Eric Cantor’s boundless capacity for confusion

ERIC CANTOR’S BOUNDLESS CAPACITY FOR CONFUSION…. In his remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this week, President Obama committed to an agenda in which the public sector would lay a foundation for private-sector growth. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) wasn’t quite sharp enough to understand the concept.

“As a government, we will help lay the foundation for you to grow and innovate and succeed,” Obama said. “We will upgrade our transportation and communication networks so you can move goods and information more quickly and more cheaply. We’ll invest in education so that you can hire the most skilled, talented workers in the world. And we’ll work to knock down barriers that make it harder for you to compete, from the tax code to the regulatory system.”

The president added, “But I want to be clear: even as we make America the best place on Earth to do business, businesses also have a responsibility to America.” This, apparently, bothered the easily-befuddled Majority Leader.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Tuesday accused President Obama of seeking an inappropriate “quid pro quo” between private business and his administration.

Cantor said the president implied during an address Monday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that businesses should thank the White House for recent actions on taxes and trade by investing in the economy.

“This sort of quid pro quo — that if Washington acts to do whatever it is the president’s proposing, whether it’s reducing corporate rates or passing trade bills, that somehow business owes it to the country to do X, Y, Z — I think that misses the mark,” Cantor said.

Honestly, I get the sense Cantor’s conspicuous confusion is getting worse. Characterizing the president’s remarks as a call for a “quid pro quo” has all the sophistication of a junior-high debate-club argument.

Obama’s message wasn’t subtle, and shouldn’t have been tough for Cantor to comprehend. The White House, anxious to help spur more robust growth, envisions everyone playing their part in the recovery — government can help by making investments in infrastructure, research, and education, while businesses can help by expanding, competing, and hiring. Working together, the public and private sectors can work cooperatively to strengthen the middle class, create jobs, and expand opportunities.

To be offended by this is to be troubled by the basics of the American economy. To whine about this is to complain just to hear one’s own voice.

Also note the timing — the bewildered Majority Leader decided to bemoan the president’s remarks the day before a White House meeting between Obama, Cantor, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Cantor said he intends to bring up his concerns with Obama directly. It’ll be a riveting discussion, I’m sure, just so long as the president remembers not to use any big words.