House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., has a problem with National Pi Day.
Why? Because it’s part of a practice he thinks is clogging up the legislative process, and costing taxpayers money.
In the wake of an election that repudiated the status quo and produced a net gain of at least 60 seats in the House for the GOP, Cantor, who is seeking to become the next House majority leader, is laying out his plans to slim the federal government's waist, as well as its waste.
Cantor has drafted a 22-page document detailing his plans to “tackle some major failures of our federal government," including reining in spending, repealing health care reform piece by piece, and doing away with a practice that allows Congress to officially recognize individuals, groups, events, and institutions (he also thinks the naming of post offices should only happen once a week).
“I do not suspect that [Presidents] Jefferson or Madison ever envisioned Congress honoring the 2,560th anniversary of the birth of Confucius or supporting the designation of national 'Pi' day,” he wrote.
And Cantor understands the costs and burdens of members of Congress recognizing their constituents and celebrating high achievement. In September he introduced into the congressional record a speech recognizing the employees of "Aerojet-General Corporation's Orange, Va., production facility and their achievement of the milestone delivery of the 1,000th solid propellant rocket motor for the Nulka active ship decoy system to the United States Navy." Similarly, on December 3, 2009, Cantor introduced another speech, recognizing the 225th birthday of Virginia-born Zachary Taylor, the 12th president of the United States.
Titled “Delivering on Our Commitment," the message is not new and hews close to the party line that sold so well on Tuesday -- scaling back the size of the federal government, reducing bureaucracy, and reducing regulation.
Cantor, who has often been candid about mistakes of previous GOP classes, writes, “We are not the same Republican Party.”
Cantor writes that the biggest problem with the people who run the Congress, not just Democrats, but the last Republican majority as well, was that they were too comfortable with too much spending and too much government growth. Cantor says that a major priority for the GOP is to regain the advantage on fiscal responsibility with voters. This means “keeping tax rates low, reducing spending, repealing Obamacare, and permanently prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortion.”
Cantor proposes a number of ways to reign in government spending: major entitlement reform, rescission bills that cancel previously approved but unspent funds, and a greater role for an online program that allows citizens to vote on spending cuts called YouCut. Cantor proposes that there should be at least one YouCut vote per week.
In the section about fiscal responsibility, Cantor also calls for an extension on the moratorium on earmarks, and says that he is willing to “use every tool at [his] disposal to achieve full repeal of Obamacare.”
It’s not just spending Cantor wants to rein in, it’s bureaucracy. In a section called “Scheduling Our Priorities,” Cantor lays out a new set of standards by which bills can be brought to the floor.
These standards include demonstrating the federal government has constitutional activity to act, that new bills are explicit about how they will be paid for, and that proposals advance the agenda of increasing jobs while reducing spending.
Finally, Cantor writes that the new Congress will put a new priority on oversight. Cantor says that a culture of oversight requires quarterly reports of oversight activities of each committee, oversight initiatives from individual members of the House, and more field hearings and forums.
What's most clear from the document is that Cantor has plans to make the 112th Congress very active in seeking out ways to become less active. Cantor wants to make it clear that if any legislation is a waste of time or money -- from the loftiest proposals to the lowliest -- he's got their number. And in the case of National Pi Day, that number is approximately 3.14159.