Unemployment still skyrocketing

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On the roster: Unemployment still skyrocketing - I’ll Tell You What: The best vineyards of Appalachia - Trump tries to mount comeback with Biden attacks - Kennedy blitzes Markey - Florida birds

UNEMPLOYMENT STILL SKYROCKETING
NPR: “Another 3.2 million people filed for unemployment for the first time last week, bringing the total number of jobs lost during the coronavirus crisis in the last seven weeks to at least 33.5 million. Last week's number was down from the nearly 3.9 million initial claims filed the week ending April 25, and filings have fallen for five weeks in a row. The claims numbers come one day before the release of the April jobs report, which is expected to show a staggering jump in unemployment to around 16%. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that unemployment, which hit 4.4% in March, will average nearly 14% during April, May and June. Moody's Investors Service predicts it will rise to 15% during the quarter. The real unemployment rate is probably higher, says Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute. … One sign of how much damage the job market has sustained came Wednesday, when the ADP Research Institute said the private sector alone lost more than 20.2 million jobs last month, a record. The previous record was 835,000 jobs cut in February 2009, during the height of the Great Recession.”

Neil Irwin: Brace yourselves for Friday jobs report - NYT: “Just how bad are the April employment figures going to be? We know they will be awful. After all, the number of people filing new claims for unemployment insurance was in the millions for the seventh straight week last week, the Labor Department announced Thursday. But it is the monthly jobs report — showing job creation or losses, and the unemployment rate — that investors and the news media generally scrutinize for evidence of how the economy is evolving. When released Friday morning, the April numbers will show exactly how stunning the American economy’s plunge has been. It will be hard to find words to capture what those tables of figures will show. The last time the economy was in free fall, I wrote this: ‘The economy is unraveling so fast as to defy analysis through the usual statistical models. Among the phrases found in normally sober reports from the nation’s top economic forecasters yesterday: ‘god-awful,’ ‘wholesale capitulation,’ ‘shockingly weak’ and ‘indescribably terrible.’”

Administration shelves advice from doctors on reopening - AP: “The Trump administration has shelved a document created by the nation’s top disease investigators with step-by-step advice to local authorities on how and when to reopen restaurants and other public places during the still-raging coronavirus outbreak. The 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, titled ‘Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,’ was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen. It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance ‘would never see the light of day,’ according to a CDC official. The official was not authorized to talk to reporters and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. The AP obtained a copy from a second federal official who was not authorized to release it. The guidance was described in AP stories last week, prior to the White House decision to shelve it.”

But many states aren’t even following existing guidelines - NYT: “More than half of U.S. states have begun to reopen their economies or plan to do so soon. But most fail to meet criteria recommended by the Trump administration to resume business and social activities. The White House’s guidelines are nonbinding and ultimately leave states’ fates to governors. The criteria suggest that states should have a ‘downward trajectory’ of either documented coronavirus cases or of the percentage of positive tests. Public health experts expressed criticism because ‘downward trajectory’ was not defined and the metrics do not specify a threshold for case numbers or positive rates. Still, most states that are reopening fail to adhere to even those recommendations: In more than half of states easing restrictions, case counts are trending upward, positive test results are rising, or both, raising concerns among public health experts.”

Trump reverses, coronavirus task force will continue ‘indefinitely’ - WaPo: “President Trump on Wednesday declared that the White House coronavirus task force would ‘continue on indefinitely,’ reversing his suggestion not 24 hours earlier that it might soon be disbanded and reflecting an administration increasingly torn between a drive for normalcy and pressure to show caution. In morning tweets, Trump praised the task force, which was convened to manage the U.S. response to the global pandemic, and said it would ‘continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN.’ A day earlier, Trump had said the administration would probably ‘have a different group’ convened for that purpose, and Vice President [Mike] Pence confirmed a report that officials were discussing winding down the task force’s work within a month.”

Scalise will be top Republican on new coronavirus committee - Fox News: “House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy has asked GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., to lead Republicans on the new House Coronavirus select committee, saying the GOP will fight any effort by Democrats to launch ‘impeachment 2.0’ against President Trump. Fox News reported the appointment earlier Thursday and McCarthy publicly announced the appointment during his weekly press conference later Thursday. McCarthy also appointed Reps. Jim Jordan, an aggressive Trump backer from Ohio, Missouri’s Blaine Luetkemeyer, Indiana’s Jackie Walorski and Tennessee’s Mark Green, a physician. ‘Despite the Democrats’ intentions, I know these members will honorably serve the American people and making sure this does not turn into another baseless partisan pursuit,’ McCarthy said.”

THE RULEBOOK: BIG TOOL BOX
“Commerce, finance, negotiation, and war seem to comprehend all the objects which have charms for minds governed by that passion; and all the powers necessary to those objects ought, in the first instance, to be lodged in the national depository.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 17

TIME OUT: THANKS, JERRY
The Atlantic: “The release of Jerry Seinfeld’s latest special, 23 Hours to Kill, which dropped Tuesday on Netflix, feels especially apt for a moment when looking at the news for five minutes can trigger waves of anxiety. Nobody is less topical and more joke-focused than Seinfeld, the king of observational humor who for generations has existed to break down minute social details in painstaking and hilarious fashion. ... ‘I could be anywhere in the world right now! Be honest, if you were me, would you be up here hacking out another one of these?’ he asks early on in the set, which was recorded at New York City’s Beacon Theatre long before social distancing was on anyone’s mind. But that’s the comfort in watching Seinfeld’s act—despite the bottomless riches he still earns in residuals from his sitcom, he can’t help but take the stage and offer his latest musings on texting, the post office, and baseball-stadium hot dogs.”

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SCOREBOARD 
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 45.2 percent
Average disapproval: 50 percent
Net Score: -4.8 points
Change from one week ago: ↑ 1 point
[Average includes: CNBC: 46% approve - 54% disapprove; Monmouth University: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; PRRI: 43% approve - 54% disapprove; IBD: 44% approve - 44% disapprove; Gallup: 49% approve - 47% disapprove.]  

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I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: THE BEST VINEYARDS OF APPALACHIA
This week, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss the White House’s coronavirus response and its impact on the 2020 election, the federal government's role at large, and what's next for the United States economy. They also give their thoughts on the Tara Reade accusations, the next congressional funding package and what they recommend you read and watch this week. Plus, Chris faces some brutal crisis quote trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

TRUMP TRIES TO MOUNT COMEBACK WITH BIDEN ATTACKS
Politico: “Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is about to unleash a massive negative ad campaign against Joe Biden — the president’s most aggressive effort yet to damage his Democratic opponent. With Trump’s poll numbers sagging amid his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the offensive underscores how his advisers believe they must turn the race into a choice election between the president and Biden, rather than solely a referendum on Trump’s performance. The cash-flush campaign is slated to more than $10 million on an advertising blitz across broadcast and cable channels, as well as online. One of the commercials says Biden ‘coddles China,’ where the pandemic originated. ‘Joe Biden won’t stand up to China,’ the ad declares. ‘He never has. He never will.’ Trump has personally approved the onslaught, according to people familiar with the decision. The president is expected to huddle with his political advisers Thursday.”

Biden would roll back protections for students accused of sex crimes - Fox News: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' new Title IX reforms for how schools and universities handle alleged sexual misconduct -- including a provision granting the accused the right to ‘submit, cross-examine and challenge evidence at a live hearing’ -- have drawn swift condemnation from top Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi. But the new regulations -- which include restrictions on the scope of cases colleges are required to investigate and have the force of law -- didn't initially draw a response from former Vice President Joe Biden… Late Wednesday, several hours after the new rules were announced, Biden's campaign finally issued a statement on the matter… ‘It’s wrong,’ Biden said. ‘And, it will be put to a quick end in January 2021, because as president, I’ll be right where I always have been throughout my career — on the side of survivors, who deserve to have their voices heard, their claims taken seriously and investigated, and their rights upheld.’”

Republicans say no change to convention plans - Fox News: “Republican Party officials, pressing forward with plans to hold an in-person national convention, have hired a senior medical adviser to help ‘pave a safe path’ for the event in August amid the coronavirus pandemic, Fox News has learned. The Republican National Convention is expected to be held Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte, N.C. ‘We are fully committed to an in-person event in August,’ a GOP convention official told Fox News. ‘We’re forging ahead as originally planned.’ The official told Fox News that the Republican National Committee has hired Dr. Jeffrey Runge, a leading national health security official and medical practitioner, to join the GOP convention team as a senior adviser for Health and Safety Planning.”

KENNEDY BLITZES MARKEY
Boston Globe: “Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III is taking his US Senate campaign to the airwaves by launching a $1.2 million statewide advertising blitz later this week, the first major ad buy of his closely watched race against incumbent Senator Edward J. Markey. Kennedy’s campaign placed the buy Wednesday, with the spot slated to start airing Thursday. The campaign said the monthlong campaign will reach Massachusetts voters in all four media markets that cover the state — Boston, Springfield, Providence, and Albany. The 30-second spot will run on broadcast and cable, Spanish language TV, streaming services, and digital platforms, the campaign said. The spot, which was largely filmed with two iPhones operated by Kennedy at his Newton home, focuses on his work in response to the coronavirus outbreak.”

New York special House election heats up - The Buffalo [N.Y.] News: “The campaigns for special and primary elections in the 27th Congressional District are beginning to emerge from the Covid-19 shadow. With the two June 23 contests fewer than seven weeks away, four candidates looking to replace Republican Chris Collins in the House of Representatives are getting serious. Television ads, endorsements and potential endorsements are now surfacing in the special election between Democrat Nate McMurray and Republican Christopher L. Jacobs, as well as the Republican primary featuring Jacobs, Beth A. Parlato and Stefan I. Mychajliw Jr. – with the winner facing McMurray in November. The most recent developments include … New ads airing in Buffalo and Rochester this morning, touting President Trump's support for Jacobs and his conservative credentials in New York's most Republican congressional district…”

Loeffler jumps off of committee over stock sales - Politico: “Sen. Kelly Loeffler is removing herself from a Senate Agriculture subcommittee, in an effort to quell ongoing scrutiny over her stock trades and finances. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Georgia Republican, said the decision to leave the subcommittee on commodities, risk management and trade was another way to demonstrate transparency. ‘It’s now abundantly clear that the media and her adversaries will stop at nothing to attack her and take away from the important work taking place during this public health care crisis,’ Loeffler’s spokesperson said. … The move comes as Loeffler’s opponents continue to attack her over her financial transactions, and Wednesday's news didn’t bring her a reprieve. A spokesperson for Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who is challenging Loeffler for her seat in a special election in November, was quick to chastise the senator's decision.”

Colorado Congressman under fire for pressure on party official - The Denver Post: “Colorado Republican Party Chair Ken Buck, a U.S. representative from Windsor, pressured a local party official to submit incorrect election results to set the primary ballot for a state Senate seat, according to an audio recording of a conference call obtained by The Denver Post. ‘You’ve got a sitting congressman, a sitting state party chair, who is trying to bully a volunteer — I’m a volunteer; I don’t get paid for this — into committing a crime,’ Eli Bremer, the GOP chairman for state Senate District 10, told The Post on Wednesday, confirming the authenticity of the recording. ‘To say it’s damning is an understatement.’ Buck says he was merely asking Bremer to abide by a committee decision. At issue is the Republican primary for the District 10 seat currently held by Sen. Owen Hill, who’s term-limited. State Rep. Larry Liston and GOP activist David Stiver both ran for it. To qualify for the November ballot via the caucus and assembly process, a candidate must receive 30% of the vote from Republicans within the district.”

THE JUDGE’S RULING: CORONAVIRUS AND THE CONSTITUTION
This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano asks does America still have a Constitution during the coronavirus crisis: “The purpose of the Constitution is to establish the government and to limit it. Some of the limitations are written in the Constitution itself. Most of the limitations that pertain to personal freedoms are found in the Bill of Rights -- the first 10 amendments. … The current interferences with the exercise of rights protected by the Bill of Rights devolve around travel, assembly, interstate commercial activities and the exercise of religious beliefs. These infringements have all come from state governors who claim the power to do so, and they raise three profound constitutional issues. … We should rejoice that there is resistance to gubernatorial ignorance and arrogance that disregards the Bill of Rights. We need resistance to tyranny in order to stay free.” More here.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Ginsburg released from hospital after overnight stay for gallstone - Politico

Trump donor gets postmaster general post atop struggling service - WaPo

Masks become political footballs - AP

McConnell says Senate will vote Thursday to override Trump’s Iran War Powers Resolution veto - USA Today

SupCo unanimously reverses ‘Bridgegate’ convictions - Fox News

Judge to rule part of Florida law restricting former felon voting rights unconstitutional - Politico

House Republicans send letter urging Trump to extend EO, suspend all guest worker programs - Rep. Lance Gooden

AUDIBLE: FROM MARBLE TO PORCELAIN
“To be clear, the @FCC does not construe the flushing of a toilet immediately after counsel said ‘what the FCC has said’ to reflect a substantive judgment of the Supreme Court, or of any Justice thereof, regarding an agency determination.” – Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s comments on the “mystery flush” that occurred during the Supreme Court’s Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants Inc. hearing Wednesday.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“A thought occurred to me today after my wife had just watched [New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo] and asked why can’t he run for President? I know even if he were interested it is too late this cycle. But with the assumption that Biden will only serve one term and let his VP be the Democratic presidential candidate for 2024 I wondered what you think of the chances for this idea? Joe swore to pick a female VP running mate but what if he picked Cuomo (again assuming he is interested) with the promise that Joe will only serve one term and that Cuomo would pick a female VP as his running mate when he ran for President in 2024? I know that is a lot of ifs, and that not picking a female VP will anger some, but Cuomo seems to have very strong appeal to a lot of Democrats for a lot of good reasons. And obviously they can do some survey work behind the scenes to see if this increases the support for Biden or not in hypothetical pairings.” – David Zamarin, Las Vegas

[Ed. note: In 1920, Republican party bosses wanted a western progressive to balance the ticket with conservative Warren Harding. Keenly aware of the old enmities from the party’s ugly divorce eight years earlier. Teddy Roosevelt may have laid down his cudgel, but there were still lots of Bull Moosers who were angry at the party establishment that turned back TRs headlong charge to the left. But convention goers were so inspired by the story of Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge’s handling of the Boston police strike -- a story that made huge news coast to coast the previous year -- that they overwhelmed the bosses and forced the ultra-conservative Coolidge on the ticket anyway. Is such a thing as you described possible? Sure! But it would take a Coolidge-level groundswell among Democrats to force Biden against what he perceives to be the political necessity of choosing a woman as well as reneging on his promise. And given that women decisively outnumber men among Democrats, I think Governor Cuomo will probably have to wait for 2024.]

“Yesterday, my father gave blood for the American Red Cross, he’s been a donor for 60+ years and has accumulated 30+ gallons. He asked the attendant, if they were gathering COVID-19 data? The attendant said, ‘not at this time.’ He proceeded to tell her that the Red Cross is missing a huge opportunity to gather data on the number of blood donors that have the Covid-19 antibodies. These could be people who were asymptomatic for the virus and didn’t know they had it. The American Red Cross already has the platform for blood donations, all that is required is a COVID-19 test. The data gathered would include a representative sample from all 50 states and could provide a starting point for tracking the number of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. I realize this question/comment isn’t funny or witty, but I believe it is a common sense positive action to this pandemic. To me it seems we are all about the grand, sensational actions that the states and federal government are implementing but maybe this fight could be fought with existing resources?” – Susan Zolovick, Bucyrus, Ohio

[Ed. note: That might be a fine idea, Ms. Zolovick! Or it might be pure madness. I don’t know beans about blood collection, testing, etc., but maybe one of our marvelous readers does. Thank you for sharing and thanks to your dad for having such a big heart.]

“With regard to the current pandemic situation, your report of May [5] contains the following wording in the fifth sentence/paragraph: ‘…nature finds our weaknesses…’ and ‘…the awesome power of the planet.’ In the context of the article, who or what is ‘nature’ and ‘planet power?’ Did you think it would have been offensive to replace the words ‘nature’ and ‘planet’ with reference to almighty God? Some of us are curious about your failure/refusal to do so.” – Fredrick McCarthy, Indianapolis, Ind.

[Ed. note: Mr. McCarthy, my mother, a fine Irish woman from Indiana herself, taught me long ago that the greatest evangelism is that of example. People are drawn to a faith or a viewpoint by attraction -- they want what adherents have and become curious about how to get it. Now, if I went about censoriously scolding people for not talking the way I talk or thinking the way I think, I doubt anyone would want what I’ve got. In fact, I would push them farther away. So, I try to use language that is accessible to all. I don’t need readers to agree with me on the nature of the divine to make a metaphor about a waterfall, have a discussion about politics or even consider human nature. I want people to feel welcome here, not preached to. There are plenty of places they can get that if they’re in the market.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

FLORIDA BIRDS
UPI: “A Florida TV station's weather radar detected a large mass between the state and Cuba that turned out to be something other than an unseasonable storm -- it was a flock of migrating birds. The WBBH-TV news team said a display of bright colors flared up Wednesday morning on the station's weather radar between Cuba and South Florida. Meteorologists said the mass on the radar was actually a large flock of birds heading north to the United States as spring temperatures take hold. The station said more birds might appear on the radar as temperatures continue to rise. The National Weather Service shared radar images in September 2019 showing a massive swarm of dragonflies over three states.”

AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Among the many unintended legacies of Barack Obama, one has gone largely unnoticed: the emergence of a novel form of resistance to executive overreach, a check-and-balance improvised in reaction to his various presidential power grabs.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on March 2, 2017.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.