Opinion Brief

'In God We Trust': Did Congress waste time reaffirming the U.S. motto?

Obama mocks the House for passing a symbolic resolution instead of a jobs bill — even though the motto debate lasted just 35 minutes

In a 396-9 vote, the House of Representatives reaffirmed "In God We Trust" as the nation's motto on Wednesday. The resolution's Republican sponsor said it would clear up any confusion President Obama created by once referring mistakenly to "E Pluribus Unum" — a Latin phrase meaning "out of many, one" — as our motto. ("In God We Trust" replaced "E Pluribus Unum" in 1956.) Obama mocked Congress for frittering away its day on such a symbolic gesture instead of focusing on creating jobs. Wednesday's debate only took 35 minutes — was it really a waste of time?

Of course. Congress has bigger fish to fry: At a time when Americans are desperate for jobs, says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly, the House shouldn't be "investing time" in a resolution that changes nothing. Even rank-and-file GOP voters think it's time to pass "Democratic jobs proposals and modest tax increases on millionaires and billionaires." Boy, are House Republicans "out of touch.""Obama mocks Congress on motto vote"

Obama is the one who is wasting time: It's worth reminding everybody what the national motto is from time to time, says John Hayward at Human Events. And if anyone's wasting time here, it's Obama. He's the one running around trying "to push his moribund 'American Jobs Act' — the half-billion-dollar spending spree that died in the Democrat-controlled Senate" — instead of considering a GOP alternative that "actually would create jobs." What a hypocrite."Obama: In jobs bill we trust"

Changing the motto might have been worthwhile: In one sense, this was "just a silly misfire in the culture war," says Eric Zorn at the Chicago Tribune. The real question isn't why the House brought up the motto, but why it approved it. Why would lawmakers in a secular nation "formally decree on behalf of all citizens that they trust in God when, plainly, some of them emphatically do not?" We're supposed to be a "secular nation." "In symbolic gestures they trust"

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