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Eight Things Worth Reading, Mostly Economics, for April 24, 2010

Fiscal Stimulus Watch: Senator Conrad Thinks Ahead

Ezra Klein:

Democrats making reconciliation an option for jobs bills in 2011: I've been arguing for a while that the single most important thing Democrats could do on jobs would be to include reconciliation instruction in the 2011 budget so they can pass further jobs bills with 51 votes. Recent legislation has attracted a couple of Republican co-sponsors, of course, but not that many, and Democrats are likely to be well short of 60 senators after the 2010 election and the jobs picture is likely to remain grim. According to The Hill, Democrats are going to do just that:

The budget drafted by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) allows the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee to move “jobs legislation” through the reconciliation procedure, meaning with a simple majority rather than 60 votes. Asked whether it would be used to extend expiring tax policies, such as the George W. Bush-era tax breaks for the middle class, Conrad said on Wednesday that it would be up to the Finance Committee to choose which jobs bill to push through using reconciliation.

The specifics of the stimulus instruction appear to say that whatever goes into that vehicle has to reduce the deficit by $2 billion. The question is whether that's over 10 years or five years. It's easy enough to imagine substantial jobs investment that spends out in 2011 and 2012 and is paid for with new revenue or cuts that replenish the fund over the remainder of the decade. It's a bit harder to do if you're dealing with a five-year window.