and Chris Coons described the difficulty local communities would have if the debt limit wasn't lifted. But in the Q&A, this quickly became about the intransigence of Cantor.
"There is only one person at that table who has not made concessions," said Schumer, "and that's Majority Leader Cantor."
One reporter asked about Cantor's point that he's only representing the reality that some plans can't pass the House.
"He is making the reality that some packages can't pass the House," said Schumer. "He's not representing it. He's making it."
When the press conference wrapped, reporters followed Schumer outside for more red meat.
"The people who say it's okay to default have their heads in the sand!" said Schumer. "And that's one of the places where Leader Cantor has, instead of trying to educate his newer members about that -- because he knows darn well the consequences of default -- he sort of eggs them on!" Asked whether it would be easier to reach a deal if Cantor wasn't there, Schumer simply said, "Yes."
I don't think it'll surprise anyone that Cantor's office takes objection to this.
"If Sen. Schumer would like to come over and chat with House Republicans, he's more than welcome to," said Cantor's spokesman Brad Dayspring. "He'd quickly learn that they want to cut spending and don't want to raise taxes with millions of people out of work. Sen. Schumer should stop making false claims and pretending that he's in the room and start actually doing something productive to solve the problem."
But Schumer is being echoed by Reid, by other Democrats -- this is a target of opportunity, and Democrats are serious about it.