ID Cards to Travel to Canada

I was listening to the radio and heard a report that apparently the US Department of Homeland Security and the State Department are working together to create ID cards for US citizens who frequently travel to Canada and Mexico.  This confuses me a bit, as I thought we already had ID cards for that.  Called passports.

The news story said that apparently these cards will be simpler to get and create a more streamlined and simple process.  I didn't realize getting a passport was that laborous.  This seems like a solution in search of a problem to me.  What's the point of doing this?  I don't get it.