Obama's "jobs agenda" is pretty darned thin, huh?

Mr. Obama has begun to talk more about jobs, but his agenda is thin. Its main components — extending federal unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut beyond their expiration at the end of this year — are vitally important, but their extension will only maintain the status quo. His idea for an infrastructure bank to finance large-scale building projects is also good, but would take time, and would not address the immediate need for jobs. Ditto his push for patent reform and trade agreements…

Washington, in thrall to austerity, has abandoned one of the most immediate and powerful tools for supporting growth and jobs, namely, borrowing at today’s low rates to provide direct fiscal aid to states. But Mr. Obama can and should make the case for targeted new jobs today, to be paid for over time by closing tax loopholes.

Republicans are sure to howl that new programs will undo the debt ceiling deal, but it is surely possible over a 10-year period to tackle near-term action on jobs and long-term action on deficit reduction. The alternative is even slower growth and higher unemployment.