Good signs for economy as inflation eases again

Good signs for economy as inflation eases again

Key inflation data released today showed the year-over-year rate at another new low since the onset of the pandemic — a fresh sign that the economy is on the mend.

The headline number: The consumer price index was at 3% for the month of June, compared to the year before.

The benchmarks:

  • This is a significant improvement from the May figure, which sat at 4%.
  • This is a major improvement from last year’s peak of 9.1% in June.
  • The last time the CPI was near 3% was all the way back in March 2021.

The context: While today’s figure still sits above the Fed’s annualized target rate of 2%, it still offers “some of the most hopeful news since the Federal Reserve began trying to tame rapid price increases 16 months ago,” NYT’s Jeanna Smialek writes. Still, the Fed “may be cautious in interpreting the news. Officials have signaled in recent weeks that they are likely to raise interest rates at their July 25-26 meeting.”

WHAT DEMS ARE READING — Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) is set to headline an event next week in New Hampshire with … No Labels — the bipartisan organization that has been trumpeting the idea of a unity ticket for 2024. The event on Monday will see Manchin and former Utah GOP Gov. JON HUNTSMAN as featured guests for No Labels’ “Common Sense” town hall at St. Anselm College, WaPo’s John Wagner reports.

Democrats have actively tried to undermine No Labels’ prospect of a third-party presidential ticket, arguing that any serious effort could torpedo Biden’s reelection campaign. And, of course, adding to the angst is the involvement of Manchin, who has yet to formally announce plans for a Senate reelection run.

Here’s Manchin’s statement on the No Labels event: “It is clear that most Americans are exceedingly frustrated by the growing divide in our political parties and toxic political rhetoric from our elected leaders. … Our political discourse is lacking engaged debates around common sense solutions to solve the pressing issues facing our nation.”

The Dem concern: Echelon Insights, a polling firm that works with Republican clients, is up with some new poll data that shows just how much Manchin could influence the 2024 race if he were to run as an independent candidate.

In head-to-head matchups, Biden beats DONALD TRUMP and RON DeSANTIS by 2 and 4 percentage points, respectively. But if you introduce Manchin into the field? While the West Virginia Dem doesn’t break 10% in either model, he siphons enough votes away from Biden to tip the scale in favor of Trump. (Interestingly, Biden still beats DeSantis by 4 percentage points even with Manchin in the field.)

MEANWHILE — West Virginia GOP Gov. JIM JUSTICE announced today that his Senate campaign raised $935,035 for the second quarter, a sum that puts him on solid footing in a primary against Rep. ALEX MOONEY (R-W.Va.). While Mooney’s Q2 numbers have not been released yet, his first quarter haul came in just about $500,000.

But, but, but: This morning, Club for Growth Action and Protect Freedom PAC announced that they are throwing their support behind Mooney to the tune of $13.55 million, The Hill’s Caroline Vakil reports. “The more West Virginia voters learn about Jim Justice, MITCH McCONNELL’s chosen candidate, the clearer it becomes that he is a big government RINO,” Club for Growth Action President DAVID McINTOSH said in a statement announcing the support.

CLICKER — “NASA releases spectacular image to celebrate James Webb Space Telescope,” by WaPo’s Joel Achenbach

Good Wednesday afternoon. Thanks for reading Playbook PM. Drop me a line: [email protected].


FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Montana Republican TIM SHEEHY is getting more early support from top Republicans as he embarks on a campaign to take down incumbent Dem Sen. JON TESTER. Sen. STEVE DAINES (R-Mont.), the chair of the NRSC, is the top-billed name on a high-dollar D.C. fundraiser for Sheehy set for next Tuesday, according to a copy of the invite obtained by Playbook. Daines is joined by 15 fellow Republican senators on the invite, a significant show of force for Sheehy as GOP leaders try to head off a primary challenge from Rep. MATT ROSENDALE (R-Mont.).

CHANGING TUNES — Republicans are doing an about-face on early voting, a tool that many in the party “have long vilified,” WaPo’s Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf write. Trump in the past has ripped early voting measures as “ballot harvesting,” and claimed without evidence that early voting results in rampant fraud. “But now, after disappointing election results in 2020 and 2022, Republicans close to Trump are seeking to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to build programs that would encourage some of the practices that the former president and other Republicans once decried.”

DEMOGRAPHIC DEEP DIVE — “Disabled Voters Were Evenly Split in 2016. Now the GOP Is Pushing Them Away,” by Bloomberg’s Ryan Teague Beckwith: “A poll from Greenberg Research just before Election Day in 2020 showed voters with disabilities in battleground states backed Biden over Trump, 60-35%. The same survey showed 62% of voters with disabilities disapproved of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak — 10 points higher than voters without disabilities. And the wave of Republican-spearheaded voter restrictions passed since 2020 has left voters with disabilities ‘really angry,’ said DOM KELLY, president and CEO of the nonpartisan advocacy group New Disabled South.”

OUTWIT, OUTPLAY, OUTLAST — “Former U.S. Attorney Nick Brown to run for WA AG,” by the Seattle Times’ Jim Brunner: “During his second year in law school, he was a contestant on the wildly popular TV reality show, ‘Survivor,’ competing in the Australian outback.”


YOWZA — “Senate Dems say ‘massive’ taxpayer privacy breach needs DOJ probe,” by Benjamin Guggenheim and Brian Faler: “Sens. ELIZABETH WARREN (Mass.), Finance Committee Chair RON WYDEN (D-Ore.) and others accuse H&R Block, TaxSlayer and TaxAct of having embedded code in their Web sites known as ‘pixels’ that allowed their users’ sensitive tax data to be shared with Meta — the parent company of Facebook —and Google.”

REVISIONIST HISTORY — “GOP Lawmaker Banned From Wikipedia for Self-Editing Spree,” by the Daily Beast’s Ursula Perano: Rep. MIKE LAWLER (R-N.Y.) “made 26 changes in total — which earned him a warning from site administrators that he was violating policy by editing his own content, and then an outright ban when Lawler did not heed the warning.”

WRAY IN THE HOT SEAT — “FBI Director Chris Wray defends agency amid onslaught of GOP criticism,” by WaPo’s Devlin Barrett


ONE TO WATCH THIS FALL — “How a Second Amendment case at the Supreme Court is putting gun rights groups in a jam,” by USA Today’s John Fritze


THE LOAN LURCH — Despite the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness setback at the Supreme Court, the White House still hopes that its “safety net” for borrowers can make an impact on the issue. “Starting this summer, millions of Americans with student loans will be able to enroll in a new repayment plan that offers some of the most lenient terms ever. Interest won’t pile up as long as borrowers make regular payments,” AP’s Collin Binkley writes. Critics of the plan call it a “backdoor attempt to make college free,” and it could wind up as the centerpiece of a big legal fight.

THE PATH OF KHAN — “Lina Khan Is Taking on the World’s Biggest Tech Companies — and Losing,” by WSJ’s Dave Michaels: FTC Chair LINA KHAN “failed Tuesday in her latest effort to block a big-tech deal when a federal judge denied her agency’s bid to block Microsoft from closing its purchase of videogame publisher Activision Blizzard. The FTC suffered a similar setback earlier this year when it tried to thwart Meta Platforms’ purchase of a virtual-reality gaming company. … Antitrust experts expect Khan to continue bringing tough cases because she wants courts to expand how they view competitive harm.”


THE LEGEND OF Z — “Zelenskyy puts brave face on lackluster NATO membership signal,” by Lili Bayer in Vilnius, Lithuania: “On Wednesday, rather than fixate on the terms under which the alliance would accept Ukraine once the war ends, Ukrainian President [VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY] praised Western capitals for offering Kyiv security assurances while insisting that the ultimate goal for Ukraine remains NATO accession.”

HACK JOB — “U.S. Government Emails Hacked in Suspected Chinese Espionage Campaign,” by WSJ’s Dustin Volz, Robert McMillan and Warren Strobel: “Hackers linked to China breached email accounts at more than two dozen organizations including some U.S. government agencies, officials and Microsoft researchers said, part of a suspected cyber-espionage campaign to access data in sensitive computer networks. The new penetration has prompted alarm among some officials and security researchers and is being viewed as part of an espionage campaign that potentially compromised valuable information belonging to the U.S. government, according to people familiar with the matter.”


GUNS IN AMERICA — “Teens buying ghost guns online, with deadly consequences,” by WaPo’s Tom Jackman and Emily Davies

CABLE CUTTERS — “AT&T And Verizon Knew About Toxic Lead Cables — And Did Little,” by WSJ’s Shalini Ramachandran, Thomas Gryta, Coulter Jones, Susan Pulliam and John West: “Risks include kidney issues, heart disease and reproductive problems in adults, according to U.S. health agencies. Yet the companies haven’t meaningfully acted on potential health risks to the surrounding communities or made efforts to monitor the cables, according to historical data, documents and interviews with former executives, safety managers and workers who handled lead.”

THE JOBS ANGLE — “The Energy Transition Is Underway. Fossil Fuel Workers Could Be Left Behind,” by NYT’s Madeleine Ngo: “The Biden administration is trying to increase renewable energy investments in distressed regions, but some are skeptical those measures would be enough to make up for job losses.”


OUT AND ABOUT — Sara Latham, a Clinton White House and HFA campaign alum who organized Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations last summer, was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order for her service to the Royal Family by King Charles III at Windsor Castle yesterday. SPOTTED at a celebration in London following the ceremony: Joel Johnson, Mary Morrison Alberg, Carolyn Wu, Adrienne Elrod, Sam Salk, Michael Schneider and Zelda LaGrange.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Amanda Rothschild is joining CRC Advisors. She most recently was senior policy director at the Vandenberg Coalition and is a Trump State Department, White House and NSC alum.

TRANSITIONS — Paige Herwig is now deputy general counsel for technology and economic growth at the Commerce Department. She most recently was special assistant to the president and senior counsel in the White House counsel’s office, where she led judicial nominations efforts. … Richard Carbo is now a principal in the public affairs practice at Cornerstone Government Affairs. He previously was a VP at S-3 Public Affairs and is a John Bel Edwards alum. …

… Jaime Cheshire is now executive director of the Afghanistan War Commission. She previously was executive secretary of the CIA. … Shannon Wheatman is now executive director of Signal Interactive Media, the mass tort and class action comms division of the Messina Group. She most recently was president of Kinsella Media.

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Send Playbookers tips to [email protected] or text us at 202-556-3307. Playbook couldn’t happen without our editor Mike DeBonis, deputy editor Zack Stanton and producers Setota Hailemariam and Bethany Irvine.

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