TRENTON – As numerous government, business and non-profit entities are howling over proposed cuts in the upcoming state budget, Gov. Phil Murphy is busy promoting his “baby bonds” program. It sounds kinda off-message to hype a program that would hand out a $1,000 savings bond for each baby born to “qualifying families,” just as numerous line items of worthy programs are getting axed from the upcoming state budget. Murphy claims his baby bond program would cut down on income inequality gaps and racial disparities. Just like the School-based Youth Services Programs (SBYSP), facing elimination with Murphy’s $14 million cut to fund other important, must-have stuff, like his baby bonds program.

TRENTON – Unclear why President Trump would ever agree to 18 on-the-record interviews with legendary reporter Bob Woodward, famously known for taking down a similar president who attended the Roger Stone School of Obfuscation. Reading this morning’s blistering headlines, we all now know that talking to Woodward wasn’t the best PR strategy for Trump, now being walloped for downplaying the pandemic and lying to the nation. Gov. Phil Murphy was eager to join the pile-on, appearing on CNN to blame Trump for knowingly costing lives. If we had all the facts earlier, Murphy says, New Jersey could have clamped down earlier. #MAGA.

TRENTON – What can be scarier than having your kids home for six straight months? Apparently, Halloween, with Gov. Phil Murphy saying the holiday will continue in New Jersey, no matter what. There will be ghosts, goblins and even trick-or-treating, but don’t expect business as usual, with safety protocols being developed to keep everyone safe. (i.e., don’t you dare dunk for an apple!)  Silver lining: No one can complain, finally, about wearing a mask.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

The oldest “your mom” joke was discovered on a 3,500-year-old Babylonian tablet.

TRENTON – The state gas tax is jumping nearly 10 cents per gallon next month. State officials shrug their shoulders; not much they can do about it. NJ Spotlight reports the tax increase is baked into a 2016 law that ties it to gas consumption and some tricky math that only the folks at the treasury can perhaps understand. Let’s simplify: Less people are driving because of the pandemic.  So, the tax goes up and no politician can be blamed. Seems perfect, except for New Jersey drivers, who will definitely feel the bump at the pump. Those who are outraged can always run out and buy a bicycle – if they could. The pandemic has put them in short supply. 

STATEWIDE – Just when we thought the 11 JCPenney stores left in New Jersey would be wiped off the map – thrown in the same dust heap as Alexanders, Bradlees, Two Guys and A&S – it looks as if the 650-store chain is getting thrown a lifeline. All assumed the 96-year-old department store – an anchor at a near-empty mall near you – was taking its last gasp, drowning in billions of dollars of debt. But CNBC now reports of a $800 million lifeline that would yank JCPenney out of bankruptcy, saving 70,000 jobs, and avoid a mass liquidation of stuff you had no interest in buying in the first place.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

NORTH YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND – A missing 80-year-old hiker certainly knew how to make some news, appearing at a police press conference that sought the public’s help following his disappearance in a hailstorm. The man was reported missing Sunday afternoon when he was separated from his hiking partner. That prompted a massive, four-day search on foot in the mountains and in the air. The search was quickly called off yesterday when the hiker sauntered into a pub, where the press conference just happened to be held. Eyes widened and mikes dropped, as the hiker told police and all enthralled onlookers about his harrowing ordeal out in the wild. The octogenarian seemed ok; just a bit hungry. Hey, perhaps someone can pass over a menu?

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2015 that scientists discovered a cache of skeletons of a new species of human ancestor, named Homo naledi, in a South African cave. The hominids are thought to have lived up to three million years ago – and are rumored to have actually seen the front of the line at a New Jersey MVC office.

WORD OF THE DAY

Plaudit – [PLAW-dit] – noun

Definition: An act or round of applause

Example: Please begin to prepare your plaudits as we near the conclusion of another Jaffe Briefing.

WIT OF THE DAY

“I feel pleased to have formed good ties with such a powerful and preeminent statesman.”

- Kim Jong Un

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“I met. Big fucking deal.”

-Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Soaker