Well I won't pretend to be an economics expert (and I'm sure someone will use that fact for a cop-out rebuttal). But what sort of spending and where? The gov't already did the spending thing and that hasn't spurred wild job growth.
It's true that there are some who say the stimulus didn't work, so why do it. On the other hand, if you look at what people who are actually doing econometrics are saying, then they seem to pretty much agree that the stimulus did work, it was just far too small (and they may have their differences in opinion on just how well it worked). There was an interesting story a while back about how the Obama administration basically ignored their main advisor tasked with coming up with stimulus plans. She had identified a roughly 2000 billion US$ output gap, per year, but the administration settled on what would eventually become this roughly 400 billion US$ per year stimulus, which is really tiny in comparison to the magnitude of the problem (and a lot of that is actually neither direct spending nor direct tax relief, so the actual stimulus is even smaller). Unfortunately I don't find the story any more right now and I'm too lazy to spend too much time searching (yes, I know, how convenient - I apologize).
Since hindsight is always 20/20, and we don't really have the benefit of hindsight yet, it might be interesting to take a lesson from Japan. In this context, I find interesting what Richard Koo is saying, If you have an hour to kill, you may want to listen to this talk of his and look at the accompanying slides
. If there is even a small chance that the US situation is only slightly similar to Japan's, then you'll need massive increases in government spending if you want to have even the tiniest chance of getting unemployment down to acceptable levels.
As for your question of spending where, I don't think that question is actually too difficult. From what I'm reading, there are plenty of fields where the US could really need investment in infrastructure and education. Also, considering the sad state of many local and state governments, and the USian distaste for anything related to the federal government, it might be a good idea to consider a program where the federal government simply gives money to state and local governments for them to spend. To avoid a political mess, such programs should probably be on a strictly per-capita basis. State and local governments could then use that money to keep providing those services that they really should provide, and perhaps extend them. Finally, direct job creation is a very useful tool, i.e. a Job Guarantee type program (what jobs would that be? Again, that should probably best be left to local organizations in general)
Again, I'm not worried about whether companies do or do not hire people. My concern is that these arbitrary filters/requirements for hiring just seem more like a convenient excuse than a real reason.
There are two parts to that. On the one hand, you have to consider the perspective of the people making the hiring decisions. Their job is not exactly easy, and I can understand that they consider previous unemployment (especially for longer period) as a bad sign. On the other hand, this is not an excuse for not creating new jobs in the first place. As far as that second point is concerned, I agree: they should just step forward and make clear that they're not creating any jobs because they don't see enough demand for their products or services. The whole unemployed thing is just a convenient excuse. Of course, it's hard for managers to admit that business isn't going too well, so that may be a big impediment for getting the truth out ...