In releasing his long-form birth certificate, President Obama made sure there was a moral to the sordid question of his origins: It’s time to get serious about the business of the nation, he said.

Republicans have responded with their own cry to conscience: It’s about time.

“If the White House press secretary says that this is a sideshow, why aren’t we treating it as such and dealing with the bigger issues?” House Republican Leader Eric Cantor asked in reference to the birth certificate controversy.

“There are much more important issues for us to be dealing with, obviously,” Cantor told Fox News, citing unemployment near 9 percent and the country’s $14 trillion debt.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus noted that Republicans have been working on reforming entitlements and urging the president to get on board. The GOP is pushing a long-term budget overhaul that would, among other things, end direct Medicare payments to doctors and phase in a system where seniors purchase subsidized private insurance.

Obama, who opposes that plan, offered a deficit-reduction outline earlier this month, though Republicans dismissed it as too meek. But while the president told Oprah Winfrey in a taped interview Wednesday that the birth certificate controversy was such huge news that it got in the way of the budget debate, a new study suggested that wasn’t the case.

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which produces a weekly analysis of news coverage, found that during the week of April 11-17, Obama and the “birther” issue filled a mere 4 percent of the news coverage. About 40 percent was devoted to the economy that week.

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