Will an overhaul of the patent system create new jobs right away and help curb unemployment?
Or is that a long-range structural change whose payoff is years down the road?
Listening to President Obama, it's hard to tell sometimes.
Over the summer, Obama included patent reform in a list proposals he said Congress should pass right away in order to boost job growth. In a visit to Cannon Falls, Minn., in August, for example, he made the case for passing new trade pacts, renewing the payroll tax cut and spending money to revamp the nation’s roads and bridges. He then gave a plug for patent reform, ending the riff by saying, "So there is no shortage of ideas to put people to work right now."
Congress passed the bill and Obama signed it into law last month.
But "right now" might not mean, "right now."
Fast-forward to the news conference Thursday, at which Obama downplayed any expectation out there that the patent law changes might kickstart job growth.
He described it as "a long-term issue for our economic competitiveness."
Continuing: "It's not putting Americans to work right now."