Phil is, of course, right to say that Eric Cantor is not committing himself to any course of action when he says that “everything is on the table.” Saying that every spending item is on the table means that nothing is specifically targeted.
Yet I think it’s a noteworthy development because up until this point Cantor has been remarkably careful to avoid threatening entitlement and defense spending. While he was trying to help as many Republicans as possible win during the elections, he would avoid any mention of specific large spending cuts, while at the same time constantly railing against overspending in the media. The result was that his budget plans seemed frustratingly incoherent during the campaign season, for instance during appearances like this one on the Daily Show or in the Pledge to America.
It would be a welcome development if the end of the midterms also means the end of the timid rhetoric on spending from the Republican leadership. If Cantor wants to make a credible commitment to cutting spending, one good way to do that would be to endorse the Ryan Roadmap and co-sponsor it for the 112th Congress.
And if that seems too politically risky to him, he might want to take a look at how the Roadmap is playing in Ryan’s own district.