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Job growth cools a bit in April, but unemployment remains low

05/06/16 08:43AM

After strong jobs reports in February and March, expectations were that the hot streak would continue into April.
 
That's not quite what happened. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy added 160,000 jobs in April, below projections. The overall unemployment rate remained 5.0%, and for the first time in over eight years, we've been at or below this level for seven consecutive months.
 
As for the revisions: February's job totals were revised down a little, from 245,000 to 233,000, while March's totals were also revised down a bit, from 215,000 to 208,000. Combined, that's a loss of 19,000.
 
All things considered, it's a discouraging report, though the news wasn't all bad: this same report pointed to a decent bump in wages, which serves as a nice silver lining.
 
Over the last 12 months, the overall economy has created 2.69 million new jobs, which is a pretty healthy number. What's more, March was the 67th consecutive month of positive job growth -- the best stretch since 1939 -- and the 74th consecutive month in which we've seen private-sector job growth, which is the longest on record.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, April 6, 2016, in Bethpage, N.Y. (Photo by Julie Jacobson/AP)

Obama, Trump, and a classic example of life imitating art

05/06/16 08:00AM

Over the weekend, President Obama spoke at the White House Correspondents' Dinner where he directed jokes at all kinds of folks, friend and foe, though he seemed to especially enjoy mocking presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
 
"The Republican establishment is incredulous that [Trump] is their most likely nominee -- incredulous, shocking," Obama said. "They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president. But, in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world: Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan...."
 
The point, obviously, is that experience with beauty pageants is a poor substitute for actual foreign policy experience. And with this in mind, it was striking to see Trump's latest interview on Fox News late yesterday, where life imitated art. Mid-way through the interview, Bret Baier brought up Russia:
BAIER: About Russia, you were asked yesterday if you've ever spoken to Vladimir Putin, and you said, "I don't want to say."
 
TRUMP: Yeah, I have no comment on that. No comment. I was in Russia --
 
BAIER: But one of the thing people like about is to answer any question.
 
TRUMP: Yeah, but I don't want to comment because, let's assume I did. Perhaps it was personal. You know, I don't want to hurt his confidence. But I know Russia well. I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago -- Miss Universe contest -- which is a big, incredible event, and incredible success. I got to meet a lot of people. And you know what? They want to be friendly with the United States. Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got with somebody?
Oh my.

Thursday's Mini-Report, 5.5.16

05/05/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Canada: "Fast-moving wildfires spread farther across the Alberta oil sands region on Thursday, forcing the evacuation of three more communities south of Fort McMurray and the work camps north of the city. Thousands of people who fled the flames earlier in the week had to evacuate for the second time in three days."
 
* North Carolina: "[State] House Speaker Tim Moore said Thursday that legislators won't meet the U.S. Department of Justice's Monday deadline to repeal or stop enforcing House Bill 2."
 
* FDA: "The Food and Drug Administration, for the first time, imposed far-reaching regulations on e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products, requiring manufacturers to disclose their ingredients and submit their products for government approval, and barring retailers from selling the items to anyone under 18 years old."
 
* Brazil's scandalized system continues to spiral: "A Brazilian Supreme Court justice ruled on Thursday that Eduardo Cunha, the powerful lawmaker who orchestrated the effort to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, must step down because he is facing a corruption trial."
 
* Commutations: "President Obama commuted the sentences of 58 federal prisoners convicted of drug crimes, the White House announced Thursday. Eighteen of the inmates were serving life sentences, mostly on crack- or cocaine-related charges. Most will be released on Sept. 2, but some will be freed early next year."
 
* Turkey's prime minister "resigned Thursday after a public rift with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, throwing the country's politics into turmoil and paving the way for Erdogan to consolidate power at a time of domestic and regional crises."
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 3, 2016. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

For now, Paul Ryan balks at backing Trump

05/05/16 05:10PM

This is supposed to be the point at which the dominoes start falling. Republican officials and Capitol Hill leaders have made little effort to hide their discomfort with Donald Trump's candidacy, but now that he's the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, the party simply doesn't have much of a choice. Republican voters have spoken; Trump has no more intra-party rivals.
 
With this in mind, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a tepid written statement last night, pledging support for Trump, despite having said just a few weeks ago that he was "optimistic" about a second ballot at the Republican National Convention that might derail Trump.
 
Would McConnell's House counterpart follow suit? Not yet. NBC News reports that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said this afternoon that he's just "not ready" to throw his backing to Trump.
"I'm just not ready to do that at this point," he said of publicly backing Trump. "I'm not there right now."
 
Ryan said in an interview with CNN that he "hopes" to eventually feel ready to back Trump. "I think what is required is that we unify this party. And I think the bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee." Ryan added that Trump needs to "do more to unify this party, to bring all wings of the Republican Party together."
This doesn't come as too big of a surprise given the fact that the House Speaker has repeatedly felt the need to publicly denounce Trump's more ridiculous antics.
 
What is curious about this is that Ryan, for months, has said he intends to back the Republican nominee -- even if it's Trump.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at The Palladium at the Center for Performing Arts in Carmel, Ind., May 2, 2016. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Trump stands by his most outrageous policy proposal

05/05/16 12:55PM

Donald Trump has said so many outlandish things over the course of his presidential campaign -- conspiracy theories, rhetoric that encouraged violence, ugly remarks about women and minority groups -- that it's daunting to identify the worst of the worst.
 
But by any measure, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States has to be near the top of the list.
 
To briefly recap, Trump announced in December that he wants a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." A day later, Trump's national spokesperson was reminded that such a policy would block lots of peaceful people who have nothing to do with violence. "So what?" the spokesperson replied. "They're Muslim."
 
At the time, Trump's proposal was condemned by the left and right, in addition to criticisms and fears raised by many abroad. That was, however, nearly six months ago. Does Trump still stand by such bigotry? Consider this exchange between the Republican candidate and NBC News' Lester Holt:
HOLT: Do you stand by them? Do you stand, for example, by the idea of a ban against foreign Muslims coming here?
 
TRUMP: I do. We have to be vigilant. We have to be strong. We have to see what's going on.
In case this isn't obvious, there's nothing "strong" about ignorance and discrimination.
 
Regardless, Trump remains fully committed to his ridiculous proposal. In addition to the Lester Holt interview, the GOP candidate was asked on MSNBC yesterday about his idea of a Muslim ban. Trump once again replied, "We have to be very vigilant, find out what's going on."
 
In other words, Trump's position hasn't changed. The same radical nonsense he touted in December remains a key element of his platform. There appears to be some sense among campaign observers that Trump may try to moderate his image and broaden his appeal as he transitions to the general election, but there's little evidence to support the thesis.

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About The Rachel Maddow Show

Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.

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