Discuss as:

First Thoughts: Better than expected

Better than expected: 117,000 jobs added in July (including 154,000 private-sector jobs) and unemployment rate drops to 9.1%... Obama to comment on the economy (and an effort to find employment for veterans) at 11:00 am ET… Memo to the political world: Yesterday’s Dow sell-off was about more than Washington and the debt deal… Americans’ response after the debt deal, per polls: “Worst. Congress. Ever.”… Rick Perry’s day prayer and fasting is tomorrow in Houston… WSJ on Bachmann’s “emotional connection” with voters… And Bachmann, Gingrich, McCotter, Pawlenty, and Santorum are in Iowa, while Huntsman remains in New Hampshire.

*** Better than expected: A day after the Dow plunged more than 500 points and after growing talk of a “double dip” recession, we got the results from the latest jobs report. The verdict? It’s better than expected, but the question is whether it calms the worries that appear to be much bigger than what’s happening in the U.S. And is it a silver lining? Or the start of a more positive trend? Per the AP, 117,000 jobs were added in July (including 154,000 private-sector jobs), and the unemployment rate dropped from 9.2% to 9.1%. “The mild gain may ease investors' concerns after the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted more than 500 points over concerns that the U.S. may be entering another recession. Still, the economy needs twice as many net jobs per month to rapidly reduce unemployment.”

*** Obama to comment on the economy: Of course, none of yesterday’s economic news -- plus today’s slightly better-than-expected jobs report -- is great for an incumbent president up for re-election 15 months from now. At 11:00 am ET, from Washington’s Navy Yard, he’ll comment on the economy and jobs reports at an event promoting the administration’s effort to find employment for veterans. According to Reuters, he will propose a $120 million package “of new tax credits for businesses that hire U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan at a time of stubbornly high unemployment at home.”

*** It’s bigger than us: Memo to the political world: Yesterday's Dow sell-off had to do with factors MUCH bigger than the just-completed debt deal. What’s occurring across global financial markets isn’t just about Washington. As the Washington Post writes, “On both sides of the Atlantic, economic vital signs are rapidly deteriorating. The United States’ recovery is stalling, and Europe’s debt crisis is threatening to strike Spain and Italy, which have two of the continent’s largest economies.” But the debt debate -- which focused on austerity rather than boosting the economy, and which highlighted the country’s political dysfunction -- probably didn’t help things. “The whole debate over the debt ceiling sent four negative messages to the markets,” a Bank of America-Merrill Lynch economist told the Post. “That we have a big debt problem, that we can’t fix it because we have a dysfunctional political system, that it’s okay to use the threat of default to achieve political ends, and that there's no safety net if the economy goes into recession because we’re not going to have any more fiscal stimulus.”

*** “Worst. Congress. Ever.”: A couple of weeks ago, congressional scholar Norm Ornstein dubbed this 112th Congress as the “Worst. Congress. Ever.” And after the combative and exhaustive debt debate, it appears the American public agrees with him. Per a brand-new New York Times/CBS poll, 82% now disapprove of Congress’ job, which is a record high in that poll. A CNN poll also had Congress’ disapproval at an all-time high of 84%. Here are more numbers from the NYT/CBS survey: 72% disapproved how congressional Republican handled the debt negotiations, while 66% said that of congressional Dems and 47% said that of Obama; the Tea Party’s fav/unfav is now 20%-40%, compared with 26%-29% back in April; and by a margin of greater than 2-to-1, respondents said creating jobs should be a higher priority than spending cuts. The best news for Obama this entire week? His job approval (48%-47%) remains relatively unchanged. By comparison, however, House Speaker John Boehner’s disapproval rating has sky-rocketed to 57%.

*** “We got to pray just to make it today…”: Tomorrow brings us Rick Perry’s day of prayer and fasting in Houston, which is billed “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis.” So far, this event has produced a couple of headaches for the Texas governor and possible GOP presidential candidate. First, NBC’s Carrie Dann reported earlier this week that about 8,000 attendees have registered (and that number is expected to increase). But the venue, the Houston Texans’ Reliant Stadium, holds more than 70,000. Second, it’s produced plenty of criticism from gay-rights and separation-of-church-and-state groups. As Dann noted, “The event is hosted by the American Family Association, a 501(c)3 organization that opposes pornography and abortion and describes homosexuality as the product of ‘a sinful heart.’” The potential benefit to Perry, especially if he runs for president: The gathering helps persuade evangelical Christians that he’s one of their own.

*** Bachmann’s “emotional connection”: But Perry would also have to compete with Michele Bachmann for their support. The Wall Street Journal profiles Bachmann, and it explains her appeal to conservatives this way: “She makes an emotional connection with her audience.” From the article’s lead: “On a recent stop here, she took off her bracelet, dangled it before the infant and cradled him while he teethed on the pearls. During another campaign appearance, Ms. Bachmann climbed down from the stage to take the hands of a woman who asked a question, holding them as she answered. Meeting a teenager with Down syndrome, the Minnesota congresswoman swept him up in a hug, then signed his T-shirt.”

*** On the 2012 trail: Bachmann, Gingrich, McCotter, Pawlenty, and Santorum are in Iowa… Huntsman remains on his swing through New Hampshire.

***Thursday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up with guest host Andrea Mitchell: Moody’s Chief Economist Mark Zandi on job numbers and the market drop… Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee (on his last day on the job!)… Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) on the FAA deal, jobs and Perry’s Saturday prayer event in Houston… More 2012 news with GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak, Roll Call’s David Drucker and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Cynthia Tucker.

*** Wednesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews, among others, Sen, John Kerry, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, CNBC’s Ron Insana, and NBC’s Tom Brokaw.

Countdown to Wisconsin recall general for GOP senators: 4 days
Countdown to Iowa GOP straw poll: 8 days
Countdown to Wisconsin recall general for Dem senators: 11 days
Countdown to NV-2 and NY-9 special elections: 39 days
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 95 days
Countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 185 days
* Note: When the IA caucuses take place depends on whether other states move up

Click here to sign up for First Read emails.
Text FIRST to 622639, to sign up for First Read alerts to your mobile phone.
Check us out on Facebook and also on Twitter. Follow us @chucktodd, @mmurraypolitics, @DomenicoNBC, @brookebrower