U.S. Sec. of Labor Hilda Solis defended Friday's monthly jobs report as viewed over the long-term, but also called for more collaboration in Washington to fix the economy—sounding a lot like President Obama earlier Friday.
"When you look back, when the president started we lost 8.5 million jobs," she told Andrea Mitchell during a Friday appearance on MSNBC. "Now we’re up to—in a 28-month period—4.4 million private sector jobs. Even though this number could have been better, we know we’re working every single day."
Mitchell pressed Solis to explain the political implication of the jobs report, described as weak by most accounts.
"Right now, you’ve got, let’s face it, a political problem," Mitchell said. "The persistent high unemployment in the Democratic base is a problem: 11% unemployment for Hispanics; 14% for African-Americans; nearly 24% for teenagers and you’ve got all these young people who you need to inspire."
Solis argued that more compromise and cooperation are necessary in Washington in order to make an impact. She pointed to the recent bipartisan agreement to pass the transportation bill, which included a measure to stop student loan interest rates from rising, as an example of success.
"That’s what the public wants to see," she said. "What needs to happen is people need to understand what we can control…We can get things done here if we have cooperation. We saw some signs of it I think last week. Yes, we need to do more, absolutely, but let’s have some cooperation and let’s work together."
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended his proposal to ban the serving of sugary drinks that exceed 16 ounces in the city’s restaurants, sports venues, and movie theaters, on Andrea Mitchell Reports today.
“There’s an epidemic in this country of people being overweight,” the mayor said. “It’s not perfect, it’s not the only answer, it’s not the only cause of people being overweight, but we’ve got to do something. We have an obligation to warn you when things aren’t good for your health.”
More than half of New York City’s adults are overweight, including 22% that are obese, according to the city.
The ban would not affect diet drinks, fruit juices, dairy-based beverages, or alcohol; nor would it impact what is sold in grocery or convenience stores. Bloomberg also stressed the fact that consumers can make the choice to purchase two cups of such a beverage to circumvent the limit.
“We’re not taking away anyone’s right to do things,” he told Mitchell. “We’re simply forcing you to understand you have to go from one cup to another cup.”
The New York City Beverage Association opposes the proposal, which the city health department will vote on next month.
Update: The New York Beverage Association wrote the Lean Forward and Morning Joe blog with their counter-arguments, saying "The city is not going to address the obesity issue by attacking soda because soda is not driving the obesity rates."
*** UPDATED AT 2 PM ET WITH POWELL'S INTERVIEW WITH NBC'S ANDREA MITCHELL ***
One of the GOP's foreign-policy heavyweights, Colin Powell, took Mitt Romney to task for calling Russia the United States' "No. 1 geopolitical foe."
“Come on, Mitt, think. That isn’t the case," Powell, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on MSNBC's Morning Joe this morning.
Powell added, "He’s been catching a lot of heck from the more regular GOP foreign affairs community. We’re kind of taken aback by it. How can you--? Come on. Look at the world. There is no pure competitor to the United States of America.”
He also called some of Romney’s advisers “quite far to the right.”
Though he was tasked with making the case for war in Iraq before the United Nations, it's no secret that Powell, who was George W. Bush's secretary of state, is no fan of the Cheney-Rumsfeld neo-conservative foreign-policy wing of the Republican Party.
Powell, who is doing media interviews promoting his book, endorsed President Obama in 2008. While he has declined to say who he would vote for this time around, he gave a large measure of credit to President Obama yesterday on the Today show on domestic policy, crediting him with pulling the country back from the financial brink and rescuing the auto industry.
His only gripe with Obama was from the left -- that he failed to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
*** UPDATE *** On MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports this afternoon, Powell warned Romney against hyperbole on foreign policy, from Russia to Iran.
“I think he needs to not just accept these cataclysmic pronouncements,” Powell said. “He needs to really think carefully about these [statements].”
Powell said Russia had the GDP of a mid-size European country and noted that Russia and China “need to have a good relationship with us.”
He added, “Let’s not go creating enemies where none need exist… let’s not hyperbolize the situation.”
Powell also advocated talking to Iran, played down the notion that Iran was close to developing a nuclear weapon, and suggested it was possible to allow Iran to produce nuclear power and stop them from going further to create a weapon.
“I don’t know what Mr. Romney would prefer to do” as it relates to Iran, Powell said, noting that there weren’t many alternatives to talking to them. Powell warned that there couldn’t be “lofty expectations” in talks with Iran and that it couldn’t be trusted, but stressed, “They’re totally isolated.”
Though he has largely said positive things about Obama on his book tour, Powell, who now makes money in private equity, defended the industry.
There’s “nothing evil about private equity,” he said. “They miss a lot of their bets. Sometimes they kill of companies that need to be killed off.”