Cantor's latest op-ed for the Washington Post is just another in this series of silly little announcements. To summarize: blah blah blah, Obama is mean, government is evil, and the only focus America needs to have is cutting social programs, cutting cruel regulations on business, and cutting taxes (except on the working class, of course.) Whether or not we ever had these social programs or these regulations for a reason, in the past, is not something he is willing to bend his small mind towards thinking about. In this case, Cantor immediately sets his sights on some EPA rules which he sees no possible rationale for, rather than simply to torture job-creators unnecessarily:
Our country is facing two related but separate crises. The first is the federal government’s debt crisis, the result of decades of fiscal mismanagement by both political parties as well as unsustainable entitlement commitments. The second is the jobs crisis, which has resulted in painful levels of unemployment and underemployment. President Obama is wrong to think that the answer is to increase spending or raise taxes when so many millions of Americans are out of work.
In fact, the Obama administration’s anti-business, hyper-regulatory, pro-tax agenda has fueled economic uncertainty and sent the message from the administration that “we want to make it harder to create jobs.” There is no other conclusion for policies such as the new Environmental Protection Agency regulations, including the “Transport Rule,” which could eliminate thousands of jobs, or the ozone regulation that would cost upward of $1 trillion and millions of jobs in the construction industry over the next decade.
"There is no other conclusion" but that regulations like the ominous sounding "Transport Rule" exist because Obama, in his lust for an "anti-business, hyper-regulatory, pro-tax agenda", wants to "make it harder to create jobs."
The demon! To think our nation was governed by such a monster as that, working to undermine the American economy from inside the White House itself! If there is no other conclusion, after all, then there is no other conclusion. And you can bet that Eric Cantor, who fancies himself one of the best and brightest minds conservatism has to offer (no snide comments from the gallery, please) taxed his brain coming up with any number of possible reasons for the "Transport Rule" other than President Barack Obama attempting to destroy private enterprise in his quest for something or other, painstakingly running through all the possibilities and dismissing each in turn before coming to the no other conclusion part.
I was personally intrigued by this, especially since the rest of his latest policy pronouncement was merely a dull rehash of his last ones. Clicking on the link provided in his own editorial takes you to a page describing the basis for devil-spawned "Transport Rule":
On July 6, 2011, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule that protects the health of millions of Americans by helping states reduce air pollution and attain clean air standards. This rule, known as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), requires 27 states to significantly improve air quality by reducing power plant emissions that contribute to ozone and/or fine particle pollution in other states.
This rule replaces EPA's 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). A December 2008 court decision kept the requirements of CAIR in place temporarily but directed EPA to issue a new rule to implement Clean Air Act requirements concerning the transport of air pollution across state boundaries. This action responds to the court's concerns.
As impossibly quick background: those of you with long memories may remember a little something from the 1970's and 1980's called acid rain. For some reason, nobody gave a flying crap that immense amounts of pollution were going into the air until we got around to "discovering", back in the 1970's, that the same pollution was coming right back down on us again in the form of nasty, pollution-laden raindrops. "Acid rain" was (and is) the phrase used to describe rain so infused with pollutants that it is literally acidic, stripping the paint off cars, etching stonework on buildings and monuments, killing trees, changing the chemical composition of lakes, and so forth. (Plus, as afterthought, that whole human health thing.) It is still around, of course, but it was the late seventies and early eighties that saw the beginnings of that particular battle here in the United States. States with coal-fired power plants in the midwest sent their pollution into air headed for the northeast, saying "what's the problem? We're putting it high into the atmosphere, so the pollution in our state just isn't that bad!". The same stuff came back down over those northeastern states, and there was not a damn thing those states could do about it until Congress finally stepped in with various amendments to the Clean Air Act meant to help curb the problem, the most notable one being in way back in 1990.
I mention "acid rain" only because it is still a phrase that scares the old folks, even while the identical phrase, "air pollution" is tsk-tsked at even today as being not a problem. Go figure: nothing is a problem, I guess, until it damages the paint on your Mercedes—after that all bets are off.
Moving forward a bit, it was not until the dreadful socialism of the George W. Bush years that the Clean Air Interstate Rule was finally issued by the hippies of the near-communist Bush EPA. The premise of the 2005 rule was that states should not be able to simply foist their air pollution off onto their neighboring states and claim it was not their problem. The thing Eric Cantor is objecting to, the Transport Rule, is the rewrite of that Clean Air Interstate Rule after the D.C. Appeals Court ordered it be rewritten to remove "fatal flaws", but left CAIR enforcement intact in the interim due to the adverse health and environmental effects that would take place, according to the court, if the rules were nullified without adequate replacement. There you are: apparently you now know more about the origins of and motivations behind the Transport Rule than Eric Cantor himself does.
Given that brief history, then, I wonder: might we be able to think of a purpose for the EPA "Transport Rule" that was not predicated on the "Obama administration’s anti-business, hyper-regulatory, pro-tax agenda" sending a message that "we want to make it harder to create jobs"?
This is the fundamental flaw with any Libertarianesque philosophy, especially of the Ayn Rand sort. The general premise of "I should be allowed do whatever I want, and screw the rest of you" makes good sense up until the exact moment you realize the implications if everyone around you were held only to that same sociopathic standard. Some people have the capacity to recognize that rather obvious flaw immediately; others, like Eric Cantor, never seem to puzzle it out, no matter how long they ponder on it.
It may be a question of scale. I think most regulation-averse libertarians like Cantor might be able to deduce that it would be wrong if, in order to save costs on garbage pickup, you simply dumped your trash over your neighbor's fence and called it done. (I say most could, but I recognize not all could.) Similarly, you should not save costs on your septic system by making your "septic system" merely an uncapped pipe that leads to your neighbor's driveway, and as such, we have laws against such things.
Scale this up to the town or county level, though, and it suddenly becomes profoundly controversial. When twenty or thirty cities are on the banks of a single river, each city simultaneously thinks it is both their God-given right to have clean water from the river and to dump their untreated sewage into that same river, regardless of who might be downstream. This works brilliantly for the uppermost city, but works out progressively worse for each city down the line. As long as their own sewage (or factory chemicals, or farm runoff, or mine tailings, or heaven knows what else) floats downstream, however, it is not something that any individual town wants to spend much money worrying about. Sucks to be you, every other downstream city!
Scale it up to the state level, and suddenly any implicit right to not have your neighbor crap in your drinking water vanishes by the wayside. I think it has something to do with "states' rights", by which people mean "... to do anything they like", and I believe that for people like Cantor, limiting the "to do anything they like" part is the mark of socialism and/or federal tyranny. He is the exact sort of neighbor who would not think twice about crapping in his neighbor's drinking water, so long as his neighbor was enough of a distance away as to not see it right away; he would apparently not hesitate to toss trash over his fenceline, because that is why God made fences: to hide whatever you throw to the other side.
By the time we get to the national or global level, or start talking about invisible pollution that manifests itself primarily in causing lung diseases in people you don't know or re-carving historic statuary you have never seen, forget it. Some brains simply cannot wrap their minds around something a hundred miles away still being their problem.
As for corporatists like Cantor, I expect he would be the sort to form a limited liability partnership just so that he could crap in other people's drinking water without personal repercussions. That is essentially what he is arguing for, after all: he just insists on a grander scale.
I am not quite sure how people like Cantor get away with making their impressively shallow arguments in public. The short version of everything he says is that corporations must hold supremacy over government, and that neither citizens nor their government has the right to interfere with that, even if it is in the obvious public good to do so. A company could not execute workers for fun, but they should ostensibly be allowed to endanger them for profit; a company cannot murder a child directly with its pollutants, but injuring tens of thousands should be perfectly allowed, so long as they are sufficiently far away, whether "far away" means "across the factory fence" or "across state lines" or anything between. There is no other conclusion, to use Cantor's own words, but that in attacking clean air regulations, worker safety regulations and the like, he is arguing that very premise.
If you cannot fathom why one state should not be able to pollute the air or water of another state without repercussion, however, I wonder if you are the caliber of person that should be sitting in Congress in the first place.
In any event, I wish there were more opportunities to question Cantor directly. We get to hear his lurid assertions of governmental overreach and tales of corporate suffering in the Washington Post and other outlets on an apparently regular basis, but any larger rationale behind his arguments is always left for the intrepid reader to imagine. I would at least like to know how far away you have to be from someone before you can crap in their water supply or poison their air without repercussion, and if the boundary is merely any state line at all, I would like to invite Mr. Cantor on a fact-finding trip to Four Corners Monument so that we can test his theories more fully.