Morning Examiner: The most important number of the week

Jobs: The approval rating numbers for Obama are already in. His Osama bump is small (about 6 points) and very narrowly limited to terror related issues (Afghanistan/foreign policy). But at 8:30 am today we will get an indication of how long that bump may last.

The Department of Labor will release their monthly job numbers today and few are expecting a positive report. Applications for unemployment benefits grew by 23 percent this month, and last week’s 474,000 applications were an eight-month high. Meanwhile, despite the fall of oil prices, gas prices continued their 44-day rise and will pass $4 a gallon soon. The National Federation of Independent Business said Thursday that twice as many firms cut jobs in April as added workers and that the number of firms planning to create jobs over the next three months was also weak.

The consensus view is that the Labor Department will report a gain of 185,000 jobs in April and unchanged 8.8 percent unemployment rate. Any backward slide in unemployment would be a disaster for the White House.

GOP debate: Frank Luntz’ focus group may have loved Herman Cain’s performance last night, but pundits are divided on who “won” the debate. One thing is clear though: Tim Pawlenty did not lose (Ben Smith calls it a draw, Erick Erickson says Pawlenty and Cain won, John Hinderaker also praised Pawlenty).

Pawlenty was by far the most polished and prepared on the stage. His answers were crisp and on target (especially his opening attack on the NLRB’s Boeing decision). He also began the necessary process of inoculating himself against his weak energy record. David Weigel tweeted that somebody in the press room whistled and said “wow” after Fox played a radio ad of Pawlenty endorsing cap and trade. The earlier people know that Pawlenty is just as bad on energy as Romney is on health care, the better.

Budget: The Gang of Six hasn’t publicly said their negotiations have fallen apart, but Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad’s (D-N.D.) decision to mark-up a budget next Monday or Tuesday indicates strongly that they have. Problem is, his fellow Democrats hate his budget, and no one out side of his caucus has seen it. And Republicans are crying foul.

It has been more than 700 days since Senate Democrats have voted on a budget. Republicans sent a letter to Conrad this week demanding to see a budget before they are forced to vote on it. Conrad has not responded.

2012 round up: Fox News has canceled their contracts with Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum

Righty playbook:

  • Cato‘s Michael Cannon makes the case for cutting Medicaid.
  • Hot Air‘s Karl makes the case that Sarah Palin is electable.
  • RedState‘s Dan McLaughlin says the Obama campaign’s purchase of is a tactical mistake.
  • The Weekly Standard‘s Michael Warren reports that GOPers have been energized by their recess town hall’s.
  • The Corner‘s Yuval Levin catches Jon Chait butchering a Paul Ryan quote to falsely claim the Path to Prosperity contains an individual mandate.

Lefty playbook:

  • Ezra Klein says the left should be focusing on defending Medicaid, not Medicare.
  • Mother Jones‘ Suzy Khimm notes that Paul Ryan is “a staunch supporter of the Davis-Bacon Act.”
  • ThinkProgress has a graph showing that “An Average CEO At America’s Big Corporations Earns 200 Times The Salary Of A Navy SEAL.”
  • Talking Points Memo posts a letter from Senate Democrats thanking House Majority Whip Eric Cantor for acknowledging that Medicare is off the table in this year’s budget debate.
  • The Huffington Post reports that Ron Paul’s call for Afghanistan withdrawal draws cheers at GOP Debate.
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