Granted, there is thin gruel for left-wing cheerleaders of the administration. The assault-weapons ban is going nowhere. (Sorry, but expanded background checks is small and irrelevant beans when it comes to mass murderers who generally would have passed background checks.) The Republicans and Gang of 8 have leaped ahead of the president on immigration reform. President Obama is in a sequester box of his own making. And  Senate Democrats look foolish lining up behind a dunce for secretary of defense. So much for the Democrats being the “smart party” (really, is there no one brighter than Chuck Hagel to run the Pentagon?).

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor- Mark Wilson/Getty Images

So most of the left won’t talk about these. Instead they prefer these days to protest that the GOP is too cheery or not really changing or not really saying anything or not actually changing on immigration. You have to laugh. The left isn’t very subtle and doth protest too much.

After years of saying Republicans are the angry party or the party of no, you’d think they would be pleased to hear them turn to education reform, health-care alternatives, immigration reform and other quality-of-life issues. But now it is the left that is grumpy and trying furiously to convince voters there is nothing there. Unfortunately for the lefty bloggers, it’s hard to conceal the outbreak of substance on the right.

Let’s take House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s speech Tuesday. He endorsed a path to citizenship for children brought here illegally, one step better than the president’s temporary legal residency. He favored reform of Labor Department law to provide parents with reasonable work schedules. He explained why tax reform is good for ordinary taxpayers. (“Today, taxpayers must wade through over 100 total pages of instructions. Just filling out a W-4 at a new job is confusing. You shouldn’t need a worksheet to know how many dependents you have.”) He made a pitch for tax reform that is not merely focused on investors:

Loopholes and gimmicks benefiting those who’ve come to know how to work the system in Washington are no more defensible than the path of wasteful and irresponsible spending we’ve been on for decades. Working families should come first. Everyone agrees a fairer, simpler tax code would give us all more time.

 

In our attempt to make the tax code simpler, we must continue to demonstrate support for young parents who invest in having kids and raising a family. They are America’s most valued investors.

 

In 1997, a Republican Congress created the child tax credit specifically to help ease the financial burden of families raising children. In 2001, it was expanded. Such a policy helps to limit the size of government and results in fewer Americans looking to the government for support.

He set out an agenda for higher-education reform. (“Suppose colleges provided prospective students with reliable information on the unemployment rate and potential earnings by major. What if parents had access to clear and understandable breakdowns between academic studies and amenities? Armed with this knowledge, families and students could make better decisions about where to go to school, and how to budget their tuition dollars. Students would actually have a better chance of graduating within four years and getting a job. . . . Senators Rubio and Wyden have a proposal that they unveiled here at AEI, which addresses this goal. I look forward to working with them and Chairman John Kline in pursuing legislative action in the House.”)

He set out some specific Medicaid reforms (not merely bloc granting) and Medicare reforms. (“We should begin by ending the arbitrary division between Part A, the hospital program, and Part B, the doctor services. We can create reasonable and predictable levels of out-of-pocket expenses without forcing seniors to rely on Medigap plans. Seniors who choose to receive their health-care treatment through a group of doctors and hospitals working together to control costs, should share in the savings through lower Medicare premiums and out of pocket costs. This is both cost effective and good for seniors.”)

And he hit on STEM immigration, streamlining the array of job training programs, repealing  the medical-device tax and accelerating the Food and Drug Administration approval process.

That is all in a single speech. The only way one could conclude this is fluff or no big deal is by not listening to it or by intentionally distorting it. The good news for the GOP is that by putting their fingers in their ears and humming, left-wing pundits give the GOP plenty of room to embark on bold initiatives and popular reforms. Cantor, like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (who is pushing through his state education and transportation plans this week) have it right: Say no to the bad stuff and then lay out a positive agenda. No wonder the left is in a funk.

 

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.
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