President Obama speaks with graduating seniors and their parents during a roundtable discussion on the interest rates of federal subsidized student loans at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia
Reuters: A surge in hiring in the world’s largest economy last month drove the Nasdaq to an 11-year high on Friday as optimism grew that the labor market is on a steady path to recovery.
The broad-based gains on solid trading volume also sent the Dow Jones industrial average near a four-year high….
The U.S. economy created jobs at the fastest pace in nine months in January and the unemployment rate dropped to nearly a three-year low of 8.3 percent, the government said.
“It is really hard to find something not to like in the jobs report,” said Andrew Goldberg, market strategist at JP Morgan Funds in New York. “There is genuine strength in this report with broad-based jobs creation.”
President Obama thanks Lt. Jacob Johnson, an Arlington County firefighter and U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq, for introducing him at Fire Station #5 in Arlington, Virginia
President Barack Obama poses for a picture with people in the audience following his remarks on the Veterans Job Corps at Fire Station #5 in Arlington, Va., Feb. 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
NYT: The comeback from bankruptcy at Chrysler hit a milestone Wednesday when the smallest of the Detroit automakers reported a $183 million profit for last year, its first full year of positive earnings since 2005.
…. Last year’s results show how far Chrysler has come since 2009, when it was taken over by Fiat as part of the bailout engineered by the Obama administration.
Its revenue for the year increased 31 percent to $55 billion, and worldwide sales of its cars and trucks grew 22 percent to 1.85 million vehicles. In the United States, its market share increased to 10.5 percent, up from 9.2 percent a year earlier.
WMUR: A new poll shows that the improving economy has also raised President Barack Obama’s standing in New Hampshire.
….Obama has seen his job approval rating nearly flip from the last Granite State Poll in October, with 51 percent now saying they like the job the president is doing, compared to 43 percent who don’t. Just 41 percent said they approved in October.
…. Obama’s improved fortunes are also reflected in head-to-head matchups against the Republican field in New Hampshire. In hypothetical matchups, Obama leads Mitt Romney by 10 points, Ron Paul by eight points, and trounces Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum by 25 and 21 points respectively.
Robert Shrum: …. So it’s Romney in 2012, despite glaring weaknesses revealed in the primaries, from his animatronic awkwardness to his plutocratic profile. The latter has been a product not just of attacks from his opponents — and the attacks will be unremitting in the general election — but of gaffes that are in reality self-revelations of his actual character and conviction. When he slips the confines of his canned answers, when an off-message moment or question deflects him from toeing his adviser’s carefully formulated tropes, he tends to shift from Ken Doll to Gordon Gekko.
…. For other candidates, the verbal miscue is an episode; for him, it’s an epidemic – offering $10,000 bets, saying foreclosures should run their course, claiming he feared getting a pink slip, explaining that $400,000 isn’t much money, announcing that he likes to fire people. (And at that, Romney has had a lot of practice.) He blithered about releasing his tax returns, then released only two years — and will face intensifying scrutiny about off-shore tax havens and whether he paid any tax, or almost none, in years we haven’t seen, like 2008 and 2009.
….Romney not only looks like the face of the Republican establishment; by his own words and deeds, he has become the face of unfairness in America, a profile in numbness and indifference.
Steve Benen: ….. “It’s safe to say Speaker John Boehner does not agree with President Obama’s suggestion on Tuesday that Americans are better off now than they were when he took office. “Are you kidding me?!” Boehner said loudly in response to a reporter’s question on the comment.”
…. Obviously, national conditions aren’t close to where they need to be. …. Maybe, if guys like Boehner would start passing jobs bills and stop holding the economy back on purpose, the public would start to feel like the country is on the right track again.
But for those who take reality seriously, there’s no real question as to whether the country is better off now than in January 2009:
Then the nation was hemorrhaging jobs; now it’s gaining jobs.
Then the economy was shrinking; now the economy is growing.
Then the American automotive industry was on the verge of collapse; now it’s starting to thrive.
Then taxpayers were sending money to Wall Street; now taxpayers are being paid back.
Then Osama bin Laden was targeting Americans and our allies; now he’s dead and al Qaeda’s leadership has been decimated.
Then U.S. troops were headed into the Middle East in greater numbers; now they’re headed home with their heads held high.
Republicans, including John Boehner, drove the United States into a pretty deep ditch during the Bush/Cheney era, and conditions are still pretty ugly. That doesn’t change the simple fact that the nation is much stronger now than the day the president was inaugurated ….
AP: A third former employee considered filing a workplace complaint against Herman Cain over what she deemed aggressive and unwanted behavior when she and Cain, now a Republican presidential candidate, worked together during the late 1990s, the woman told The Associated Press on Wednesday. She said the behavior included a private invitation to his corporate apartment.
The woman said he made sexually suggestive remarks or gestures about the same time that two co-workers had settled separate harassment complaints against Cain, who was then the head of the National Restaurant Association.
Washington Post: Car buyers were out in force in October, snapping up trucks and SUVs and taking advantage of deals on Japanese cars.
U.S. car and truck sales were expected to top 1 million in October, a surprising number for a month when sales are usually slow. When adjusted for seasonal factors, that would be the best pace since the Cash for Clunkers program in August 2009.
Mediaite: In a Quinnipiac poll taken Oct. 25-31, embattled GOP juggernaut Herman Cain continued to show amazing staying power …. (but) The real news from this poll, taken before most of the fallout from Politico‘s alleged sexual harassment expose, might be that some rays of sunshine are finally hitting President Obama.
….. President Obama gained six points on his approval rating … and is now beating all Republican challengers by margins of 5-16 points. The President has seen steady progress in the polls since rolling out his American Jobs Act in September, taking it on the road, and taking the fight to the Republicans who oppose it.
Elsewhere in the poll, Democrats opened up a lead on the generic House ballot, beating Republicans 42-36, after tying them at 39 in October.
AP: Michelle Obama has presented national arts and humanities awards to 12 community-based, after-school programs, including for at-risk kids.
The programs use dance, theater, writing, music, history and other art mediums to inspire teen moms and other young people and help them reach their potential. The first lady said at a White House ceremony Wednesday that the programs show that the arts are a lifeline – not a luxury – for many of these kids.
Most of the participants graduate from high school or earn a GED and go on to college.
The 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards are presented on behalf of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in partnership with three national cultural agencies.