You might not have noticed, given the lack of attention paid by most of the media, but the great Obama economic boom came to an end last week.
After all the gloating that followed the relatively robust 5 percent growth in gross domestic product in the third quarter the fourth quarter numbers came in at at a disappointing 2.6 percent, and when you add in the negative first quarter that was blamed on cold weather and the increased Obamacare spending that was actually a drag on the economy but was counted as a boon and transferred to that reputedly roaring third quarter, along with the lukewarm rest of the year, it all comes out to a mere 2.4 percent growth for the year. It’s not recessionary like the last months of the Bush administration, but nothing to brag about, despite all the bragging that the president and a few of our more liberal Facebook friends were doing after that 5 percent figure hit the news, which probably explains why so little attention has been paid by the media.
The occasional stories that have appeared take care to quote economists who predict the coming year will at last achieve that elusive 3 percent GDP increase, which was considered treading water during past Republican administrations but is now regarded as a miracle on par with a Soviet five-year plan, and they tend to point out that 2.6 percent growth would be considered a godsend in Europe and offer the excuse of China’s slowing growth, but we doubt it will convince anyone that America’s economy is roaring along. Nor do we expect that the Democrats who have long championed European and Chinese style governance will reap much political benefit from the uptick, which can more plausibly explained by the oil boom that the administration has resisted, a point that will be unavoidably highlighted after Obama’s expected veto of an expected bill that would hasten construction of the XL Keystone pipe, and to Republican restraints on governmental control of the economy in general.
The president will continue to insist that his policies of higher taxes on the wealthy and increased government spending for the rest have delivered that tantalizing 2.6 percent growth rate, and will surely surge past that elusive 3 percent figure this year, and much of the media will be eager to reiterate the message. Anyone old enough to recall the 7 percent figures of the Reagan years will be skeptical, though, and even the youngsters will wonder why the country isn’t doing better. As much as we hate to bad-mouth the American economy, even during a Democratic administration, we don’t expect that Hillary Clinton or anyone else the Democrats might put up will be able to run on the party’s economic record even in the far-off year of ’16.
— Bud Norman