We Need a Jobs Package, Not a Stimulus Package
This seems like Framing and Political Strategy 101 to me, but since few other people are talking in this way, let me just lay out a basic idea: all this talk about doing a stimulus package versus not doing a stimulus package is fundamentally besides the point. What we need is a comprehensive policy package that is very simply focused on one thing and one thing only: jobs.
I know the policy wonks on Capitol Hill may be confused by that paragraph because, they would say, well, a stimulus program would create jobs. Well, yeah, that is the idea of stimulus. But my point is this: the politics of a second stimulus package are a dead end. The politics of having a debate about a policy package that will create jobs is a helpful thing. Announcing a second stimulus package gets Democrats into a defensive crouch about why the first one failed, and gets us into that same "can we get to 60" dance with Ben Nelson, Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins that caused the first stimulus bill to be pared back and rendered less effective.
Voters don't know what it means to say you are going to stimulate the economy, but they do know what a job is. And right now, what we need is jobs sooner rather than later. My point here is not to just rename the stimulus bill the jobs bill. In fact, there are quite a few things the White House and Congress can do to focus on jobs that don't involve just spending more, although more money will certainly need to be spent. Here is what I would include in a comprehensive package: