Today the President held an event to honor Congressional passage of the payroll-tax cut extension but said he couldn’t sign it because Congress hadn’t yet sent him a final copy of the bill. Here is the relevant section from an article in the online edition of today’s Washington Post:
Relishing a political victory, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that Congress “did the right thing” by extending payroll tax cuts for millions of Americans…. Obama was celebrating a tax cut that is already in place, but due to expire at month’s end…. But Tuesday’s event was not a bill-signing because the bill is not yet in Obama’s hands. Not knowing when the legislation will come down from Capitol Hill, the White House decided to go ahead and hold its event now, while the victory is still fresh in people’s minds. No major event is planned for the actual bill-signing.
Why would it take five days to send a bill to the President that was supposedly finished last Thursday afternoon and voted on the following day? It seems to me one thing not to publicly post a bill prior to its passage (see the correspondence below) and something quite different—especially for legislation widely speculated to be the most important Congressional legislation passed this year—to delay public posting until it arrives on the President’s desk.
Could there be some Machiavellian scheme here? I don’t think so. It’s probably just some type of incompetence. But the bill’s fine print included tens of billions of dollars worth of crony capitalism style spectrum pork sold to the public on misleading terms, and I got the sense from reading many news reports that not a single reporter actually read the bill carefully. Maybe Congress and the President are happy with reporters reporting on the bill based on headlines and bipartisan talking points. Maybe there is a reason for keeping the actual signing low-key.
Again, I’d bet that I’m reading far too much into this reported bill delay. If so, perhaps someone could enlighten me.