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  • How Not To Lead

    There are times you can want to do the right thing, for the wrong reasons – and end up getting something much worse than what you have now: and doing so at the expense of real solutions for debt and deficit reduction.

    The debt ceiling: political selfishness and subterfuge in congress, is subtly creating tremors within the American economy and preventing long-term stabilization.

    There are times you can want to do the right thing: for the wrong reasons – and end up getting something much worse than what you have now.

    How can Republican Representative and Leader, Eric Cantor (R. Virginia), walk out of budget talks with Vice President Joe Biden, regarding the debt ceiling.

    Why is this “how not to lead:” because  Cantor’s walkout was more political than principled – and even more than that: it was self-serving, not only against democratic policy – but also against House Leader John Boehner (R. Ohio), while America’s economic crisis offers no time for games.

    The first measure when committing an act of subterfuge: create a nebulous backdrop – yet Cantor’s ploy seemed so transparent that his was a play not only to insert himself as a commanding voice in the upcoming elections, but one, who seemed in contrast to Representative Boehner, whose job everyone knows: Cantor wants.

    Second, Cantor nor any other republicans were zealous debt hawks when it came to President Bush’s tax cuts, prescription entitlements and funding for two full-scale wars. Now, with a democratic president and Senate, Cantor has become hyper-focused on debt and deficit reduction, so the one thing he lacks on the issue he’s proselytizing – is credibility, or seriousness. It wasn’t until the Tea Party movement put the fear of God in GOP lawmakers, because they were on the wrong side of their party, and not only is representative Cantor triangulating — he’s doing so at the expense of real solutions for debt and deficit reduction.

    Third, every negotiation needs balance. How can a republican leader ask for cuts to entitlement and defense programs and not make revenue growth (taxes) a central part of the conversation — that’s quixotic. That’s like me giving you whatever you wanted for your side of the deal – then you refusing to give me my benefit, and then becoming indignant, because you think I shouldn’t be angry with the unfairness of your deal, which tells me that Cantor didn’t really go to make a deal – he went to promote the “Cantor brand” as a hawk against deficit and debt cuts, which would burnish his credentials with the Tea Party.

    Here’s the known unknown fact in Washington power corridors: Cantor knows that democrats, nor the president wants to raise taxes – that they are not going to do that willingly and without “political cover,” heading  into a presidential election cycle in the next twelve months, so much of this posturing interrupts and defeats strong and actionable solutions to create a pathway to debt and deficit reduction that is appropriate, considers the needs of Americans and fosters growth.

    As Patricia Murphy demonstrates in her Daily Beast/Newsweek article, Why Eric Cantor Bailed, “By single-handedly bailing out, Cantor puts the onus of finding an elusive deal back on John Boehner, the man who assigned the majority leader to the thankless task in the first place. The fact that Cantor reportedly gave the House speaker just a moment’s notice of his decision before the news leaked to the press only reinforced the widespread belief on Capitol Hill that the two men are more rivals than teammates, especially when it comes to the loyalties of the large and powerful freshman class…No one could imagine Steny Hoyer doing such a thing to Nancy Pelosi, despite their political differences.”

    The real problem with Cantor and his colleagues on both sides of the congress (Republican and Democrat): no one is really serious about the issue — only how it affects them during the next election cycle. The debt-ceiling crisis is an emergency that is not being treated like an emergency, which should illuminate how distracted and self-serving our leaders can be.

    America has a stalled economy, an unemployment nightmare and a mortgage mess that is adversely affecting both the economy and unemployment, and the very best that one of our trusted servants can offer as a solution — is to walk-out: the American people deserve better and they should fire Eric Cantor – and fire anyone else, who treats the American people in such a disrespectful and self-serving way. I know it’s not just Cantor — there are many self-serving and faint-hearted leaders on both sides of the aisle, but I started Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals to purposefully be a “light” to peripheral and convenient leadership.

    America is facing one of its greatest moments to define itself, and it needs its best and brightest – it needs everyone on deck: it never needs one of our own walking out on us in the midst of a crisis.

    Good Luck.

    Calvin Wilson
    Founder and CEO
    Upstart: Business and Management for 20-40 Year Old Professionals

    Filed Under: Management


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