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Eric Cantor's Tax-Cut Jujitsu

Few things in politics are more maddening than listening to staunch conservatives talk about taxes. I disagree with them vehemently on plenty of fronts, of course, but there's no other area in which they wallow so pigfully (when you've been watching cable news for six hours you've earned the right to use nonexistent words) in their willful ignorance. Their intellectual universe isn't large enough to accommodate the concept of a justifiable tax increase, and it leads to policies and proposals as vicious as they are stupid. If I followed this stuff as closely as Jon Chait, I'd be in a padded room somewhere.

So--surprise!--when Eric Cantor went on MSNBC and started talking about taxes, it wasn't pretty.

Cantor, of course, wants to extend the Bush tax cuts. But when Rachel Maddow asked where he was going to find the funds to make up for the revenue that would be lost if they were extended, he pulled a bit of rhetorical jujitsu: They're not tax cuts! Since next year taxes will either stay the same or go up, no one's talking about tax cuts.

This is clever in the way it's clever when you lend a three-year-old your hat, you ask for it back, and he hides it behind his back and says, "What hat?" Obviously you know he's got your hat because he's not very big and doesn't quite have the motor skills to pull it off--but then he still won't give it back and you tell his parents (the rest of the Republican leadership) what happened and they just chuckle and say, "What hat? We don't see a hat." And then they high-five their son, hoist him up on their shoulders, and saunter away, the kid wearing your hat. And you're out a hat (much-needed revenue).

Ladies and gentleman, your House majority leader.