House Democrats are looking at a collection of options for ways to bring down the high unemployment rate.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says Democrats will take a multi-pronged approach, using a variety of bills, all aimed at producing jobs. Additional federal appropriations are among the possibilities, but whether infrastructure spending will be in the mix isn't clear. No decisions have been made yet.

Pelosi convened a meeting in the Capitol on Oct. 21 at which Democratic leaders and committee chairmen, including Appropriations'  David Obey, Ways and Means' Charles Rangel, and Transportation and Infrastructure's James Oberstar, heard ideas from several private economists about creating jobs.

At a press conference outside her office after the nearly four-hour meeting, Pelosi  said the topic of the meeting was "the number one subject on the minds of the American people: jobs--jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs ."

Republicans have been blasting the Democrats about the economy.  House Minority Leader John  Boehner (R-Ohio) said that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act "hasn't worked because American families are still asking, 'Where are the jobs?' "

Pelosi said Democrats don't intend to produce one big new stimlulus measure, but instead use a number of legislative vehicles, including spending, tax and other bills.  "We do not have plans for an additional stimulus package," she said. "What we do have are plans to stimulate the economy in the work that we're doing."

Pelosi said that some provisons "will fit comfortably within other legislation that's moving forward....For example, a number of these would be extensions of what we did in the recovery package."

She cited extensions of unemployment insurance, COBRA health coverage and "perhaps food stamps." Another possibility, she said, was an extension of the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers, which she said might be expanded to cover all home buyers.

Those items may well be the first out of the gate, because they are due to expire by the end of the year.

What about public-works spending?  Pelosi said that during the meeting with the economists, "Mr. Oberstar made a big pitch for" additional infrastructure funds. But Pelosi didn't say how that pitch was received.

She did note that Appropriations' Chairman Obey "had an array of initiatives that he brought to me...." Pelosi noted that her team asked the committee chairs "months ago" to identiify jobs-producing provisions in legislation in their areas. For jobs-producing proposals, she said, "We would use the appropriations cycle" and tax legislation from Ways and Means. She  also noted that jobs creation has been part of recent budget, energy, education and health care legislation.

Democrats are working in the shadow of a huge federal budget deficit, which administration officials reported on Oct. 16 was $1.4-trillion for fiscal 2009, or 10% of GDP.  Pelosi said the economists discussed "how we can create jobs in the most fiscally sound way." But  the prevalent view seemed to be that the need for further jobs-producing measures was worth further deficit spending, for a limited time.

Boehner notes that the GOP has proposed its own jobs plan. It includes: a small-business tax deduction equaling 20% company income; allowing small businesses to pool together for health insurance;  tort reform; health-care incentives for employee wellness; expanded health savings accounts; cutting the current 15% individual income tax rate to 10% and the 10% rate to 5%.