The American Jobs Act, if enacted, would be a very different kind of stimulus than the slow-burn one implemented back in 2009. Early forecasts suggest it could deliver the kind of swift, sharp shock the U.S. economy needs.
Economists at consultancy Macroeconomic Advisers estimate the combination of tax incentives and infrastructure spending would create at least 1.3 million jobs in 2012, boosting that year's economic growth by 1.3 percentage points. For 2013, they forecast the creation of an added 800,000 jobs, bringing the total to 2.1 million. All else equal, that's enough to shave more than a percentage point off the U.S. unemployment rate, which now stands at 9.1 percent.
The economists note that their estimate could actually be on the low side, because it doesn't account for the potential effect of the payroll-tax credit included in the package. It's hard to know how many businesses are in a position to take advantage of the credit, but experience suggests it will lead to increased hiring.
President Obama has put in the hands of Congress a plan that probably represents the country's best shot at fending off recession and reinvigorating the recovery. Whatever legislators decide, they will own the result.
(Mark Whitehouse is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board)