Eric Cantor Cancels UPenn Speech Because of All-Protester Audience

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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Yesterday, the House Majority Leader was slated to give a speech on income inequality — more on that later — at the Ivy League school's well-respected Wharton business school, but canceled after being informed that the first 300 people to arrive would be admitted and there was a good chance they would all be Occupy Philadelphia protesters. Despite Cantor's no-show, about 500 demonstrators gathered anyway, some breaking into the building's lobby through an Au Bon Pain. They shouted some well-rehearsed slogans, including "We are the 99 percent," along with a few more tailored ones, such as "Eric Cantor, come out, come out wherever you are," reported the Daily Pennsylvanian, UPenn's student newspaper. Yet ten minutes after Cantor's speech was scheduled to have started, the protesters had already disbanded.

The Daily Pennsylvanian did, however, acquire a copy of the speech Cantor was preparing to give on the nation's worsening income gap, which started off by riffing on the metaphor of a "ladder of success," even acknowledging that many are unable to reach the ladder's bottom-most rungs.


We know that we all don’t begin life’s race from the same starting point. [...] The fact is many in America are coping with broken families, dealing with hunger and homelessness, confronted daily by violent crime, or burdened by rampant drug use. Recently I was asked, “What does your party say to that 9-year-old, inner city kid scared to death, growing up in a life of poverty? What can you do for that little girl?”


He answered: "That child needs a hand up to help climb the ladder." More money for schools so she can get a good education, perhaps? Or a jobs package so that girl's mother or father can adequately support her? Cantor's got something a little more free-market in mind, what he calls the "Steve Jobs Plan."


I believe that the most successful among us are positioned to use their talents to help grow our economy and give everyone a hand up the ladder and the dignity of a job. We should encourage them to extend their creativity and generosity to helping build the community infrastructure that provides a hand up and a fair shot to those less fortunate, like that little 9-year-old girl in the inner city.


So we're supposed to rely on the kindness of, basically, the rich to solve the problems of the poor. Sounds an awful lot like trickle-down economics, swathed in Apple's sleek brushed aluminum.

Protesters Storm Campus After Cantor Cancels Visit [Daily Pennsylvanian]
Erica Cantor: Wharton Remarks, As Prepared for Delivery [Daily Pennsylvanian]
Cantor cancels speech, Occupy Philly still protests [Philadelphia Inquirer]