“Payrolls rose far more than expected in January despite surging omicron cases that seemingly sent millions of workers to the sidelines,” CNBC reports. “Nonfarm payrolls surged by 467,000 for the month, while the unemployment rate edged higher to 4%.”
“The stunning gain came a week after the White House warned that the numbers could be low due to the pandemic.”
The federal government now says that employers added 647,000 jobs in November, up from the 249,000 reported previously, and 510,000 in December, up from 199,000, the New York Times reports.
That’s an additional 709,000 more jobs than previously reported.
Josh Marshall: “I think public opinion, which is currently sour on the direction of the country and thus on the Democrats as well, isn’t mostly driven by jobs numbers or other government statistics. It’s more fundamentally driven by lived experience. And a lot sucks right now, even though there’s been a lot of positive economic news.
Having said that, there’s really no question the consistently flawed jobs tabulations have hurt Joe Biden significantly. Again and again we’ve found out that a slackening recovery was actually a series of counting errors. The reports are “revised” later. But those revisions, in the nature of things, don’t get a fraction of the attention that the monthly reports do. I’m basically certain there’s no funny business going on. At least in broad outlines the cause seems pretty clear: the chaos of the pandemic has at least temporarily broken our system of tabulating jobs numbers.
Journalists have taken way too long to absorb this fact.”
“The leaders of Russia and China pushed back against U.S. pressure on Friday, declaring their opposition to any expansion of NATO and affirming that the island of Taiwan is a part of China, as they met hours before the Winter Olympics kicked off in Beijing,” the AP reports.
“Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping issued a joint statement highlighting what it called ‘interference in the internal affairs’ of other states, as both leaders face criticism from Washington over their foreign and domestic policies.”
“A bipartisan group of senators is within striking distance of a deal on a bill that would impose crippling sanctions on Russia for its hostilities against Ukraine,” ABC News reports.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price got into a tense exchange with Associated Press reporter Matt Lee after Price was asked if the U.S. would provide evidence for its recent allegations against Russia. Price repeatedly said the U.S. was maintaining confidentiality to “protect sources and methods.”
Said Price: “If you doubt the credibility of the U.S. government, of the British government, of other governments and want to, you know, find solace in information that the Russians are putting out, that is for you to do.”
“Members of the Republican National Committee are pushing forward with a resolution to censure Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, while stopping short of calling for their expulsion from the House Republican Conference,” Politico reports.
“The Republican Party on Friday officially declared the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and events that led to it ‘legitimate political discourse,’ formally rebuking two lawmakers in the party who have been most outspoken in condemning the deadly riot and the role of Donald J. Trump in spreading the election lies that fueled it,” the New York Times reports.
“The Republican National Committee’s overwhelming voice vote to censure Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois at its winter meeting in Salt Lake City culminated more than a year of vacillation, which started with party leaders condemning the Capitol attack and Mr. Trump’s conduct, then shifted to downplaying and denying it.”
Washington Post: “The censure resolution passed overwhelmingly on a voice vote without debate or discussion, with the whole process taking about one minute. The party said the behavior of Cheney and Kinzinger ‘has been destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic.’”
“The leaders of the Republican Party have made themselves willing hostages to a man who admits he tried to overturn a presidential election and suggests he would pardon Jan. 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy. I’m a constitutional conservative and I do not recognize those in my party who have abandoned the Constitution to embrace Donald Trump. History will be their judge.” — Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), in a statement after news she would be censured by the Republican National Committee.
“Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol. Honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost.” — Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), on Twitter.
Aaron Blake: “It’s gotten to the point where people who are vaccinated and boosted dying in a given week is apparently about 1 in a million — even less than dying in a car crash.”
Former vice president Mike Pence said former president Donald Trump was “wrong” in claiming that Pence could have overturned the results of the 2020 election when he presided over the congressional affirmation of Joe Biden’s electoral college win, the Washington Post reports.
Said Pence: “This week, our former president said I had the right to ‘overturn the election.’ President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election.”
“Weeks after the 2020 election, Donald Trump reviewed a draft executive order that authorized the national guard to seize voting machines and verbally agreed to appoint Sidney Powell, a campaign lawyer and conspiracy theorist, as special counsel to investigate election fraud,” The Guardian reports.
“The two previously unreported actions of the former president – which is certain to interest the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack and Trump’s efforts to overturn his defeat – came during a contentious White House meeting on December 18, 2020.”
“The House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection is now in possession of White House records that provide new details about a phone call Donald Trump made to Republican Rep. Jim Jordan on January 6, 2021 — as the investigation drills down on the former President’s communications that day and questions have long swirled around calls between him and lawmakers,” CNN reports.
“Two sources who have reviewed the call records tell CNN that Trump spoke on the phone at the White House residence with Jordan for 10 minutes on the morning of January 6.”
“By early December, as it became clear that the United States had located the leader of the Islamic State, a group of military commanders had arrived in the Situation Room to outline for President Biden how to take down the terrorist target in northwestern Syria,” the Washington Post reports.
“But it also became clear just how complicated it would be, with the possibility of civilian casualties, American troop casualties and other grave risks.”
New York Times: ISIS Leader dead after U.S. commandos raid house in Syria.
Jonathan Bernstein: “So my guess is that as long as war doesn’t break out with Iran, President Joe Biden will be neither helped nor hurt by whatever happens.”
“That said, candidates do talk about foreign affairs during campaigns, whether or not voters pay attention. If the U.S. does re-enter the nuclear deal, Republicans will criticize Biden for that. If it doesn’t, they’ll blame him as Iran grows closer to testing a nuclear weapon. And campaign promises can be very important, whether they change election outcomes or not. Indeed, we’ve seen that twice now on this specific policy question: Donald Trump campaigned against the nuclear deal in 2016 and then withdrew from it, while Biden campaigned on re-entering and has worked toward doing so.”
Greg Sargent: “In a welcome turn of events, a new plan to ‘Trump proof’ the 2024 election is advancing in Congress. Surprisingly, it appears to have some Republican support.”
“And Donald Trump is in a fury over it.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) is pushing a bipartisan approach to reforming the Electoral Count Act, Politico reports. Said Romney: “This has to be something that’s attractive to not 50 on one side and 10 on the other, but instead 30 or 40 on each side. It’s not intended to be a partisan effort at all.”
He added: “For Republicans, the question is: Do you want Kamala Harris feeling she can decide who the next president is? It’s something we ought to be interested in. And for Democrats, they have to say gee, do you want Donald Trump trying to subvert the system again. Both sides have an incentive to work together to make sure don’t get disabused about the laws that exist.”
“Americans can expect to inherit $72.6 trillion over the next quarter century, more than twice as much as a decade ago, in the latest indication of how soaring markets are poised to bolster the next generation of the ultra-rich,” Bloomberg reports.
“Almost half of all U.S. wealth transferred from the end of 2020 through 2045 will come from the top 1.5% of households… Using trusts and other techniques, the wealthiest Americans can shield the bulk of their fortunes from the federal government’s 40% estate and gift tax levy.”
“A single Islamic State suicide bomber carried out the attack at Kabul’s international airport in August that killed 13 U.S. troops and as many as 170 civilians, and was not accompanied by accomplices firing into the crowd,” the New York Times reports.
New York Times: “Since the United States withdrew troops and the Taliban seized power, Afghanistan has plunged into an economic crisis that has pushed millions already living hand-to-mouth over the edge. Incomes have vanished, life-threatening hunger has become widespread and badly needed aid has been stymied by Western sanctions against Taliban officials.”
“White House officials have grown so frustrated with top health official Xavier Becerra as the pandemic rages on that they have openly mused about who might be better in the job, although political considerations have stopped them from taking steps to replace him,” the Washington Post reports. “Top White House officials have had an uneasy relationship with Becerra, the health and human services secretary, since early in President Biden’s term. But their dissatisfaction has escalated in recent months as the omicron variant has sickened millions of Americans in a fifth pandemic wave amid confusing and sometimes conflicting messages from top health officials that brought scrutiny to Biden’s strategy.”
New York Times: “Parents, activists, school board officials and lawmakers around the country are challenging books at a pace not seen in decades.”
“Such challenges have long been a staple of school board meetings, but it isn’t just their frequency that has changed, according to educators, librarians and free-speech advocates — it is also the tactics behind them and the venues where they play out. Conservative groups in particular, fueled by social media, are now pushing the challenges into statehouses, law enforcement and political races.”
The Economist’s new election forecast suggests that French President Emmanuel Macron’s chance of re-election is 79%.
“Turkey’s official inflation rate reached the highest level since Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party came to power almost two decades ago, as global inflationary pressures combine with the president’s unorthodox economic management to fuel a surge in prices,” the Financial Times reports.
“Hungary has frozen the prices of essential products such as milk, flour and sunflower oil as the cost of living climbs and a finely balanced election looms in two months’ time,” the Times of London reports.
“The prices of seven items, including sugar, chicken breasts and pork legs, are now capped for three months at the level they reached in mid-October.”
“Shops are also obliged to display signs crediting the government with holding down the cost of basic foodstuffs, in what opposition parties have cast as a nakedly political measure and an admission of the ‘total failure of economic policy.’”
Montana’s recreational cannabis market topped $12.8 million in sales its first month, putting the state on pace to meet the state’s projections of $130 million in sales in 2022, the Helena Independent Record reports.
“An Alabama jury found Wednesday that neither former Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore nor a woman who accused him before the 2017 election of initiating a sexual encounter when she was 14 had defamed one another, ending an emotionally charged trial,” the Washington Post reports.
“Rudy Giuliani was unmasked as an exiting costumed contestant in last week’s taping of the first Season 7 episode of Fox’s popular primetime series The Masked Singer,” Deadline reports. “As soon as they saw Giuliani, judges Ken Jeong and Robin Thicke quickly left the stage in protest.”
Washington Post: “Rental prices across the country have been rising for months, but lately the increases have been sharper and more widespread, forcing millions of Americans to reassess their living situations.”
“Average rents rose 14 percent last year, to $1,877 a month, with cities like Austin, New York and Miami notching increases of as much as 40 percent.”
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who warned of inflation more than a year ago, writes in the Washington Post that today’s consensus view “that inflation will fall below 3 percent by the end of the year is likely a repeat of last year’s wishful thinking.”
New York Times: “A broad and bipartisan group of senators is coalescing around legislation to create a high-level independent commission, modeled after the one that examined the Sept. 11 attacks, with broad powers to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and the response across the Trump and Biden administrations,”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) says he plans to subpoena Dr. Anthony Fauci’s records if Republicans retake the Senate in November’s midterm elections and he becomes chairman of a committee, The Hill reports. Said Paul: “If we win in November, if I’m chairman of a committee, if I have subpoena power, we’ll go after every one of his records. We’ll have an investigator go through this piece-by-piece because we don’t need this to happen again.”