FINALLY, President Obama is talking about the jobs crisis with the urgency it deserves, although his plan to address it, while bolder than expected, falls short of what's needed.

For the first time in a long time, the president last week seemed to grasp that the nation's No. 1 priority ought to be getting Americans back to work.


In fact, the most powerful rhetorical tactic in the president's speech to a joint session of Congress last Thursday was his repeated call - 17 times by our count - for Congress to quickly pass his American Jobs Act.

Of course, there is no bill yet, just the outlines of legislation that would put $450 billion into the economy.

As outlined by the White House, it was heavy on tax cuts. The Social Security payroll tax, reduced from 6.2 percent of income to 4.2 percent last year, would go down further, to 3.1 percent, meaning an extra $1,500 per year for a worker making $50,000. Employers also would get tax credits to hire new employees, especially those who have been unemployed for more than six months.

The bill, if passed, would extend unemployment benefits and spend $25 billion to modernize at least 35,000 public schools. It includes $35 billion to save the jobs of at least 280,000 teachers while hiring more. And the bill would finally get going on the "infrastructure bank" that the administration has been talking about for years, providing $10 billion in seed money to leverage private investment.

Many economists say Obama's jobs plan isn't big enough to cure our economic morass, but it's better than nothing.

Along with his jobs plan, Obama also returned to themes we haven't heard much lately - about the need for government action in times like these. He rejected the notion, now in the ascendancy, that "the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everyone's money, let everyone write their own rules and tell everyone they're on their own."

Obama vowed not to let the economic crisis wipe out basic safety protections for workers or consumers - and he even defended collective-bargaining rights.

Of course, no one believes that all, or even any, of this legislation can be passed, not when Republicans have had so much success obstructing attempts to stimulate the economy, let alone help out the 14 million Americans currently out of work - and when a rotten economy is their best hope to win the White House and Senate.

So we urge President Obama to make good on his threat take his message to "every corner of this country." The voters may start to notice who wants to do something about jobs and who doesn't.