Bloomberg -- Payrolls in U.S. Fell 125,000 in June

The Census sugar high in the job market is wearing off just as a passel of bad news about the economy is keeping potential employers on the sidelines leading to the loss of 125,00 jobs last month.

Housing sales, car sales, consumer confidence, manufacturing and stocks are all down dramatically as the new normal of a stagnant economy blows aside the remaining homes for a robust turnaround.

The unemployment rate, now 9.5 percent, is down because the labor pool shrank. Would-be workers that had surged in on hopes of an economic thaw are back out of the game.

Writer Bob Wills explains:

“Manufacturing payrolls increased by 9,000 in June, the smallest gain this year and less than the survey median of a 25,000 increase….

Employment at service-providers decreased 117,000 after rising 420,000. Construction companies cut payrolls by 22,000 after reducing them 30,000 in May.”


The Hill -- House approves funding for war in Afghanistan

Under fire from the president and the Pentagon, House Democrats passed a war funding bill late Thursday – but only after adding $23 billion in unrelated domestic spending that will require the legislation being shipped back to the Senate.

Democrats talked up the possibility of adding strict new timelines and new accountability measures for the war, but punted on those and ended up helping themselves to more money instead – mostly in the form of payouts to schoolteachers.

So that means the two big pieces of work for Congress before leaving town – funding the way and addressing calls for federal aid for the unemployed and state aid – remained unfinished. As Examiner colleague Susan Ferrechio explains Senate Democrats had to work damn hard to avoid extending unemployment benefits.

And on the war funding, Democrats may even face a presidential veto – not for attaching a wish list of spending items to a war bill or even for deficit spending, but instead for trying to pay for some of the extra spending with offsets from a presidential priority plan.

Writers Jared Allen, Russell Berman and Roxana Tiron explain:

“The administration statement also threatened a veto of any bill "that includes cuts to education reforms." The $15 billion in education aid added by the House would be partially offset by $800 million in cuts to new education programs. The Appropriations Committee said the cuts would not affect funding for any existing grant programs.”


New York Times -- 21 Die in Gun Battle Near U.S. Border With Mexico

President Obama gave a speech about immigration on Thursday. He said the same things he’s been saying all along – no border security without an amnesty program, Republicans are bad, Arizona is bad, etc.

Examiner colleague Julie Mason points out that the speech came as the president’s approval rating among Hispanic voters is wilting. Examiner colleague Michael Barone suggests that the remarks reinforced the Hispanic complaint – that Obama is using the issue for his own political gain rather than trying to find a compromise.

Writer Anahad O’Connor tells us about a gunfight worthy of Cormac McCarthy 12 miles away from the Arizona border. Aside from the 21 killed, Mexican authorities rounded up six wounded and three unharmed.

Obama’s refusal to do security first on the border – a rankly political calculation – will continue to be undercut by the cavitations of Mexico’s collapse.

“In the last year, the rate of killings has only surged, and this year is already on track to become the deadliest in half a decade. More than 5,000 drug-related killings have occurred thus far in Mexico, eclipsing the totals in 2007 and 2008 and nearing the 6,500 killed in 2009 alone.”


Washington Post -- Democrats shaping battle plan against Republicans for November

Obama’s top politicos – David Axelrod and David Plouffe – lay out for writer Dan Balz the White House strategy for limiting Republican gains this fall.

The first thing they do is manage the expectations, suggesting that anything other than Republicans winning a majority in the House is a victory.

They’re planning a scare campaign to motivate liberals to get out and vote this fall in order to close the enthusiasm gap with Republicans.

The basic message from Plouffe and Axelrod will be: vote Democratic or George W. Bush will be president again.

These guys are committing political malpractice.

Look at the numbers among independents, who have swung more than 20 points away from Democrats since the fall of 2008. Base enthusiasm may help prevent Marthy Coakley style debacles, but the president’s biggest problem is that he and his party have lost the sensible center.

Obama won in 2008 because independents, which usually split almost evenly, surged to his side.

That they have surged the other direction -- and then some -- should tell the president where his problems lie.

The economy has faltered again, not because of burst bubbles but because of huge uncertainty sewn by the president’s own policies and his limp execution thereof.

The oil keeps spilling, Afghanistan keeps stalling and the country is sinking into a funk.

That these alleged geniuses are recommending a strategy that says “It will be even worse if the Republicans are back in charge,” suggests that Team Obama still hasn’t realized that they are the ones in charge and that the Governing Third that decides American elections will punish them for the sorry state of affairs.

Rather than having Obama preach hope and ask for patience for his plans, the White House will appeal to voters’ fears. Whether they hold off a GOP majority in the House or not, campaigning (and governing) this way is a loss for Democrats.

“Unlike 1994, when Republicans took control of the House for the first time in 40 years, ‘it's not hard to remind people of what the Republican experiment will be,’ Plouffe said. ‘It's very fresh in their mind.’

Democrats plan to highlight success stories, but they are being told they also must make the case against their opponents. ‘The key is to go into these districts, these battleground districts, and win them on the ground, win them on the attack with aggressive campaigns, win them in field, one by one,’ Axelrod said.”


Wall Street Journal -- White House Decision On Drilling Should Come In Few Days

Whether it’s the status of the offshore drilling ban or something even more sensitive, expect a turkey drop of monumental proportions from the Obama White House this afternoon.

Already enamored of using Friday afternoons to jettison unflattering news, the Friday before the national holiday makes a good time to air out some unmentionables.

Since the judges of the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans have set the hearing for the administration’s appeal of a district judge’s smackdown of the original ban for Thursday, now would be a good time to get the replacement ban out there.

The ban will presumably be some compromise with the oil industry that allows drilling but demands some rigmarole. Since the courts seem unlikely to grant the president the power to rescind duly granted permits by executive caprice, it’s probably the only choice he has.

Meanwhile, the relief well to stop the flow of oil is ahead of schedule, but hurricane season is making containment harder in high seas. BP is hoping to get bought out, raising the simple question of why anyone would want any piece of the still-undetermined liability that lies ahead.

Writer Jared Favole explains what’s up with the ban:

“Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has said the administration is considering issuing a new, scaled-back moratorium that would replace a moratorium that was struck down last week by a federal judge. The Justice Department has appealed the decision, asking a court to allow the ban to remain in place during a legal challenge.

Executives from an array of oil companies met with Salazar earlier in the week to push for lifting the ban.”


Cedar Rapids Gazette -- Hiawatha soldier may be first living Medal of Honor recipient since Vietnam

We are able to celebrate 234 years of American independence this weekend because of men like Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta.

The Iowa soldier showed uncommon valor in the doomed fight for Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. As enemy forces were dragging away one of Giunta’s wounded comrades who was shot trying to defend their undersupplied, undermanned outpost in Eastern Afghanistan, Giunta stepped up, took a shot to his body armor and then charged, bullets flying, to get his buddy back.

New York Times writer Elizabeth Rubin recorded Giunta’s bravery in her 2008 piece that proved sadly prophetic about the valley and the American Afghan mission.

The Pentagon had fallen into the habit of making the Congressional Medal of Honor a posthumous award since Vietnam, but pressure from Congress and outlets like Andrew Breitbart’s may make Sal Giunta of the 173rd Airborne the first living recipient in a generation.

Giunta is one of three living soldiers who have been nominated for the award, and writer James Lynch describes an all-American kid from the suburbs of eastern Iowa.

From the embattled farmers at the rude bridge in Concord, Mass. to a firebase in the backwaters of Afghanistan, men like Giunta have answered the call. We thank them.

“Giunta, 24, was nominated for efforts to save a comrade during a firefight in northeast Afghanistan in 2007.

According to New York Times Magazine, which chronicled the firefight in February 2008, Giunta’s unit was ambushed by insurgents. After a bullet hit his armor chest plate, Giunta chased enemy soldiers who were dragging away a wounded comrade, Josh Brennan.

‘I started shooting,’ he told the Times. ‘I emptied that magazine. They dropped Brennan.’ Brennan later died of his injuries.”


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