I may owe Rep. Cantor an apology

I said before that I don’t like to call for apologies.  That doesn’t mean I won’t give one when it’s appropriate.  Peter Suderman emailed me with the following (I asked him if I could repost):

I’ve complained about Republicans going after the CBO before, and there’s definitely a strain of anti-CBO bias on the right, but I’m not sure that’s what Cantor was doing here. First of all, a spokesman says (in the NYT item) that Cantor wasn’t criticizing the CBO. And the NYT doesn’t provide any actual quotes suggesting that he was going further than, say, Paul Ryan did at the health care summit (and Ryan frequently talks up the good work done by the CBO). Talk of gimmicks and such was pretty common amongst critics, even from, say, Holtz-Eakin — who is pretty clearly not a CBO basher. The NYT piece dressed it up as a departure from the usual GOP criticism, but if you just pull the quotes, it looks to me like Cantor is making a simplistic, slightly awkward version of the same budget-based criticism that Holtz-Eakin and Ryan made.

I went back and reread the NYT article, and Peter’s right.  There is no quotation from Rep. Cantor that goes beyond the pale, and his spokesman did deny he was attacking the CBO.  This is the tag line that showed up in my RSS feed from the article:

Eric Cantor accuses the Congressional Budget Office of misrepresenting the cost of the new health care law at the behest of Democrats.

That got me steamed.  And this sentence sent me over the top:

But Mr. Cantor crossed beyond the Republicans’ longstanding criticism of the health care law in his indictment of the Congressional Budget Office, which is the nonpartisan score-keeper and enforcer of budget rules regardless of which party is in power.

I agree with Peter’s take on Republican leadership and the CBO here; I also think that politicians need to cool their rhetoric towards the CBO, which does good work.  But without further proof (and I don’t have a transcript), I don’t think Rep. Cantor went over the line.  So I apologize for that last post.

Maybe I’m the only one that interpreted the the NYT piece the way I did; it sure seemed to me that they were pushing the line I swallowed, though.  If they were, I think the NYT may have gone too far, not Rep. Cantor.  I don’t like to call for apologies, but maybe the NYT has some thinking to do.

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