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They Never Listen

Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.) was supposed to give a speech last week at the University of Pennsylvania on the topic of income inequality. He didn't give it because it looked like campus protests against his appearance were getting out of hand, but he released the speech text to the Penn student newspaper. I then offered a detailed critique ("Eric Cantor, Lake Wobegon Egalitarian"), pointing out that Cantor didn't seem to know that Steve Jobs, though a remarkable American in many ways, wasn't much of a U.S. job-creator, and puzzling over Cantor's apparent belief that it was mathematically possible for everyone to move up into the top 1 percent. Later, Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) gave an inequality speech of his own in which he said that it was okay that America doesn't have as much income equality as Europe because America kicks Europe's butt on upward mobility. Which is wrong. Europe kicks America's butt on upward mobility. (See page 7 of this OECD report.) Apparently only class warriors bother to do their homework before they discuss income inequality.

Anyway, I concluded after reviewing both speeches that it would be wise for congressional Republicans to stop even trying to talk about income inequality, because it's a loser for them. But do they listen? Of course they don't! Cantor went ahead today and gave his Penn address at Northwestern. (There were protests there, too, but I guess they were more manageable.) He doesn't seem to have addressed my criticisms of the text at all. Sigh.