It’s Lame Duck Season
Happy Thursday! McDonald’s announced this week that customers who purchase food on the company’s app in December will have a chance to win a fabled McGold Card, which grants its owner free McDonald’s for life.
It’s like the Lord of the Rings, updated for 21st century America.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- The European Union’s statistics agency reported Wednesday that the annual rate of inflation in the Eurozone fell month-over-month in November for the first time since June 2021, dropping from 10.6 percent to 10 percent. Many EU policymakers and economists see the deceleration as a temporary blip, however, and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said this week the ECB “still has a way to go” when it comes to raising interest rates. Federal Reserve President Jerome Powell took a more dovish stance in a speech on Wednesday, signaling the U.S. central bank would likely slow the pace of its rate hikes in December. Stocks surged after his remarks, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average finishing the day up 2.2 percent and S&P 500 up 3.1 percent.
- The U.S. labor market cooled somewhat last month, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting Wednesday there were 10.3 million job openings in the United States at the end of October—down from 10.7 million one month earlier. The quits rate—the percentage of workers who quit their job during the month—ticked down slightly from 2.7 percent in September to 2.6 percent last month, and the number of layoffs and discharges inched up from 1.3 million to 1.4 million. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported its updated estimate of third quarter real GDP on Wednesday, finding the economy grew at a slightly faster annual pace from July to September than previously thought (2.9 percent v. 2.6 percent).
- A fragile peace agreement between the main parties in Ethiopia’s civil war is reportedly being undermined by continued attacks on civilians by Eritrean troops. Eritrea, which sits just north of the Ethiopian region of Tigray, backed Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s central government in the two-year conflict with Tigrayan rebels.
- Chinese state media reported yesterday that Jiang Zemin—general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2002 and president of China from 1993 to 2003—died on Wednesday at the age of 96. Jiang came to power after the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square, and oversaw a number of market-oriented economic reforms that boosted China’s growth for decades.
- A spokesman for the Islamic State confirmed Wednesday that the terrorist group’s leader—Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi—was killed “while struggling against the enemies of God,” though he did not clarify who killed al-Qurayshi or where. (U.S. Central Command said yesterday the operation was carried out in mid-October by the Free Syrian Army.) al-Qurayshi—who was tapped for the role in March after his predecessor was killed in a U.S.-led raid—will reportedly be succeeded by Abu al-Husain al-Husaini al-Quraishi.
- House Democrats held their party leadership elections on Wednesday, unanimously elevating Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York to replace the outgoing Democratic leader, Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Reps. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Pete Aguilar of California were elected to serve as whip and caucus chair, respectively, and Rep. Ted Lieu of California will serve as vice caucus chair. The race for the fourth-ranking assistant leader position between Reps. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and David Cicilline of Rhode Island will take place today.
- House Republicans reportedly voted 158-52 in a closed-door meeting on Wednesday in favor of keeping earmarks for annual spending bills, allowing individual lawmakers to negotiate spending bills to include funding for pet projects in their home districts. House Republicans had done away with the process after the Tea Party wave in 2010, but their Democratic counterparts brought them back last year.
- Republican Sen. Mike Braun filed paperwork on Wednesday indicating he intends to run for governor of Indiana in 2024, when incumbent Gov. Eric Holcomb will be term-limited out. Braun—a former distribution company executive who was first elected to the Senate in 2018—confirmed the filing to Politico, and an adviser said an official campaign announcement will be coming “very soon.” His departure from the Senate will likely set off a fierce battle among a number of House Republicans from Indiana who have eyed the seat for years.
It’s Lame-Duck Season
It may be deer season elsewhere in the country, but in the nation’s Capital it’s duck season. Specifically, it’s the two-month period after voters have chosen a new Congress, but during which the previous one is still in power. Colloquially, it’s known as the “lame duck.”
For President Joe Biden, the lame duck session represents his last, best opportunity to pass some of his policy priorities before January ushers in divided government. Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives on January 3, and the incoming majority has already indicated it intends to keep the Biden administration busy responding to numerous investigations.