The 1st Quarter Decline in GDP: Cold Weather, Or Bad Policy?

This morning, as Steve noted, the Commerce Department revised its estimate of 1st quarter GDP to show a shocking 2.9% annualized decline. The White House tried to spin the awful numbers, arguing that the drop was largely accounted for by cold weather. (Does this mean that we should look forward to global warming as an economic boon?)

But Senator Jeff Sessions got much closer to the heart of the matter with this statement:

Growth last year was 1.9%—less than half of the White House predicted in 2009. And in 2012, the White House predicted growth this year would be 4.0%. But with a first quarter GDP contraction of -2.9% (a dramatic downward revision from initial estimates of positive 0.1% growth), the economy would need to average nearly 5% growth for the remainder of this year to hit that target.

The human consequences of almost six straight years of weak GDP figures are devastating: 7 million people have exited the workforce since the President took office. One in six men in their prime working years aren’t working. Workforce participation for women is at its lowest level in 23 years.

The American economy is the victim of a tragic collision with reality. We are living out the truth that no amount of political rhetoric, professional spin, or expedient demagoguery can create a single job, produce a dime of prosperity, or boost opportunity for a single working person.

Clearly, we need a new course: one that creates jobs without adding to the debt. Here’s how:

* Produce more American energy

* Make the tax code more globally competitive

* Eliminate all costly and unneeded regulations

* Turn the welfare office into a job training center

* Enforce our trade laws so our own workers can produce goods here in the USA

* Apply immigration policies that serves the national interest

* Balance the federal budget to restore economic confidence

The Obama administration views itself as an endless victim of bad luck. Somehow, everything seems to go wrong on its watch. The culprit here, supposedly, was a bitter winter. But consider this: Canada’s GDP increased in the first quarter at a 1.2% annualized rate. This was described as “an unexpectedly weak start to 2014, with unusually severe winter weather hampering spending across the board.” So it seems that something else–Obamacare, maybe, and the Obama administration’s regulatory attack on business–drove the U.S.’s terrible results.

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