President Barack Obama has asked Congress to do the impossible.

No, it’s not the part about spending $441 billion on tax cuts and relief projects. No, it’s not the part about figuring out a bipartisan and long-term path toward a balanced budget. No, it’s not about repairing thousands of schools.

No, he’s asked them to do something quickly.


As the president rightly pointed out, the people in this country without work aren’t interested in waiting 14 months until the next election, or even 14 weeks for Congress to dicker on fine points of extending the anti-recession tax cuts Obama supports.

But that’s not the way of life on Capitol Hill.

The idea that Republicans in the House or Senate will show a desire to move expeditiously on ideas that they have themselves supported in the past is naive at best.

Witness the commentary on the tax cuts and other relief measures from Louisiana Republicans; they don’t seem to share Obama’s urgency even when he’s pushing their own tax-cut slogans. The idea that “we haven’t heard specifics” —- as if this stuff hasn’t been in the newspapers and otherwise kicked around for months — signals no sense of urgency on their part.

But does anyone think Congress’ failure to act quickly will be a fault of Republicans alone? The months and months of ego-stroking “negotiations” leading to the Obama “Affordable Care Act” for health care produced little more than what was the consensus among health-care economists.

With unemployment relief, Democratic senators and representatives will want to have their own chop on every amendment, pawing over their own stomping grounds of committees and subcommittees to second-guess every detail. As if unemployed and hurting American families have the same security that members of Congress do.

We look to Capitol Hill, and we see where the urgent is merely the negotiable. It is asking for a miracle to see action soon.