According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 54,000 jobs were created in May and the unemployment rate ticked up from 9 percent in April to 9.1 percent. The new jobs were only one-third of what economists expected.
The disappointing report comes on the heels of the New York Times story that Moody’s Investors Service is considering downgrading the United States’ sterling credit rating if Congress does not come to agreement on raising the debt limit in the coming weeks.
President Obama will take those disappointing job numbers and the threat of a downgraded credit rating with him to Chrysler Group’s Toledo Supplier Park in Toledo, Ohio. He plans to tout an economic victory on his watch after his visit with plant workers.
“The President will also hear first hand from local business owners and residents about the importance of the auto industry resurgence to the community as a whole and the economic devastation it would have faced had Chrysler been allowed to fail,” according to the White House.
Hans Nichols and Tim Higgins of Bloomberg News highlight the president’s challenge in claiming credit for the successful government bailout of the auto industry:
“As President Barack Obama tours a Chrysler Group LLC assembly line in Ohio today, gaining political credit for the automobile industry’s government-aided turnaround may be as challenging as returning U.S. carmakers to profitability.
“Obama’s trip to a Toledo plant that assembles Jeep Wranglers follows a week of White House publicity about the automotive revival, including a May 28 radio address by Vice President Joe Biden and a June 1 White House report saying $80 billion of federal aid for Chrysler and General Motors Co. (GM) saved at least 1 million jobs at automakers and their suppliers.
“The president also will have some good news to deliver for taxpayers: Fiat SpA (F) and the U.S. Treasury Department announced last night that they have reached an agreement for the Italian auto company to buy the government’s remaining 6 percent stake in Chrysler for $500 million.”
The New York Times’ Nate Silver writes that the unemployment rate doesn’t have a strong correlation to a president’s re-election as many political observers suggest.
But if bad economic news permeates the atmosphere as Americans continue to struggle to look for work, the actual unemployment rate matters very little. Americans will feel less optimistic the course of action and become increasingly open to the arguments of Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman and the rest of the 2012 contenders.
Members of Congress frustrated with U.S. military operation in Libya will get a chance Friday to take out their frustration on the House floor.
Lawmakers are expected to vote Friday afternoon on two resolutions.
One, offered by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, would give President Obama a second chance to make a first impression by requiring him to “provide within 14 days information on the mission that should have been provided from the start.”
“The American people and members on both sides of the aisle are concerned about questions that have gone unanswered regarding our mission in Libya,” Rep. Boehner said in a statement, adding that his resolution will provide members the opportunity to express the will of their constituents “in a responsible way that reflects our commitments to our allies and our troops.”
The other Libya resolution, put forward by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, demands that the president withdraw all U.S. forces from the Libya effort within 15 days.
Rep. Boehner’s alternative, which is seen as a less severe response, might be more palatable to those members unhappy with the Libya campaign but still concerned about the potential consequences of a sudden pullout from a NATO-led operation.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney suggested Thursday that the votes were unlikely to significantly alter the administration’s approach to Libya.
“We believe that the policy is working. We believe that the goal the President has is shared by a vast majority of members of Congress,” Carney said. “We have consulted with Congress every step of the way since we have initiated this policy.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., indicated her opposition to both resolutions in a statement Thursday night.
“The resolutions by Speaker Boehner and Congressman Kucinich, as currently drafted, do not advance our efforts in the region and send the wrong message to our NATO partners,” Rep. Pelosi said.
FAITH & FREEDOM CONFERENCE
Over the next two days, the religious right will get an up-close look at nearly every Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential nomination thanks to the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s conference and strategy briefing that begins Friday in Washington.
Five GOP contenders will deliver remarks Friday, beginning with Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann at 10 a.m. EDT. She’ll be followed by former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (11:42 a.m.), former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (8:48 p.m.), former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (9:13 p.m.) and Texas Rep. Ron Paul (9:38 p.m.).
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and businessman Herman Cain will address the conference Saturday.
The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty and Nia-Malika Henderson tee up the meeting with a look at how evangelicals will shape the 2012 race.
While each candidate will get a turn before the crowd this weekend, it won’t be long before they’re all standing on the same stage together.
CNN announced Friday the lineup for the first GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire, scheduled for June 13. Seven candidates are confirmed to participate: Bachmann, Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Paul, Pawlenty, Romney and Santorum.
For Bachmann, Gingrich and Romney, it will be their first debate appearance of the 2012 cycle, after passing on last month’s event in South Carolina.
EDWARDS CHARGES EXPECTED
It was just over three years ago that former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards shared a stage with Mr. Obama in Grand Rapids, Mich., and endorsed his former rival.
Since then, it’s fair to say, things have been going steadily downhill for Edwards.
The Associated Press has the latest on the expected criminal charges he’s likely to face Friday in North Carolina:
“Criminal charges are likely to be filed Friday against John Edwards, the culmination of a two-year federal investigation into money used to cover up his extramarital affair during the 2008 presidential election.
“Edwards’ attorney Greg Craig was traveling to meet Friday with prosecutors in North Carolina, an indication that the former presidential candidate is likely to charged, either in a grand jury indictment or in a negotiated charge to which he would plead guilty.”
Edwards has been the primary caregiver for his two younger children since his wife, Elizabeth, lost her battle with cancer and died in December.