- * Gasping: Jobs report shows hiring crash
- * Christie survives, but still jammed up
- * House hits ObamaCare on hack attacks
- * Gillespie gears up for Senate run
- * Beer to the rescue!
GASPING: JOBS REPORT SHOWS HIRING CRASH - Dire December numbers just out from the Labor Department show that U.S. employers added a paltry 74,000 jobs in the final month of 2013. Not only is the number far below what economists were expecting (a minimum of 120,000 new jobs), it is nowhere near the more than 200,000 jobs the economy must add each month just to keep pace with population growth. The labor force shrank again in December, hitting 62.8 percent – the lowest since women joined the labor market in full force – as another 347,000 job-eligible adults dropped out of the labor pool. The total unemployment number stood steady at 13.1 percent.
[How can the top-line unemployment number keep dropping – from 7 percent to 6.7 percent – despite the lousy hiring? In a stagnant economy, that measure is largely irrelevant because it measures only those still looking for work.]
Un-fab five - The places with the highest unemployment according to the most recent data: Rhode Island, 9 percent; Nevada, 9 percent; Michigan, 8.8 percent; Illinois, 8.7 percent; D.C., 8.6 percent. The five best: North Dakota, 2.6 percent; South Dakota, 3.6 percent; Nebraska, 3.7 percent; Utah, 4.3 percent; Hawaii, 4.4 percent
HOUSE HITS OBAMACARE ON HACK ATTACKS - Democrats are set to face several tough votes on ObamaCare in the coming days. The Republican-controlled house will take up a measure today that requires the administration to notify individuals if their information has been hacked out of the ObamaCare databanks. The other bill under consideration would require weekly progress reports on the implementation of the health law. The White House opposes the proposal saying, the “bill would hold [ObamaCare] programs to unprecedented standards.” In another statement, the administration said the security requirements would create “costly paperwork” and the notifications would be “expensive and unnecessary.”
[Watch Fox: Rep. Darell Issa, R-Calif., discusses possible perjury charges against Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the 10 a.m. ET hour]
“We know this [ObamaCare] law has got a lot of issues with it, a lot of things I believe can never be fixed, but in the meantime while all this is playing out we ought to protect people from the harmful effects. That’s what the bill does. It’s a no-brainer. We ought to require the administration to alert those who are victimized by identity theft, if it happens, within 48 hour.” – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on “The Kelly File.” Watch.
CHRISTIE SURVIVES, BUT STILL JAMMED UP - Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., apologized for controversial lane closures last year that were allegedly arranged by his top aides in an apparent act of political revenge. “I come out here to apologize to the people of New Jersey,” Christie said. “I am embarrassed and humiliated.” The governor added: “I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here.” He also announced he was firing Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly, saying she lied to conceal her involvement in the incident. While disavowing any knowledge or involvement of the decision to close lanes of the George Washington Bridge to create a traffic jam at Fort Lee, the Garden State Governor emphasized he was ultimately responsible for the actions of his administration. Fox News has more.
[Six N.J. residents are filing a federal suit against Christie over the closures and are seeking a class-action suit, Fox News reports.]
Apology accepted - Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich says he accepts Christie’s apology, after a 45-minute meeting with the governor. The mayor told reporters, “The biggest concern is that we make sure that this never, ever, ever happens again in the future, We were unconditionally provided with that assurance.” Fox News has more.
De Blasio not satisfied - New York City Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio doesn’t think Christie’s apology goes far enough. While telling reporters he was pleased to see Christie come clean and take action, he said the lane closures were “not professional, it’s not mature, it’s absolutely immoral,” AP reports.
Christie prober a big Dem donor - Paul Fishman, the U.S. Attorney in charge of investigating Christie, has donated thousands to Democratic causes and candidates. Washington Free Beacon has more.
A span of opinion - President Obama should learn from Gov. Christie's apology – by former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.//Chris Christie got what he deserves – by 2008 Libertarian vice presidential nominee Wayne Allyn Root//Christie still stuck on scandal bridge – by Fox News Political Analyst Juan Williams
FRIENDLY FIRE - Graham: Christie a bully - Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says the bridge ordeal could pose problems for Christie in a Palmetto state primary if the governor runs in 2016. Graham told NBC News, “The edge is part of it. You know, he's a little too slick by half.” Graham went on to say, “It seems to me that this whole bridge thing reinforces a narrative that’s troublesome about the guy: he’s kind of a bully.” Christie explicitly said he was “not a bully” during his press conference.
Rubio: Let it play out - During a Thursday interview with CNN, fellow potential 2016 contender Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., declined to weigh in on the Christie controversy. Rubio said the public should let the situation play out and “I think the right approach is to be a bit prudent here and not jump to conclusions.”
[Republican media strategist Rick Wilson tells National Journal, “You're going to see conservatives returning the favor he gave them over the last year. There's no love lost between Chris Christie and conservatives. I don't expect them to be in love with him, and he doesn't want their love…”]
Power Play: The Lights Are Much Brighter There…“So Christie got the fast track to national stardom. But it’s not a free ride by any measure. Ask the athletes who shot forward to stardom but were then wrecked by the New York press. Roger Maris surely wished he was playing for the Cardinals not the Yankees in 1961 and Eli Manning has no doubt often envied his brother’s medium-market media perches. Or Mark Sanchez, who went from media darling to goat in the span of just four quarters of football.
Christie may have staved off disaster with his marathon press conference on Thursday and if he is being forthright about the corruption in his administration – he did not know and did not even tacitly encourage such misconduct – he will fight on. But now is the moment when those contenders beyond the glare of the New York media market start to have an advantage.” Read on.
REID PINNED ON WELFARE PLAN - While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won enough support from Republicans earlier this week to advance a bill that would extend unemployment benefits, the administration’s hope of passing the measure looks dim. Reid blocked Republicans from offering amendments, saying the party was “continually denigrating our economy, our president and frankly, I believe, our country.” House Speaker John Boehner has said he would only consider supporting extending benefits if the program is fully paid for. Fox News hasmore.
Nuked - From the NYT: “With his strong-armed change to the filibuster rule and an iron-fisted control of the Senate floor, Senator Harry Reid has engaged in the greatest consolidation of congressional power since Newt Gingrich ruled the House, unleashing a bitterness that may derail efforts to extend unemployment insurance. Mr. Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, on Thursday dismissed all proposed Republican amendments to the unemployment extension, even those drafted by Republicans who had handed Democrats a victory on Tuesday by voting to take up the bill.”
It’s all about the jobs - House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Thursday the focus will again be on jobs. As Washington Examiner’s Byron York points out: “Hill Republicans believe they have a new opportunity to make progress. The disastrous rollout of Obamacare, they say, has not only reduced the public's faith in Obama's ability to handle health care issues. It has reduced the public's faith in the president overall, and has in addition made voters increasingly likely to view Obama more as a cause of the country's problems than a solution.”
Obama backers try to sway wage message - From theWashington Free Beacon, “Business Forward, a trade association that has been accused of selling access to top administration officials, encouraged its corporate members on Wednesday to contact cable news network CNN to weigh in on the minimum wage issue.”
BI-PARTISAN CALLS FOR IRAQI AID AGAINST AL QAEDA - As al Qaeda insurgents continue to make gains in territories once won by U.S. forces, Republicans and Democrats alike are calling for the Obama administration to step up aid to Iraq. House Speaker John Boehner ramped up calls for more equipment to the embattled region. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., head of the Senate Armed Services Committee signaled he was open to the idea of selling attack helicopters to help the nation recapture areas seized by Islamic extremists. –Watch Fox: Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge examines the current situation in Iraq and what it could spell for future U.S. involvement.
“As a Navy pilot who flew combat missions in Afghanistan (2002) and Iraq (2003) and now as a Member of Congress, I cannot react to the news of Al Qaeda in Iraq’s resurgence in Fallujah and Ramadi with anything but frustration and anger.” – Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., writing for Brietbart.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY: AL QAEDA ON THE RISE - Guest host John Roberts discusses the resurgence of al Qaeda in Iraq with the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, James Inhofe of Oklahoma. “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” airs at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET on Fox News. Check local listings for air times in your area.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone considers why today’s political climate is so bitterly partisan. Barone notes: “…[A]s you listen to those laments about that golden age when politicians of opposite parties got along with each other – a golden age that recedes farther in the distance as you seek it – keep in mind that partisan bitterness is the product of competent party competition. Partisans get along less because parties compete more ably. It’s proof again that you often can’t have two good things – political comity and political competition – at the same time.”
Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 42.1 percent//Disapprove – 53.1 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.3 percent//Wrong Track – 62.8 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 42.3 percent// Republicans 42.2 percent
GILLESPIE GEARS UP FOR SENATE RUN - Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is reportedly telling Virginia Republicans he will run against Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. Party officials suggest the launch is expected in the coming weeks as the commonwealth’s Feb. 1 deadline approaches. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is wasting no time in their attacks against the former RNC chair. In an e-mail Thursday DSCC executive director Guy Cecil wrote, “Virginians don’t want to elect a DC shadow lobbyist like Ed Gillespie who epitomizes the reckless and irresponsible Republican economic agenda.” WaPo has more.
PICK SIX: SNYDER A SALVE FOR GOP SENATE PROSPECTS - Six: that’s the number of seats that Republicans need to flip from blue to red to win back the Senate. Which six seats are the most likely gains for the GOP? That’s what Fox News First is asking you. The prevailing consensus among Fox News First readers so far (in order of your choices): Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, West Virginia, South Dakota and North Carolina. However, reader Jim Dorman observes that Michigan deserves a spot on the list: “With [Gov. Rick Snyder, R-Mich.] at the top…[Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land] raising more money than expected, and ObamaCare hugely unpopular among conservative blue collar voters, I think she has a very legitimate shot at winning.”
ALEXANDER HITS THE AIRWAVES - Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has launched his first ad of the midterm election cycle touting his conservative credentials. “To that land where politics too often doesn’t work, Tennessee sends Lamar Alexander,” the ad says, “Conservative, honest, smart. Lamar Alexander is Tennessee.” Alexander is heavily favored in the August GOP primary where he will face three candidates. Roll Call has more.
FORMER NEW MEXICO GOP HEAD SEEKS TO UNSEAT UDALL - Former New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Allen Weh launched his Senate bid against Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. finished second to Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M., during the state’s 2010 GOP primary, AP reports.
WHAT SHE MEANT TO SAY… Spokeswoman for Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Heather Handyside says she misspoke when she told the AP the senator missed a key vote to advance unemployment benefits because he was traveling to the capital when he was actually delivering speeches and attending fundraisers in Hawaii. The Anchorage Daily News has the details.
CORNHUSKER COVER BOY - The latest issue of National Review features Nebraska Republican Senate hopeful Ben Sasse on its cover, the same status afforded to Marco Rubio in 2010. Like Rubio, Sasse is taking on an established frontrunner in Shane Osborn, the former state treasurer. The magazine dubs Sasse, the president of Midland University, a former adviser to Mitt Romney’s campaign and a top health care official in the Bush administration, “ObamaCare’s Nebraska Nemesis.” Sasse has received the backing of Club for Growth and the Senate Conservative Fund. The Omaha World Herald has more.
NOT SO TWEET: SENATE GOP CIVIL WAR RAGES - There was online escalation Thursday in ongoing warfare between the Senate Conservative Fund and the National Republican Senatorial Committee over SCF’s spending practices. Missiles flew with NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring’s tweet attacking an SCF’s purchase of books by conservative host Mark Levin. Conservative blogger Dan Riehl shot back at Dayspring’s facts and the twitter battle soon intensified as SCF backer (and Fox News Contributor) Erik Erickson @EWErickson, and former NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh @brianjameswalsh duked it out.
IOWA SECRETARY OF STATE SEEKS LATHAM SEAT - Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz is hoping to keep retiring Rep. Tom Latham’s, R-Iowa, in the GOP’s hands. Schultz announced his entrance Thursday into an already crowded Republican field, which may result in a nominating convention if no candidate reaches a 35 percent vote threshold. The Hill has more.
SOUNDS LIKE A BAND NAME… Tampa-area Republicans will head to the polls Tuesday to decide on who will be their nominee for the seat left vacant by the death of longtime Republican Rep. Bill Young. Contenders include former Young aide David Jolly and State Rep. Kathleen Peters. The winner will face failed 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink in an early March special election to fill the remainder of Young’s term. Whoever emerges on the GOP side, Sink is preparing now for an ugly campaign. Sink launched The Alex Sink Truth Team to offer a rapid online response to GOP accusations.
DEMS MOVE LEFT - A new Gallup survey finds 43 percent of Democrats identify themselves as liberal, double the number who did in 2000. Overall 38 percent of respondents consider themselves liberal compared to 23 percent who identify as conservative. The 15-point edge is the highest the polling firm has seen since 1992.
CALIFORNIA TEACHERS TAKE ON MANDATORY UNION DUES - A group of California Public Teachers have filed a federal lawsuit claiming paying mandatory union dues infringes on their right to free speech. Under California Law, teachers must join a union as a condition for employment. Their case will soon be heard by the 9th circuit court of appeals and could find its way to the highest court in the land. The group charges their dues often bankroll an agenda they do not agree with. Read more from Correspondent Claudia Cowan.
COURT RULES AGAINST ONLINE ANONYMITY - In what could be the key front in the most significant legal fight of the next decade, a Virginia appeals court ruled this week consumer review Web site Yelp must turn over the names of negative reviewers after a carpet cleaning company claimed the swipes came from non-customers. The company is seeking to sue the anonymous customers for defamation. The case is likely headed to Virginia’s high court and could land in the U.S. Supreme Court. WTTG has the story.
Sad trombone - In a new Labor Department report on future job trends, the only field expected to see a sharper decline than postmen in the next decade: “reporters and correspondents” will shrink 14 percent as journalism moves from being a vocation to an avocation.
BEER TO THE RESCUE! - Houston Fire Department Capt. Craig Moreau was off duty when he noticed a truck with smoke pouring from its brakes. After the small fire extinguisher in the truck’s cab failed to fight the flames, Moreau and the truck’s driver doused the flames by shaking and opening cans of its cargo: Coors Banquet Beer. Moureau told the Houston Chronicle, “I have no doubt if the beer hadn’t been there, the whole trailer would have burned up. A few more minutes down the road and it may not have worked.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…“[Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J.,] is now hostage to the truth. If he told the truth and he had no knowledge of this, it will hurt him. If he didn't tell the truth, and we will know it for sure one way or the other, if he did know about this thing, he's toast. It's rather simple…Christie’s strength is how tough he is, but it can be a negative if the toughness is a petty toughness…If it ends up that it's above and beyond the normal give and take it would hurt Christie, but otherwise… if he told the truth, he'll put this behind him.”—Charles Krauthammer, on “Special Report with Bret Baier.” Watch here.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace." He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.