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Devastating jobs report underscores government's insufficient response

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
A man writes information in front of Illinois Department of Employment Security in Chicago on April 30, 2020.Nam Y. Huh / AP

WASHINGTON — Two weeks ago, we wrote how the federal government — including Congress — has failed to meet the moment of this coronavirus crisis.

And today’s jobs report only underscores how insufficient the some $3 trillion in federal spending (in loans, direct payments and other stimulus) has been to date.

The brutal numbers: A record 20.5 million jobs were lost in the month of April, and the unemployment rate increased to 14.7 percent (up from 4.4 percent in March).

Where is the urgency from the president, who this morning has been tweeting about Michael Flynn and draining the swamp?

Where is the urgency from Congress — given that the House didn’t return to D.C. due to safety concerns, but the Senate did (though it turned its attention to non-coronavirus work like nominations)?

And while Germany has spent more than half of its GDP on economic stimulus responding to the coronavirus, the United States has spent less than 15 percent of its GDP.

Now Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey have proposed relief payments of up to $2,000 for most Americans.

And Speaker Nancy Pelosi is working on another multi-trillion-dollar relief package.

But another Great Depression appears to be on our doorstep, and the federal government has been more reactive than proactive.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

1,267,279: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 27,231 more than yesterday morning.)

76,767: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,924 more than yesterday morning).

8.11 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

At least 85: The number of children who have now developed a mysterious illness linked to COVID-19.

35 out of 40: The share of black people arrested in Brooklyn for violating social distancing guidelines, amid fears of racial disparities in enforcement

Politicized Justice

First there was Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the Mueller report, which didn’t fully capture Mueller’s actual findings.

Then there was Barr’s extraordinary rebuttal of an inspector general report that concluded the FBI had adequate reasons to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign.

And now comes — easily — the Barr Justice Department’s most politicized move yet: It dropped its charges against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had previously pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI.

“The judge, Emmet Sullivan, still has to sign off on the motion. Flynn reaffirmed his guilty plea before Sullivan in 2018, and the judge told him at a sentencing hearing that wound up being delayed that ‘I'm not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense,’” per NBC News.

More: “Flynn moved to withdraw his guilty plea this year, arguing that he hadn't intentionally lied and that his prosecution was in ‘bad faith.’”

2020 Vision: I felt a great disturbance in the Force

Just hours after Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted that Team Trump’s Death Star would be firing its weapons, Politico reported that the campaign is about to drop $10 million in advertisements against Biden.

“The cash-flush campaign is slated to more than $10 million on a national advertising blitz across broadcast and cable channels, as well as online. One of the commercials says Biden ‘coddles China,’ where the pandemic originated.”

This morning, pro-Biden super PAC Unite the Country announced its own $10 million ad campaign, starting with a positive ad focusing on Biden’s past work on economic issues.

It’s worth emphasizing again that — so far — Democrats have been outspending Republicans over the airwaves in the presidential race since April 1.

When you look at all ad spending (campaigns + outside groups), it’s Team Biden at $9.4 million, versus Team Trump at $6.7 million, according to ad-spending data from Advertising Analytics through today.

Here are the top advertisers during this span:

  • Priorities USA Action (pro-Biden Super PAC): $5.4 million
  • America First Action (pro-Trump Super PAC): $3.4 million
  • Trump campaign: $3.2 million
  • American Bridge (pro-Biden): $1.9 million
  • Unite the Country (pro-Biden: $1.0 million

Ad watch from Ben Kamisar

Michigan Republican Senate hopeful John James is up with a new bio spot as he hopes to raise his name ID in one of the GOP’s only opportunities to go on offense in November’s Senate elections.

In it, James boils down his core principles to “Faith and family; God and country; service before self,” as he notes his Army service and business background.

The ad comes as the campaign recently announced his pledge to donate 5 percent of his campaign contributions to charity. It has netted about $547,000 to different charities, including $250,000 toward coronavirus relief efforts.

The apolitical framing comes as Democrats have significantly outspent Republicans in the race to define James on the airwaves — much of the Democratic messaging has blasted James on health care by tying him to the GOP plans on the issue and hitting him for his calls to repeal and replace Obamacare. The latter attack prompted a pushback from James in his only other ad of the cycle, in which he accused Democrats of telling a “lie about health care during America's worst health crisis in decades.”

The Lid

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we examined the White House’s stance on Obamacare amid a pandemic.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The San Luis Obispo Tribune tracked down a document from 1996 that documents how Tara Reade told her ex-husband about “a problem she was having at work regarding sexual harassment, in U.S. Senator Joe Biden’s office.”

Reade says that Biden should be “held accountable” and exit the race.

Vox details how Reade’s story — as well as the story from those who have corroborated her allegations — has changed from 2019.

Where has the president’s Cabinet been lately? And what does all this mean for Mike Pence’s 2024 hopes?

Even Republicans in North Carolina aren’t all that bullish on the idea of an in-person GOP convention.

The Senate failed to override Trump’s veto of a move to prevent him from taking further unilateral military action in Iran.

Duncan Hunter doesn’t have to report to prison just yet because of coronavirus.

The population of voting-eligible Asian Americans has skyrocketed in the last two decades.

There might be a bit of a legal mess around Trump’s decision to change his legal residence to Florida.