As health care reform moves from historic longshot to fait accompli, Democrats can feel the next crisis percolating: It's the jobs, stupid. Unemployment is going to hit 10 percent, and it's going to stay there for a while. Nobody questions this inevitability, they can only wonder (1) how high over 10 percent it's going to get and (2) how long it will stick around double digits. With the 2010 election-cum-referendum on the Obama administration now about 380 days away, what are they doing to help the job market? Let's count possibilities:
1) Extend the first-time home buyer credit
2) Create a new credit for companies who hire
3) Extend jobless benefits in every state, or just particularly distressed states, or every state but even more in particularly distressed states.
4) Give tax refunds to struggling companies
5) Institute a payroll tax holiday
6) Pass another stimulus but call it something like "State Rescue Plan" and send most of the money to state governments
Republicans are going to want to rely on the tax credits. Democrats are going to lean toward Keynesian stimulus strategies. My bet is that the result will be a hybrid -- not because Democrats need Republican support to actually pass the bill, but because it's much easier from a PR perspective to get as many of them on board as possible to juke the "$800 billion stimulus failed" meme some conservatives will likely throw at them.