It’s good to see the two presidential campaigns squaring off over the real causes of the ongoing unemployment crisis, but let’s face it: When it comes to whether we are actually going to do anything to create jobs, we’re stuck in a holding pattern — even as the jobs numbers continue to show the recovery is sputtering.

Is there anything Obama and Democrats can do to change this? I put the question to Senator Sherrod Brown. He suggested that the President and Dems need to get behind a strong message about government’s very real role in creating jobs — and to use that message to pressure Republicans for legislative action immediately.

“Everybody knows that government creates jobs,” Brown said, citing the highway bill that has passed the Senate but is bottled up in the GOP-controlled House, which Dems say would create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“Government creates jobs in highways,” Brown said. “We hire private contractors. That creates other jobs. It builds an economic foundation for job creation.”

“During the fifties, the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, the United States had great infrastructure programs,” Brown continued. “We were the envy of the world. Those are clear formulaic job creating strategies that we know.”

Right now, Obama has again called on Congress to pass the parts of the American Jobs Act that Republicans blocked by filibuster in the Senate, such as infrastructure spending and aid to states for hiring of first responders and teachers.

But is that really enough? Should Obama reintroduce a whole new jobs package — drawing on those ideas, but packaging them anew in order to launch a new campaign for their passage?

Brown didn’t comment directly on whether a new jobs package is needed, but he did say Obama needs to be out there “every day” making the case for government as an engine of job creation, for the highway bill, and for other initiatives, such as a China currency ma­nipu­la­tion bill Brown insists would also create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“Manufacturing, infrastructure, China currency reform, the things that we know where government creates jobs — we just need to keep hitting on these issues,” Brown said. “The president needs to also. We absolutely need to focus.”