The unemployment rate dropped sharply last month to 9 percent, the lowest level in nearly two years. Unfortunately, only 36,000 jobs were created. The drop in the unemployment rate was due to a significant adjustment in the estimated size of the labor force. The government revised November and December payrolls to show 40,000 more jobs created than previously estimated.
The Senate passed a resolution by unanimous consent yesterday “that calls for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to hand over power to a caretaker government.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) warned that there may be a “genuine massacre” in Egypt if there is not some transition of power.
The Obama administration “is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately and turn over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military.” The proposal also includes inviting opposition groups — including the Muslim Brotherhood — to join the transitional government.
A United Nations report released yesterday said that global food prices hit record levels last month “as a jittery market reacted to unpredictable weather and tight supplies.” Prices will likely continue to rise at least until the results of this summer’s harvest are known. “People don’t trust anyone to tell them about the harvest and the weather, so it has to await harvest time,” said one grain expert.
During an interview with ABC News, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said that Republicans are not proposing large enough spending cuts. Additionally, he doubled down on his call to end all foreign aid, including aid to Israel, saying, “Should we be giving free money or welfare to a wealthy nation? I don’t think so.”
In a letter to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) yesterday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner called his proposal to prioritize paying the nation’s debt over other budget needs “unworkable” and “quite harmful.” Pointing out that such a plan would destroy rather than improve U.S. creditworthiness, Geithner said abruptly stopping payments would mark “a first-ever failure by the United States to meet its commitments.”
Recognizing their incendiary error, House GOP lawmakers removed the term “forcible rape” from the anti-abortion No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. Chief sponsor Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) decided to change the term because it was being “misconstrued” and now the bill — which would permanently bar federal funds for abortions — will allow exceptions in all rape cases.
Algeria is going to lift a state of emergency that put several limits on the liberty of Algerians, in response to the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. The emergency was declared during a civil war in the 1990s, and has remained in place ever since.
And finally: Even though his hometown Chicago Bears won’t be playing, President Obama will have some famous company to watch the Super Bowl with this Sunday at the White House, including Jennifer Lopez and husband Marc Anthony. The Obamas will host 100 guests in their biggest Super Bowl party yet, including a bipartisan group of lawmakers from states with teams in the big game. No word on who’s bringing the dip.
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