Jobs bill

JOBS BILL…. The good news is, Senate Democratic leaders talked up a new jobs bill this morning, and intend to push the legislation quickly. The bad news is, no one seems entirely sure what’s in the bill.

Senate Democratic leaders outlined an ambitious, yearlong jobs-creation agenda Thursday, but with just four days before they hope to hold their first floor vote on a package, they have yet to outline the elements of their first bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he hoped to introduce a bipartisan bill as soon as Thursday afternoon and hold the first votes on the measure Monday. He added that he wants to pass the bill before Senators leave at the end of next week for the weeklong Presidents Day recess.

What we learned this morning was basically about the leadership’s commitment — they’re serious about a jobs bill, would like to hold a vote as early as next week, and have reached out to Republicans, who may or may not allow the Senate to vote on the jobs bill once it’s complete.

That said, we don’t know how much the package will cost, how it would be paid for (in a Republican-led Congress, such a question wasn’t asked), and how many jobs it intends to create.

There are, in other words, a few kinks to work out.

We do have a sense of what kind of measures may be in the legislation.

[T]he first package is likely to include a one-year extension of the Highway Trust Fund, a small-business expensing tax credit, a continuation of the Build America Bonds program and a tax credit for businesses that hire new employees this year. […]

The jobs bills that Democrats will pursue … are likely to fall into discreet categories. Besides the tax incentives in the first bill, Democrats expect to consider measures focused on small-business lending and expansion, creating “green jobs” through energy-efficiency programs, funding transportation, water and school infrastructure projects, and providing money to states for teacher, police and firefighter hiring.

Also this morning, the Senate leadership released a new video with commentary from economists Mark Zandi and Alan Blinder, both of whom talked up the idea of a jobs bill, what should be in it, and why it deserves at least some GOP support.

Keep in mind, January’s employment numbers are due out tomorrow morning. If they’re less than stellar, as seems likely, this should, one hopes, give lawmakers a stronger incentive to take bold action. We’ll see.