Democrats are still reeling from the Republicans' successful use of their 2010 momentum to change the conversation in Washington from spending to cutting, from jobs to deficits. They are counting on the plunges in consumer confidence and the world financial markets to shift the focus back to jobs and the economy.
President Obama is under pressure from his base and from the onset of the 2012 campaign season to regain the initiative on jobs. Senate Democrats aim to refocus on jobs when Congress returns in September, but will face competition from a new round of high-profile deficit negotiations.
Any deal struck in the newly minted joint congressional committee could boost or scuttle plans for more spending for jobs.