Game over, Eric: Cantor’s video game fail

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., speaks at a news conference in Washington, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., speaks at a news conference in Washington, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Washington’s spending problem might be House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s favorite thing to complain about. The Virginia Republican has said “Washington has a spending problem” more times than any reasonable human being would try to count.

And he especially likes to criticize Washington for wasteful spending.  He probably thought he had hit the jackpot last week when he tweeted this one.

President Obama wants to raise your taxes so he can pay people $1.2 million to play World of Warcraft.

— Eric Cantor (@GOPLeader) February 19, 2013

The U.S. Government spending American taxpayer dollars to pay for people to play video games? That sounds like a perfect example of the type of spending we have to end.

The only problem is that it’s not really true. In reality, we paid for a study researching ways to help slow the impact of aging on the brain.

In 2009, the National Science Foundation awarded a $1.2 million grant to North Carolina State University and Georgia Tech for a project studying how computer games can slow mental decline in senior citizens. Suddenly this $1.2 million doesn’t seem like such a waste of money.

Moreover, as PolitiFact found when they gave this Cantor line the “Pants-on-Fire” rating, it turned out that no one in the study ever played World of Warcraft. In a pilot study that NC State conducted as part of the grant application process, the school spent $5,000 of its own money paying elderly Americans to participate in a study looking at the impact of World of Warcraft. The seniors participating in the taxpayer subsidized study have played BOOM BLOX, a game that uses hand-eye coordination and spatial reasoning skills.

Perhaps Eric Cantor really doesn’t think that the $1.2 million being spent to see if we can help improve the brains and lives of elderly Americans is worthwhile, but in any case that amound is a drop in the bucket of our budget. In comparison, during the 2011 fiscal cliff negotiations (that gave us the sequester battle) Eric Cantor dismissed corporate jet tax loopholes as nothing more than “talking points,” saying they were “not substantive in terms of what we’re trying to do.” Closing that loophole would have saved $3 billion, an impact 2,500 times bigger than this video game grant Cantor is complaining about.

It might be a good time for Cantor to reassess his own talking points.

Game over, Eric: Cantor's video game fail