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As Job Growth Doubles, Republicans Insist Biden ‘Failed’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Republicans spent Friday morning attacking President Joe Biden over the latest jobs numbers, suggesting the figures, which were slightly lower than predicted, constituted a failure.

The U.S. economy in fact added 559,000 jobs in May — more than double the number added the month before. The improving employment data comes as new unemployment claims have dropped to new pandemic lows in recent weeks, in the wake of Biden's American Rescue Plan and a successful COVID-19 vaccination drive.

Though the new job totals were slightly below the economists' predictions of around 650,000 new jobs, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.8 percent — better than those same economists' 5.9 percent expectation.

House Republicans tried to spin this progress as a great disappointment.

"Economy falls short of expectations with 559,000 jobs added in May," the official House Republican twitter account complained.

"As we emerge from the virus, our economy should be booming, but today's lackluster jobs report shows President Biden's policies have stalled our recovery," wrote House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. "Bidenomics is bad for America."

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"Yet again, President Biden's jobs report misses the mark - further proof that the Democrats' socialist economic agenda DOES NOT WORK," Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the House Republican Conference chair, tweeted.

"Joe Biden's economy misses again," tweeted Colorado Rep. Ken Buck. "This is what happens when you disincentivize work."

"The May jobs report missed the mark by 100k jobs. Enough is enough," saidRep. Barry Moore of Alabama. "It's time for Biden to stop incentivizing unemployment and get Americans back to work."

Without evidence, Republicans blamed disappointing April jobs numbers — added employment of just 266,000 — on the $300-a-week emergency unemployment insurance payments provided under Biden's American Rescue Plan, suggesting they were somehow encouraging workers to stay home.

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But William Spriggs, the AFL-CIO's chief economist, noted that was not actually happening. "Labor force flow data show we are in a steady pattern of unemployed workers being able to land jobs. The early exits last Spring reflected the large share of temporary layoffs," he wrote. "The flat trend shows there is nothing related to UI benefit supplement changes."

After strong job growth under President Barack Obama, Donald Trump saw a net loss of about 3 million jobs during his term — the worst numbers since Herbert Hoover. While Trump presided over job growth prior to the coronavirus and its resulting economic shutdown, even his best month pre-pandemic was just 378,000 new jobs (in February 2018).

Biden has already regained a substantial number of the jobs Trump lost: more than 2.1 million in just four months.

He has also proposed an American Jobs Plan which would create and sustain millions more jobs over the next decade. Republicans have objected to it, instead offering just a small fraction of the new investments in infrastructure Biden requested.

Despite sustained GOP attempts to label Biden a failure, the American public is simply not buying it. A Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, released last Monday, found that 62 percent approve of his job performance and the same number approve of his handling of the economy.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

DeSantis Took $9 Billion From Biden's COVID Relief Bill He Slammed

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been a vehement critic of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which the far-right Republican and ally of former President Donald Trump has slammed as "Washington as its worst." But Steve Benen, in an op-ed published by MSNBC's website on June 3, stresses that there is a major problem with DeSantis "railing against" that bill: his willingness to accept almost $9 billion in Rescue Plan funds from the federal government.

Benen explains, "Yesterday, as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed his state's budget, there were plenty of smiles, with the governor announcing $1,000 bonuses for teachers, principals and first responders. 'We're proud that we got the bonuses through,' the Republican boasted. There was a detail, however, that DeSantis didn't mention."

That detail, Benen adds, is how much the Florida budget relies on federal funds from the Rescue Plan. On June 2, Politico's Matt Dixon reported that DeSantis "signed a $100 billion state budget bolstered by nearly $9 billion in expected federal stimulus funds, putting the Republican governor in the awkward political position of building his budget on a wave of cash from President Joe Biden.... The newly signed budget, the biggest in state history.... was made much easier to cobble together because of the American Rescue Plan, the Biden Administration's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package."

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The Rescue Plan came about strictly because of Democrats; not one Republican in either the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives voted for it — although some House Republicans have hypocritically tried to take credit for a bill they voted against.

Benen says of DeSantis' use of Rescue Act funds in Florida's budget, "It's not quite the same thing as congressional Republicans voting against the bill, and then taking credit for its investments, but it's awfully close. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), who's running against the incumbent governor next year, wasted little time noting the tension between DeSantis' condemnation of the Democratic law and the eagerness with which the Florida Republican celebrated the law's resources."

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Crist, who was a Republican during his years as Florida governor but is now a Democrat, said, "While Gov. DeSantis will try to claim credit today, the truth is that he opposed the American Rescue Plan. He opposed the funding that is providing bonuses to teachers and first responders. He opposed the funding that is helping cities and schools recover from a challenging year. And he opposed the direct relief checks that were a lifeline as our economy recovers."

DeSantis was elected governor of Florida in 2018, narrowly defeating the Democratic nominee: former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum — and he is seeking reelection in 2022. The Florida governor and Trump loyalist is being mentioned as a possible presidential candidate for 2024, although it's unlikely that he will seek the GOP presidential nomination three years from now if Trump decides to run.

Congressional Republicans Frustrated As Biden Rides Strong Approval Ratings

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Congressional Republicans have repeatedly tried to claim that President Joe Biden is already a failure, just a few months into his presidency. But a new poll shows the American public is not buying it.

"It took less than 5 months for President Biden and Speaker Pelosi's Socialist Democratic Agenda to fail," New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the new chair of the House Republican Conference, tweeted on Tuesday. "Unemployment is up, inflation is rising, & our economy is crippled by unnecessary spending."

Unemployment is actually down since Donald Trump left office in January and the economy is growing.

But that has not stopped numerous Republicans from making similar attacks on Biden.

Tennessee Rep. David Kustoff tweeted Thursday that Biden's "policies are failing the American people. We need a President who will open up our economy and get people back to work."

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene claimed Friday — incorrectly — that "Biden is failing so fast that his own voters are ready to vote for Trump in '24," apparently unaware of Biden's strong approval ratings.

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Some GOP lawmakers have specifically singled out his immigration policies for ridicule.

"The border policies of the Biden Administration are a complete failure and are leading to a massive increase in illegal immigration – with no end in sight," Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina charged on May 11.

Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn on May 6 claimed a drop in deportations was "a failure of leadership."

Others have attacked Biden's handling of jobs and the economy.

"The Dems' 'COVID' recovery plan to pay people MORE on unemployment assistance than they made in their previous job is killing small businesses," wrote Rep. Jodey Arrington of Texas on April 26. "This socialist policy was doomed to fail."

"In just four months, Biden has created four crises," claimed Alabama Rep. Barry Moore, citing the "Biden Border Crisis, Economic Crisis, Energy Crisis, National Security Crisis," as alleged examples. "This administration is failing the American people."

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But the repetition of the claim does not appear to have swayed the public.

A new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, released Monday, found 62 percent job approval for Biden.

His handling of immigration (53 percent approval), the economy (62 percent), stimulating jobs (62 percent) and curbing the pandemic (70 percent) also enjoy broad approval.

This comes as unemployment claims have dropped to pandemic lows and most American adults are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Still, despite the strong public support for Biden, Republicans are fighting against his agenda. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on May 5 that ""One-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration."

And Republicans reportedly are pulling back from infrastructure talks, upset that Biden wants to spend $1.5 trillion more than they do. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) told Politico on Tuesday that Republicans won't come up to "anywhere near the number the White House has proposed" for the American Jobs Plan.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

How That ‘Blue State Bailout’ Is Rescuing The Reddest States

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Since May 10, the federal government has dispersed $105 billion of the $350 billion included in the American Rescue Plan to state and local governments. The Treasury Department says 1,500 entities have received that funding, the funding Sen. Mitch McConnell adamantly opposed for the entirety of the pandemic, calling it a "blue state bailout."

"This state and local aid program is going to provide transformative funding to communities across the country, and our Treasury team is focused on getting relief to these communities as quickly as possible," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement announcing the progress of the funding thus far. "In the past 11 days, almost a third of the funding has gone out the door, and I'm hopeful communities will be able to rehire teachers and help businesses re-open much sooner than otherwise."

Tens of thousands of state, local, territorial, and tribal governments can request funding. The Treasury Department details the uses of the relief: "Support urgent COVID-19 response efforts to continue to decrease spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control; Replace lost revenue for eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs; Support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses; Address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the inequal impact of the pandemic."

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Let's check in on how that "blue state bailout" funding is going so far. Arkansas' Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has $1.57 billion for the state, and at the Arkansas American Rescue Plan Steering Committee Wednesday said that they could do a lot with it, from vaccine distribution to expanding broadband. "It is unique in history. It's a unique opportunity to improve the infrastructure in our state from broadband to health care to cybersecurity, from IT to water projects," Hutchinson said. Arkansas received a total of $5 billion, with the remaining $3.5 billion going to local governments and other projects.

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"We need all the help we can get. It wasn't until vaccines rolled out that we rounded the corner. I think money allocated for vaccines, not just vaccines, but the education of the public about the safety of the vaccines, is essential to continuing to solve what has been a really long year-plus problem," Rogers, Arkansas Fire Chief Tom Jenkins, a COVID-19 response force member, said. The steering committee chair, Larry Walther, agreed: "COVID response, decreasing the spread of the virus, getting the pandemic under control, vaccinations, contact tracing, those sort of the things are the number one," Walther said.

This week, Muncie, Indiana, Mayor Dan Ridenour, a Republican, announced the city's preliminary plans for using the first tranche of the $32 million his city is getting. Just over $2.7 million will help the city overcome a budget shortfall; another $2 million will help the city's restaurants recover; $2 million each will help small businesses and nonprofit organizations; and over $4 million will go to hotels. There's also funding for substance abuse and behavioral health treatment, public art, and neighborhood assistance.

In another not-blue state, Iowa, "both the city of Des Moines and Polk County are receiving nearly $100 million in aid, the most of any Iowa city or county. Twelve Iowa cities are receiving aid, and all 99 counties are receiving at least $600,000." That means each county is getting about $200 per resident, based on 2019 census data. The state as a whole is getting $1.48 billion in American Rescue Plan money.

Idaho is going to get $1.1 billion, and state officials have said it will be used to "substantially bolster the state's water, sewer and broadband infrastructure." Alex Adams, Republican Gov. Brad Little's budget chief, touted the five-year window for completing projects with the funding. "That's a huge benefit for a rural state like ours where it's going to take years for some of these large sewer, water and broadband projects to come to fruition," Adams said. Idaho's largest cities in the state are getting a total of $124 million, smaller cities $108 million, and counties another $314 million.

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McConnell's home state of Kentucky is getting $2.183 billion. "Our economy is surging and strong," Gov. Andy Beshear (a Democrat) said. "We are in a strong position to sprint out of this pandemic with continued positive economic indicators and with this funding that will create jobs, momentum and a better quality of life in every corner of the commonwealth." The state had already planned to use "use 1.3 million to boost the state's economy, expanding broadband, delivering clean drinking water and building new schools," and is "expected to create more than 14,500 new jobs." The state's general fund will be shored up.

The Tennessee Comptroller, Jason Mumpower, talked to one county's leaders this week to tout the projects available with the funding. "This could include helping workers, households, small businesses, nonprofits and impacted industries, such as tourism, travel and hospitality industry. Yes. You can use this money to make grants to individuals and small businesses," Mumpower said. "We look out across the landscape of Tennessee on a daily basis and think, 'Where does the greatest financial peril lie?' It lies in water and sewer. It lies underground," Mumpower told the Wilson county officials, who are expecting $28 million in relief funds.

All these Republican states getting all that funding passed solely by Democrats in the Senate, benefitting from the commitment to good governance -- and acting like they're goddamned adults like Democrats continue to model.