economics

OH NO JOBS REPORT IS ... Oh, It's Fine Bordering On Just Okay? Carry On, Then

Weird pandemic economy remains weird.

The monthly jobs report for September was released Friday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it was another of those months for new jobs that fell short of economists' forecasts, largely due to the continued effects of the pandemic, with a downturn in government jobs, particularly in education. Total non-farm payrolls increased by 194,000 jobs, well short of the Dow Jones forecast of 500,000.

There were also some positive numbers, particularly in the overall unemployment rate, which fell to 4.8 percent, its lowest point since the start of the pandemic in February 2020. CNBC notes,

The drop in the jobless rate came as the labor force participation rate edged lower, meaning more people who were sidelined during the coronavirus pandemic have returned to the workforce. A more encompassing number that also includes so-called discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons declined to 8.5%, also a pandemic-era low.

More good news: Wages increased by .6 percent, reflecting the continuing competition by re-opening businesses for a pool of workers who find themselves with more options for work.

And as the Washington Post points out, the report

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Congress

What's Up With The Debt Ceiling? What Channel Is The Debt Ceiling? When Does The Debt Ceiling Start?

Take that, search engines!

With the US just 11 days away from defaulting on its debts, the Senate has reached a deal to temporarily raise the debt ceiling until sometime in early December so we can go through the same stupid fight all over again in two months. The deal was announced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer this morning while we were writing the first draft of this story and joking that an actual deal would probably be announced two minutes after we clicked "publish." We were so close! CNBC has the deets:

The agreement allows the debt limit to increase by $480 billion, according to people familiar with the deal, a sum the Treasury Department estimates will allow it to pay bills until Dec. 3.

Yesterday afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed the temporary extension of the debt limit, although it's hardly a terrific deal. But by heading off a possible default, it will at least prevent a meltdown of the world economy, at least until the new limit draws closer.

So did McConnell blink? Or was it just some weird turtle reflex? McConnell and Senate Republicans have been playing chicken with the economy and people's lives for weeks now by refusing to cooperate on raising the debt limit, which is usually a routine part of governing. But because McConnell sees a political advantage in portraying Democrats as fiscally irresponsible with next year's midterms coming up, he's not only refused to let the bill pass with a bipartisan vote, he's also refused to allow 10 Republicans to vote for "cloture," which would let Democrats pass the bill with only 50 votes, plus a tie-breaker vote by Vice President Kamala Harris.

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Congress

Dems Keep Dithering Over Debt Limit, Even Though Nobody Gives Two Sh*ts About It

Why? WHYYYYYY?

Senate Republicans' game of chicken with a government shutdown and a possible default on the federal debt continues today; if a stopgap funding bill isn't passed by the end of Thursday, the government will shut down, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Congress yesterday that if the federal debt limit isn't increased, the government will be all out of money to pay its bills on about October 18. Monday, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have averted both crises, and then yesterday, they did so again.

The shutdown is probably the easier to avoid; all Democrats have to do is remove the provision suspending the debt limit, and enough Republicans in the Senate will vote for the bill. But the debt limit, an arbitrary restriction on the government's ability to borrow to pay for spending it's already done, is harder, because Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell not only won't allow any Republicans to vote to raise it; he also won't agree to let Democrats pass it with 50 votes plus VP Kamala Harris's tie-breaking vote.

So instead, Democrats will probably have to pass the debt limit using the budget reconciliation process, which as we've discussed before, they can do with a stand-alone bill and just 51 votes in the Senate. (Let's stop your objection in its tracks. Reconciliation can be used three times a year, once for taxing, once for spending, and once for the debt limit. Using reconciliation for the debt limit doesn't use up the "tax and spend" reconciliations which would be used to pass Joe Biden's Build Back Better agenda.)

Unfortunately, as Politico reports, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer keeps saying he won't do that, at least not yet. Why? Honestly, we don't effing know. WHY NOT, CHUCK?

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polls

Democrats Can Head Off Debt Ceiling Armageddon RIGHT NOW, So ... They Should Do That!

Trying to get 'Republican obstructionist' points is irrelevant when everyone blames Dems anyway.

Americans sometimes believe some weird things, like thinking the moon landings were faked, that a malaria drug can cure COVID-19, or even that you can sit in a bathtub as the water goes out and not be sucked down the drain, a pernicious myth that has led to countless tragedies. So it shouldn't be too surprising that a new Politico/Morning Consult poll shows that if the US were to default on its national debt, more Americans say they would blame Democrats than would blame Republicans.

The poll, taken between September 18 to 20, asked respondents, "If the United States were to default on the national debt, would you tend to blame the Democratic party more, the Republican party more, or both parties equally?" Thirty-three percent said they would blame Democrats, and only 16 percent would blame Republicans. Irritatingly, a whopping 42 percent said they'd blame both parties equally.

That's just kind of maddening to people who've been paying even the least bit of attention. Mitch McConnell, after four years of routinely suspending the debt ceiling to add some $8 trillion in debt for Donald Trump, has instructed Senate Republicans not to agree to any increase in the debt limit now that a Democrat is in office. It's a cynical political move that merely threatens to throw the US economy back into recession, probably taking the rest of the world with it. So this is absolutely not in any sense a "both sides" thing.

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