For the lawmakers, the imperative is clear: to get the job market back on track before midterm congressional elections in November 2010. While mainstream economists credit the $787 billion stimulus package passed in February for helping stabilize the economy, the unemployment rate reached 9.8 percent in September and is widely forecast to keep rising in the coming months.
"There are some initiatives that we must do," particularly extending unemployment insurance,House Speaker Nancy Pelosi(D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday. "What is it that we can afford? What works the fastest? We have to get those judgments," she said, adding that she will consult with economists in the coming weeks about which policies might best help.
Pelosi also said that extending the tax credit for first-time home buyers is "under consideration," as is whether to extend such a credit to other buyers.
The White House is moving cautiously, weighing proposals from Capitol Hill and beyond but disinclined to combine them into one broad, potentially expensive bill that would draw fire from Republicans, administration officials said. Rather, the administration wants to enact some policies through the regular budget process and avoid those that do not directly support the job market.
Democratic leaders in Congress are struggling under the twin pressures of a rising jobless rate and a soaring federal budget deficit. The Congressional Budget Office reported this week that the deficit hit $1.4 trillion in the fiscal year that ended in September. Representing nearly 10 percent of the overall economy, the deficit is the highest since World War II. Polls show the public is increasingly concerned about the rising tide of red ink, particularly as lawmakers contemplate a vast and expensive restructuring of the nation's health-care system.
But many Democratic leaders in Congress tend to view joblessness as the more immediate political concern. The entire House and many senators will face voters next November, and some political analysts say Democrats stand a good chance of losing control of the lower house unless they develop a more effective plan for creating jobs.
Join us on our
Share this page with your friends
on your favorite social network: