The Washington Post

The false urgency of ‘now’

President Obama jetted down to Richmond on Friday to deliver to a university rally the same urgent message about his jobs bill that he had delivered over and over to a joint session of Congress the night before: “The time to act is now.”

There is one slight problem.

Even if Congress saluted and immediately turned its attention to Obama’s proposal, it could not have accommodated him on Thursday night, nor on Friday, nor at any time this weekend, because there is no “American Jobs Act” to act upon. It doesn’t exist.

The legislation may make an appearance one fine day. But 48 hours after Obama’s strident cry for action, Congress is left to grapple with nothing more than rhetoric.

I asked Amy Brundage in the White House press office on Friday morning if the American Jobs Act was still unwritten.

She replied by e-mail minutes later: “The legislation is being sent up to Congress early next week. Does that help answer your question?”

Yes, indeed.

But it sure doesn’t help Congress to act, as the president thundered, “now.”

Colbert I. “Colby” King writes a column -- sometimes about D.C., sometimes about politics -- on that runs on Saturdays. In 2003, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. King joined the Post’s editorial board in 1990 and served as deputy editorial page editor from 2000 to 2007.


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