As the economy sputters and falters the questions coming up time and again are: What should Obama do? What can Congress do?

They’ve tried spending their way to prosperity and as today’s jobs numbers show, 3.5 million jobs lost since Obama took office and an unemployment rate that shot up to 10.2 percent is damning evidence, turning the propaganda ploy of arguing for 600,000 stimulus-created jobs into a brazen farce.

They’ve tried to play Washington games with certain sectors and it didn’t work. Cash for clunkers gave car sales a quick pop, but much of it went to imports and in any event it evaporated as quickly as it appeared. Whatever help the first-time homebuyer tax credit provided the housing market is now spent.

Forget what failed in the past, what can they do now? Apropos the health care vote scheduled in the House for Saturday: First, do no harm.

President Obama’s domestic agenda is laced with job killing initiatives. Raising taxes is a centerpiece. Raising spending even more is assumed, as are massive new taxes and burdensome regulations as part of cap and trade legislation. And then there’s health care reform.

The nation needs real health care reform, not a tax-turbo charged government takeover of the health care system. But why does this matter to the economy in the now when the effects would all be in the future? Start with the fact small businesses would pay one-third of the $460.5 billion projected to come from the bill’s surtax according to the Joint Tax Committee.

More generally, the House health care reform bill is a jobs killer because businesses are forward looking. Job-creating economic recovery depends on business investment and business investment today depends on confidence that the economy will prosper tomorrow.

What can Congress do right away for the economy? Declare a 5-year moratorium on tax hikes. Hit pause on cap and trade. But first, recognize that the House health care takeover bill is a jobs killer and turn to real health care reform.