Jobs: A much-anticipated new jobs report out this morning shows the economy created just 96,000 jobs last month, edging the unemployment rate down slightly to 8.1 percent. The number is lower than the 125,000 expected, but not as bad as some previous months. The drop in the unemployment rate, while seeming positive, could actually be a bad sign as it comes in part because hundreds of thousands of Americans have given up on finding jobs and dropped out of the workforce altogether. The timing of the jobs report — less than 12 hours after President Obama’s big speech at the Democratic National Convention — gave it extra significance, so expect to see Republicans slamming the news by focusing on the disappointing job creation numbers and drop in workforce participation, while Democrats will focus on the lower unemployment rate. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus was quick to release a statement slamming Obama, saying, “We’re not creating jobs fast enough … certainly not better off than four years ago.”
Paging Ben Bernanke: The one big silver lining of the weak jobs report is it may finally spur the Federal Reserve into action after months of sitting on the sideline. The Fed had indicated that if job growth in August was lower than expected, they would likely feel ready to launch another round of stimulus via a technique known as quantitative easing. Fed officials meet this week to determine new policy, so expect to see a lot discussion about “QE3,” a third round of quantitative easing.
Akin campaign achin’: Rep. Todd Akin’s campaign is struggling to pay the bills. The Akin campaign’s latest ad buy — aimed at showing he’s still a viable candidate, despite the GOP abandoning him — has been canceled after he failed to pay a television station. “The campaign had paid the first half of the buy, but the station did not receive the other half. The TV station also said that it has confirmed that other stations have been put in the same position. The Akin campaign told CBS radio that the payment problem was a scheduling mistake, and the next checks are on their way,” TPM reports.
UPDATE: Akin tweeted at Salon, “unable to pay is misleading & wrong. We’re shifting schedules & paying for the ad time we want.”
Lame duck hunt: The Democrats offered clues during the Democratic National Convention about their strategy heading into the lame-duck session of Congress after the November election, suggesting they plan on a showdown with Republicans over tax and spending policy. As in 2010, there is much business left to be done in the lame duck session, including averting the so-called fiscal cliff of spending cuts and tax increases slated to go into effect in January. It appears that Democrats feel they are in a strong position politically and are ready to go to war over taxes, a departure from 2011, when they easily capitulated. “The lame duck would be a terrible thing to waste,” said Gene Sperling, director of the White House National Economic Council.
Guantanamo, still open: A federal judge has rejected the Obama administration’s efforts to change the rules under which Guantanamo Bay detainees are represented by lawyers. Denouncing what he called “an illegitimate exercise of executive power,” U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said in his 32-page ruling that an existing 2008 court order will continue to guide detainees’ access to counsel, even in cases where there is not an active habeas corpus petition. “It is clear that the government had no legal authority to unilaterally impose a counsel-access regime, let alone one that would render detainees’ access to counsel illusory,” Lamberth wrote.