TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: New job numbers out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics pegged unemployment at its lowest level in five years, but there's still a lot for both parties to fight over underneath the banner headline. Attention remains fixed on the developing budget deal expected to land early next week, but as schematics of the negotiations between Paul Ryan and Patty Murray emerge, so, too, does a palpable sense of discontent within the halls of Congress. House Republicans released administration emails today showing officials decided to delay parts of Obamacare long before they made the decision public. Thad Cochran decided he's got enough in him for one more Senate run after all, the nation continued to honor the memory of Nelson Mandela, and did Rick Santorum just compare Obamacare to apartheid?
ADMINISTRATION DECIDED ON SMALL-BUSINESS OBAMACARE DELAY IN AUGUST: Internal emails released by GOP House Energy and Commerce Committee members today show that officials at CMS determined in August that a delay was necessary for part of the new insurance marketplace for small businesses even as officials testified before Congress that the program would be ready on time. (Sam Baker, NJ)
UNEMPLOYMENT FALLS TO 5-YEAR LOW: New jobs numbers out today drop unemployment from 7.3 to 7 percent on the back of 203,000 added jobs last month. And there's more: Americans are working more hours and for slightly better wages, and the data indicate the poor effects of the October shutdown were truly temporary.
JOBS DATA MEAN FED MIGHT EASE STIMULUS EFFORTS: The encouraging jobs numbers could portend that the will-they-won't-they Federal Reserve is finally ready to begin tapering its monthly bond-buying program. We've heard this tune many times before, and as usual no one is willing to predict when exactly that might happen (maybe March?), but the rise in jobs across a wide swath of industries is the kind of thing the central bank likes to see. Some areas of the labor market continue to struggle, however: Unemployment for ages 16 to 19 is still above 20 percent, and a 10.8 percent jobless rate greets workers lacking a high school diploma. (Nelson Schwartz, NYT)
WHO CARES? WHY WE NEED MORE UNEMPLOYMENT: Explained in one short blog post, with a handy line graph. Republican talking points abound. (Binyamin Appelbaum, NYT)
DOES ANYONE LIKE THE PAUL/MURRAY BUDGET DEAL? As details continue to trickle out, both Democrats and Republicans are expressing varying levels of doubt, dismay, and agitation. Paul Ryan told conservative lawmakers Thursday that he expects a framework to be announced Tuesday, but added that if a deal isn't offered by then "we probably won't have a deal at all." (NJ)
SEN. THAD COCHRAN IS RETIRED NO MORE: The six-tem Southern gentleman from Mississippi will seek reelection after all in 2014, but he already faces a tea-party primary challenger in state Sen. Chris McDaniel. (Michael Catalini, NJ)
THE WEEK AHEAD IN ONE PARAGRAPH: President Obama and Michelle will travel to South Africa to honor Nelson Mandela and take part in memorial events. Hagel will travel to Bahrain and Qatar. The House is in session, and the Senate returns Monday with, admittedly, a lot of work to attend to:
"Well, I think starting first thing Monday morning we're just going to knock them all off—budget, Iran, you know, whatever." —Sen. Angus King, joking about the Senate's full plate when it returns next week. (h/t Sarah Mimms)
And the Senate is expected to vote Monday on the nomination of Patricia Millett to be U.S. circuit judge for the District of Columbia Circuit at 5:30 p.m.
WEATHER MADNESS: Today's weather map looks a like a tie-dye shirt. (Will Oremus, Slate)
RICK SANTORUM ON OBAMACARE: Santorum compares Obamacare to the "great injustices" fought by Nelson Mandela. (Philip Bump, The Wire)
NSA BRAIN HACK: If they could, would they? Should they? (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic)
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE? With two Ivy degrees and two tours of duty, Tom Cotton may be the man to win the Senate for the GOP. (Marin Cogan, NJ)
MANDELA'S MORAL COURAGE: "Never before in history was one human being so universally acknowledged in his lifetime as the embodiment of magnanimity and reconciliation as Nelson Mandela was." (Desmond Tutu, WaPo)
VATICAN AGENT OF CHANGE: Pope Francis is bringing compassion and flair to the Vatican, but will his style translate into real change in the church's doctrine and operations? (Alexander Stille, New Yorker)
LAST NIGHT'S LATE-NIGHT FUNNIES IN UNDER 3 MINUTES: Colbert says it's raining men in the GOP, but in this case, women don't like it. Blame the shortage of Egg McMuffins on workers demanding higher pay, not a sausage crop failure. (Reena Flores, NJ)
REINING IN THE NSA: Feinstein's FISA Improvements Act and Sensenbrenner's Freedom Act ostensibly aim to curtail sweeping surveillance programs, but neither fully addresses the government's massive collection of digital data. (NJ)