WATCH LIVE: Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds White House press briefing
June 14, 2018, 2:53 PM ET
The president signed, over the weekend, legislation that would lift the cap on borrowing just shy of the deadline, after which the United States would have defaulted on its debt for the first time. The drama took attention away from the latest jobs report released Friday. Firms added nearly 440,000 jobs in May.
It “marked the 29th straight month of job growth, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” reported the Post’s Lauren Kaori Gurley. “Despite some slowing, the labor market continues to buoy the US economy through enormous uncertainty.” She added: “Economists had predicted a much smaller number of jobs created in May — around 180,000.”
The impact of the latest jobs report is an occasion for a fresh observation (I hope) – that the further we get into recovering from a deadly once-a-century plague, the less people who know what they are talking about expect it to keep going. The less they expect it to keep going, the more these same people, who are supposed to know what they are talking about, are surprised when it does.
READ MORE: 'Objectively Amazing': Economists cheer 'extraordinarily robust' jobs report
In recent months, jobs reports I have seen have been accompanied by some variation of the word “surprise” – as in job growth continues to be “surprising” or “unexpected.” It continues to “defy predictions.” Or, my favorite bit of bureaucratese, it continues to “exceed data analysts’ economic forecasts.”
I don’t know any more about economics than you do. I don’t want to misrepresent myself. But I do know that things change over time and that our thinking about things has to change along with them. If our thinking does not change, we won’t understand what’s happening now. We will be thinking about how things worked in the past, but not how they are working in the present.
In the past (specifically, the 1970s), the thinking was that high prices caused recession. High prices hurt economically, ergo they hurt politically. Ask some of these people who are supposed to know what they are talking about why Jimmy Carter was a one-term president, and they will likely tell you: inflation.
The Federal Reserve has two equal mandates: prices and jobs. Since the 1970s, however, prices have been the priority. Back then, as it’s doing now, the Fed raised interest rates in response to rising prices. Raising interest rates caused firms to hire less or even lay off workers. This was not an accident. This was intentional. The point was pushing workers onto the unemployment line.
READ MORE: Republicans can’t stop won’t stop hating the poor
Why? Because, back then, the thinking was that the cost of labor was causing everything to cost more. Stop labor costs from rising and you’ll stop the cost of everything else from rising, too. To do that, the Fed kept raising interest rates.
It wasn’t always like this. Before 1980, the federal government used other tools, in particular something called “price controls” that targeted products deemed to be in the national interest, such as gasoline. But since the 1970s, “price controls” have been demonized as communism. To my knowledge, no president since the 1980s has talked seriously about revisiting the use of price controls.
You’ll notice that the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates. You’ll also notice that firms are not hiring less or laying off more. (Layoffs in the tech sector are the exception, but people who know what they are talking about say that the impact will likely stay in that sector of the economy.) There have been two and a half years of job growth even as interest rates have kept going up.
You’ll notice, too, that the financial press keeps talking about jobs and the economy as if two and a half years of job growth were not supposed to have happened in the face of rising interest rates. Matter of fact, the way they tell the story, we were supposed to be in a recession months ago. Yet here we are.
They also keep putting jobs and prices at odds. Here’s Bloomberg News, after the “surprising” monthly jobs report was released on Friday: “When (and how) will central banks declare some measure of victory over price surges and stop (or even reverse) more than a year of [interest rate] tightening? The Federal Reserve says it’s notched some progress and that the US economy is cooling down. But the job market hasn’t cracked, with payrolls still surging” (my italics).
I don’t know any more about you than you do. What I do know is that things change over time and that our thinking must change along with them. Right now, the thinking is that jobs, not prices, are the problem. Right now, the solution has been that raising interest rates would solve the problem. It’s not solving the problem, though. I suggest it’s because our thinking is outdated.
Perhaps prices are the problem, not jobs.
If we updated our thinking, perhaps we’d no longer be so surprised.
READ MORE: Ex-Hedge fund CEO eyeing GOP Senate seat helped corporations outsource to 'low-cost countries': report
MSNBC host Joy Reid began her show on Monday by paraphrasing former FBI Director James Comey, saying, "Lordy there are tapes."
She cited the New York Times report revealing Donald Trump's lawyer Evan Corcoran has several recordings of his notes that he took about meetings he had with Trump. Those have since been subpoenaed by the special counsel.
Reid asked former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks what she makes of the fact that there are tapes with his lawyer telling Trump he can't have the documents and he can't keep them.
"This is, again, an accumulation of evidence mounting to the point where I can't see how you can avoid an indictment," said Wine-Banks. "It has to go to trial. It has to be seen by a jury. You have a situation where you have the president on tape, we think. You know, I haven't heard the tape, but based on the reporting, there's a tape where he is saying, 'I have a classified document, so I can't show it to you, which means he knows, A: he has classified documents, and B: he can't show them to anybody, and he hasn't declassified them."
Lawyers are saying that he has to turn over the subpoenaed documents, which Wine-Banks said was a very broad request for "all classified documents." All of the non-classified documents are still the property of the National Archives.
"So, this shows his knowledge, his intent in keeping it, and then you have the fact that this is supposedly a document that is to rebut Gen. [Mark] Milley and show that he was right, he Donald Trump, was right about the Iran situation. That's really serious. That means it's at a classification level that is guaranteed to hurt the government and our security if the information is released. And we hear the rustling of papers. We don't know, it could be he's just holding up a piece of paper. It could be he's lying, and the paper he's discussing isn't about Iran. We don't know. But isn't it a shame that we have a former president of the United States where we can't tell whether his best defense is I was lying and we would believe him because he lies so often, or whether it's actual proof he did it."
Reid also mentioned that she was unaware that there were two grand juries, one in Washington, D.C. and one in Florida.
New York Times reporter Katie Benner explained that the reason that one would have a Florida case is that was the location in which Trump allegedly obstructed justice. The other charges about the documents themselves could be in Washington. She explained it wouldn't be the first time the DOJ brought charges in two different jurisdictions.
Her example was Paul Manafort, who was charged in both Virginia and Washington, D.C.
See the discussion below or at the link here.
Watergate prosecutors www.youtube.com
There was a debate throughout yesterday about whether Donald Trump's possible trial for the stolen documents would be in Washington, D.C., or in Florida.
New York Times reporter Katie Benner explained Monday that one would have a Florida case because it was the location in which Trump allegedly obstructed justice. The other charges about the documents themselves could be in Washington. She explained it wouldn't be the first time the DOJ brought charges in two different jurisdictions and cited Paul Manafort as another.
Andrew Weissmann, the former lead prosecutor on Robert Mueller's team, explained that "it is conceivable that Donald Trump would be charged in Florida and not D.C. I don't think that will be the case. But I do think the one thing I'm pretty confident of is that we are going to see charges with respect to the classified documents case, and it seems by all accounts it's going to be this week because I think that DOJ will feel that internal pressure to move this along."
It's an issue that has been debated on "legal Twitter," the group of lawyers that debate the law and cases.
Secrets and Laws, an account that purports to be run by a former CIA lawyer, mentioned that there has been little conversation about the potential venue. Brandon Van Grack, a former Justice Department national security official, hopes for Washington, while national security analyst Marcy Wheeler expects Florida to be the location. Another commentator, LegalNerd, walked through the potential charges and what the law says about the venue.
Former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal explained that crimes may have occurred in Florida, but it doesn't necessarily mean the trial would be there.
"If the news reports are to be believed, it looks like Trump is better at draining the pool than he is at draining the swamp," Katyal quipped, speaking to MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell Monday. "You are absolutely right; this all occurred in Florida. But that doesn't make the venue for the criminal charge reside only in Florida. The overall criminal case is based on one kind of central set of facts, his mishandling of classified information, and then lying about it, and obstructing the investigation afterward. That took place both in D.C. and in Florida. Prosecutors will have their pick of where to indict this entire ball of wax."
But Katyal thinks that it will be in Washington — and here's why:
"I suspect all of it will be in Washington, D.C. There was an argument up until a couple of weeks ago that maybe Florida was the relevant place, but then, you had Donald Trump doing what he always does, putting his foot in his mouth on national TV in the CNN town hall. He says I made these decisions in Washington, D.C. Prosecutors must have been smiling when he said that and said, yes, that's when you make that decision. That's where the case is gonna be indicted."
See the discussion below or at the link here.
Former White House lawyer explains how Trump's CNN town hall could influence the trial's venue youtu.be
For corrections contact firstname.lastname@example.org, for support contact email@example.com.