What we have here is actually a poverty of imagination. There are plenty of things that the executive branch can do – power they’ve had since they came into office – to boost jobs. They have $80-$100 billion in unused TARP funds that could be put to productive use, including at least $40 billion dedicated for housing. They could use Fannie and Freddie much more aggressively than this renting idea, creating a kind of modern-day HOLC to buy up homes. They could use authorized programs like TALF to give aid to states or fund infrastructure projects. They could use monetary policy to force bank reserves into the lending sphere; at the very least they could fill the slots on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, at least one of which has been vacant since the beginning of the Obama Presidency. They could get any of the $30 billion small business lending fund out into the economy. They could use Treasury to legitimately punish China for manipulating their currency. Put these all together, along with ones I haven’t thought of, and you have a “second stimulus” of equal or greater value than the first. And you don’t have to consult John Boehner at all.
Well either the administration just hasn’t thought of these things or has thought of them, but decided associated political costs are too high, or the administration just doesn’t want to actually do things that create jobs outside of getting Congress to pass tax cuts. Time will tell which bears the most evidence, but as Dayen points out, these are not recently available ideas for job creation.