THE MORNING LINE -- July 8, 2011 at 8:26 AM EDT
Obama Gets His Monthly Report Card
On Friday morning, President Obama will speak about the jobless rate, which rose to 9.2 percent. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images.
A jobs report does not an election make, but the Obama economy is in a rut and the president is going to find it harder and harder each month to earn the patience of the American people.
June produced another disappointing jobs report.
"Nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged in June (+18,000), and the unemployment rate was little changed at 9.2 percent. Employment in most major private-sector industries changed little over the month. Government employment continued to trend down."
While the market didn't anticipate much change to the unemployment rate, the uptick to 9.2 percent is now the worst since December 2010. Many observers expected the economy to add more than 100,000 jobs last month, which makes the anemic 18,000 jobs added a huge disappointment.
"The American people are still asking the question: Where are the jobs? Today's report is more evidence that the misguided 'stimulus' spending binge, excessive regulations, and an overwhelming national debt continue to hold back private-sector job creation in our country," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
President Obama is expected to face these jobs numbers before a national audience at 10:35 a.m. ET from the Rose Garden. He will then give regional interviews to WISN of Milwaukee, WTAE of Pittsburgh, KING of Seattle and WTVD of Raleigh-Durham.
Perhaps we should call them battleground state interviews instead of "regional" interviews since Wisconsin, North Carolina, Washington and Pennsylvania carry an important trove of electoral votes President Obama will be working to keep in his column over the next 16 months.
Tim Pawlenty has five weeks to prove his staying power.
This isn't where the former governor of Minnesota wanted to be in July 2011, but because of low poll numbers (which they are trying goose in Iowa as quickly as possible), a lackluster debate performance criticized by the candidate himself and an unimpressive fundraising quarter, Pawlenty has more riding on his performance in the August Iowa GOP straw poll than he would have liked.
"Will Republican Race's First In Be the First Out?," reads the headline above Jeff Zeleny's must-read piece in the New York Times:
"No contender for the Republican nomination has followed the conventional playbook more than Mr. Pawlenty, a former governor of Minnesota who began introducing himself two years ago during a prospecting trip to Iowa. Yet his path has been complicated by fresher faces, an unruly nominating contest and a handful of missteps that swallowed his summer momentum.
"The voting will not open for at least six months, but Mr. Pawlenty knows that his performance at the Iowa Straw Poll on Aug. 13 -- fair or not -- will help determine whether his candidacy accelerates or lands in the annals of Republican presidential hopefuls like Elizabeth Dole, Lamar Alexander and Dan Quayle whose campaigns were extinguished here."
Although Pawlenty has refused to take on his primary Iowa obstacle -- fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann -- he did offer this bit of contrast during his interview with editors and reporters at the Des Moines Register:
"Each candidate brings some different strengths to the table, and mine include having been an executive of a large public enterprise in a difficult environment and actually getting things proposed and results to conclusion. I'm not sure what she would say in that regard....She's been in the legislative arena, as to specific results that have been achieved, I'm not sure what they would be."
The campaign is out with a new web video based on Pawlenty's travels around Iowa this week.
It'll be hard to tell if he's running for president or for statewide office for the next five weeks. The Iowa caucuses were always going to be a must-win for Pawlenty to advance his candidacy, but his straw poll performance may now be the ballgame for him.
A TOUGH SELL
President Obama conceded Thursday that Democrats and Republicans were "still far apart on a wide range of issues" on deficit reduction. While working out those differences will be no easy task, it has become clear that if party leaders are able to reach an agreement on a framework in the coming days, the effort to sell the deal to members on both sides of the aisle could prove even more difficult.
In order to achieve $4 trillion in savings over the next decade the president is asking lawmakers to put everything on the table: spending cuts, reforms to popular retirement programs and revenue increases.
By asking everyone to share in the political pain, the president has given members of both parties something to grumble about.
After returning to the Capitol from the White House Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters that "any discussion of Medicare or Social Security should be on its own table."
The president called Thursday's meeting "frank," and he'll likely find himself on the end of some more straight talk from Rep. Pelosi Friday at 10 a.m. ET when the two have a private meeting in the Oval Office.
While the president fends off criticism from liberals concerned about possible changes to Medicare and Social Security, House Speaker Boehner has skeptical Republicans to worry about.
POLITICO's David Rogers reports:
"Boehner's forces appeared shaken Thursday by the skepticism they encountered for even entertaining new tax revenues as part of the package. And the GOP's divisions broke into the open at a White House meeting hosted by Obama for congressional leaders."
The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane, meanwhile, detail the cool reception Rep. Boehner received from Senate Republicans:
"Boehner enthusiastically endorsed Obama's call for a far-reaching plan. Later at the Capitol, Boehner made his own pitch to reluctant Senate Republicans, arguing in a closed-door luncheon that securing the nation's economic future requires bold action. Boehner also said he expects a deal to come together quickly -- or to collapse under the weight of partisan resistance."
That sentiment was shared by other Republicans, including Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, who served with Boehner in the House GOP leadership prior to his election to the Senate last fall. "I think if they can get there, they'll get there pretty quickly, or they won't get there," Blunt said.
A quick deal might be a good sign politically, but it's also a necessity. Lawmakers have until Aug. 2 to finalize an agreement or risk a default on the nation's debt obligations, but the framework of a deal must come before the deadline -- by the end of next week -- to leave enough time for members to act on the legislation.
IT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., may not be Capitol Hill's biggest fan of environmental regulation, but he can certainly appreciate clean water.
The ranking member of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee said he became "deathly sick" with an upper respiratory infection after swimming last week in Oklahoma's Grand Lake, which had become ridden with blue-green algae.
POLITICO's Patrick Reis reports the Sierra Club sent the senator a handwritten get well card and a red rose.
"We hope you have a speedy recovery and that we can work together to ensure all of our nation's lakes are safe for swimming, drinking and fishing," read the note from Debbie Sease, Sierra Club's legislative director.
Reis also quotes Inhofe spokesman Matt Dempsey, who said the senator welcomed the environmental advocacy group's gesture.
"Too often on these issues, there hasn't been enough humor involved, and certainly we appreciate the Sierra Club's humor on this," Dempsey said.
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