Yahoo: The Tea Party movement is supposed to be the engine driving Republicans’ push for sharp cuts to spending and reform entitlements. Representative Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget, which passed the House last week, phases out Medicare for people under 55 and turns Medicaid into block grants. But it turns out that Tea Partiers, like most Americans, strongly oppose cutting Medicare and Medicaid. A new McClatchy-Marist poll shows 70 percent of “Tea Party supporters” oppose cutting those programs – and 80 percent of registered voters agree.
So though The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait has argued that “the Ryan budget represents the victory of the Tea Party mentality over mainstream conservatism within the Republican Party,” it looks like Ryan’s plan doesn’t represent the activists, either.
Slate’s Dave Weigel calls the Marist poll a “nice present” for Democrats, and “pretty ugly numbers” for Republicans. He adds: “If Democrats can keep portraying the cuts as worse than they are–this was done successfully in the 2005 Social Security fight–there’s a win here.”
For another articulation of this view, recall that even when House Republicans passed Ryan’s budget Friday, NBC News’ Mark Murray marveled at their political gambit: “Either the normal rules of American politics have changed, or Republicans have walked into an electoral buzz saw–on a Medicare plan that won’t pass the 112th Congress and that many of them didn’t campaign on in 2010.”
MSNBC: The U.S. economy posted a second straight month of solid gains in March as the nation’s jobless rate fell to a two-year low of 8.8 percent, marking a decisive shift in the labor market that should help to underpin the economic recovery.
Businesses created 216,000 jobs last month, according to the Labor Department’s latest employment report, after adding 192,000 jobs in February. The past two months mark the fastest two-month pace of job creation since before the recession began. Factories, retailers, education, health care and an array of professional and financial services expanded payrolls.
“All the evidence is pointing to a strengthening labor market,” said Bill Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock Financial Services in Boston.
Private employers, the backbone of the economy, drove nearly all of the March job gains. They added 230,000 jobs last month, on top of 240,000 in February. It was the first time private hiring topped 200,000 in back-to-back months since 2006 — more than a year before the recession started.
The unemployment rate dipped from 8.9 percent in February to 8.8 percent in March. The rate has fallen a full percentage point over the last four months, the sharpest drop since 1983.
Wall Street Journal: Dow Gains 6.4%, Posts Best First Quarter in 12 Years in Tumultuous Period …. Overcoming a pair of major shocks in the first quarter, global financial markets recovered amid growing optimism that the recovery from the financial crisis had become self-sustaining.
It wasn’t an easy ride, however. The markets were sent for a loop as political turmoil spread in North Africa and Middle East. That was followed by the devastating earthquake and nuclear crisis in Japan, which sent investors scrambling to reassess their hopeful outlooks for the second time in the span of a month.
While the markets staggered, they recovered and showed they were tough enough to take the one-two punch. They go into the second quarter still having to navigate strong cross-currents, but with sentiment buttressed by the ability to shake off these twin shocks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 742.22 points, or 6.4% to 12319.73 during its best first quarter in 12 years …. Reflecting investors’ willingness to take on risk, small-company stocks rallied strongly…..
BBC: With this jobs report it does appear the economy has reached a real turning point.
Not just a theoretical one, only of interest to economists either, but one that might actually lead to an improvement in the lives of millions. Because if about 200,000 new jobs are created each month then, slowly, America will get back to work.
Barring the one-off hiring of census workers in 2010, it is four years since more than 150,000 jobs were created in two consecutive months.
The US may finally be pulling away from the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. But it is only a turning point. There is a long way to go. More than 13 million Americans who want full-time work, haven’t found it yet.
Minutes after the government announced that that the unemployment rate dropped in March to 8.8 percent, a two-year low, House Speaker John Boehner called it “welcome news” but maintained that “Washington needs to do more.”
…House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called the jobless number an “encouraging sign,” but similarly said that “far too many people remain out of work and we need to continue our efforts in Washington to foster pro-growth policies that will help businesses small and large to innovate and expand.”
Neither Boehner nor Cantor mentioned the actual unemployment figure in their statements.
Steve Benen: “….here is a chart showing monthly job losses/gains in the private sector since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction – red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.”
Aug. 8, 2010: “We were walking through a locker room at the University of Texas when White House Trip Director Marvin Nicholson stopped to weigh himself on a scale. Unbeknownst to him, the President was stepping on the back of the scale, as Marvin continued to slide the scale lever. Everyone but Marvin was in on the joke.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Time: Three out of four American voters – 74 percent – like President Barack Obama, but a narrow majority disapproves of his policies, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today….
Given four choices to describe their feelings about Obama, American voters say:
* 41 percent like him personally and like his policies;
* 33 percent like him personally, but don’t like his policies;
* 1 percent like his policies, but don’t like him;
* 19 percent don’t like him or his policies.
Meanwhile, read these figures and weep, GOP:
…voters oppose cuts in the growth of entitlement programs to reduce the budget deficit:
* 70 – 25 percent against cutting Social Security;
* 72 – 25 percent against cutting Medicare;
* 59 – 37 percent against cutting Medicaid.
By 64 – 32 percent, voters say raising income taxes on those earning more than $250,000 should be part of any budget deal.
By 49 – 40 percent, voters oppose cutting federal funding for National Public Radio and by 53 – 43 percent they oppose cutting it off for Planned Parenthood.