May 21, 2017

Behind-the-scenes on the debt ceiling

Evan Vucci / AP

Last Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin met with Republican leaders from the House and Senate, including Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.

  • What everyone can agree on: Two sources with direct knowledge of the meeting tell me Mnuchin made it clear he wants the debt ceiling to be raised ahead of any "deadline," as early as before the August recess. (It's no secret that Mnuchin views the debt ceiling as non-negotiable and doesn't want it used as a negotiating tool.)
  • Where the accounts differ: One source told me, "it's not like people laughed when he said before the August recess but the mood was clear that this wasn't something that was ever going to happen." But a source close to Mnuchin says the Secretary heard no rejection of that pre-August timeline and considers it "a viable option."
  • Current timing: Treasury believes it can keep using emergency cash saving measures to avoid breaking the borrowing limit until the early fall.

Go deeper

Unemployment rate falls to 13.3% in May

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, with 2.5 million jobs gained, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The far better-than-expected numbers show a surprising improvement in the job market, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The difficulty of calculating the real unemployment rate

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Note: Initial traditional state claims from the weeks of May 23 and 30, continuing traditional claims from May 23. Initial PUA claims from May 16, 23, and 30, continuing PUA and other programs from May 16; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The shocking May jobs report — with a decline in the unemployment rate to 13.3% and more than 2 million jobs added — destroyed expectations of a much worse economic picture.

Why it matters: Traditional economic reports have failed to keep up with the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and have made it nearly impossible for researchers to determine the state of the U.S. labor market or the economy.

2 hours ago - Sports

How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The NBA's Board of Governors approved Thursday the league's 22-team plan to resume play at Walt Disney World — a plan that also includes tentative dates for both this season and next.

Why it matters: The league's proposed trip to Disney World not only impacts this season but could have a domino effect that impacts seasons in the future — and could permanently change what time of year the NBA plays its games.