August 31, 2013

AP’s Raum: ‘Economy Is Being Eclipsed As Top Campaign Issue’; Lib Historian Brinkley: It ‘Looks Pretty Good’

If we’re to believe Tom Raum’s Friday afternoon report at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, the economy is humming along smoothly enough that we really shouldn’t think about it that much any more, especially as something to consider when voting. And besides, it’s being “eclipsed” by “other pressing events.”

I’ll stay away from those other “events” in the interest of concentrating on the 3-1/2 paragraphs Raum employed to convince readers that things really are okay, followed by a quote from a reliable leftist apparatchik (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

ECONOMY IS BEING ECLIPSED AS TOP CAMPAIGN ISSUE

While the unemployment rate of 7.4 percent is still well above the 5 to 6 percent typical of a healthy economy, it has been tracking down steadily since it peaked at 10 percent in late 2009. [1] House prices are on the rise and so is consumer spending. [2] Big banks are reporting strong profits again and regulators are winding down investigations into reckless Wall Street lending practices. [3]

U.S. exports are inching up and the budget deficit is inching down. After four years of trillion-dollar-plus shortfalls, the deficit this year is expected to come in at just over $600 billion. [4]

Many European countries are clawing their way out of recession. Even Greece, the poster child for a troubled economy, is managing a rare budget surplus. [5]

Obama has been making campaign-style speeches around the country [6] focusing on longer-term growth, education, housing affordability, infrastructure jobs and lifting the battered middle class. …

In recent months, the economy has looked “pretty good” for Obama, suggests Douglas Brinkley, [7] a presidential historian at Rice University. “Not home-run good, but there’s been incremental improvement in the economy.”

Notes:

[1] — Sure, the unemployment rate is all that matters. The fact that the jobs people have been getting this year are part-time and lower-paying is completely irrelevant, as is the fact that so many other potential workers are on the sidelines because the employment market is so weak. Oh, and I almost forgot that the average length of unemployment is still near its all-time high:

UnemploymentDurationTo0713

[2] — Consumer spending the second quarter made only a 1.21-point contribution to GDP growth, down from 1.54 points in the first quarter. Neither result is considered acceptable. Consumer spending advanced by only 0.1 percent in July.

[3] — Regulators are winding down investigations … and from all appearances, after all the leftist huffing and puffing in 2008 and 2009, no one will get indicted — and they’re in charge. Why, it’s enough to make you think that it’s all been a charade, and that in the end protecting campaign-contributing cronies was more important than justice, especially at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Odds are that this is exactly what has happened.

[4] — Oh joy, Oh rapture, the deficit will “only” be $600 billion-plus, “only” one-third higher than the last full-year budget deficit under Bush 43. Except it won’t be. The figure Raum is using appears to be the 10-month deficit through July, and assumes that the final two months will break even, which is highly doubtful. In early July, the Congressional Budget Office had a prediction of $759 billion.

[5] — Greece may have a budget surplus, but it’s also heading towards yet another bailout. I guess we’re supposed to be relieved that it will be “much smaller.”

[6] — Well, as long as President Obama is making those campaign-style trips, we’ve got nothing to worry about. (/sarc)

[7] — The economy only “looks pretty good” from Brinkley’s Washington bubble. In the rest of the country, we see mediocre growth, a part-time/temp-dominated job market, income which are recovering (unless you’re the average African-American household, in which your income is still falling) — and Obamacare’s wreckage looms.

Gosh, I read a report at some wire service yesterday whose narrative differed significantly from Raum’s. Oh yeah, it was in the Associated Press, via Martin Crutsinger, who managed to get in a false and gratuitious dig as he delivered the bad news (bold is mine):

U.S. consumers barely increased their spending in July as their income grew more slowly, held back in part by steep government spending cuts (Translation: This is all Republicans’ fault. — Ed.) that reduced federal workers’ salaries. The tepid gains suggest economic growth is off to a weak start in the July-September quarter.

The Commerce Department said Friday that consumer spending rose just 0.1 percent in July from the previous month. That’s slower than June’s 0.6 percent increase. Consumers cut their spending on long-lasting manufactured goods, such as cars and appliances. Spending on services was unchanged.

Income rose 0.1 percent in July following a 0.3 percent June gain. Overall wages and salaries tumbled $21.8 billion from June – a third of the decline came from forced furloughs of federal workers.

… “This is a disappointing report on a number of levels,” said James Marple, senior economist at TD Economics. “Prospects for a pickup in economic growth in the third quarter hinge on a broad-based acceleration in spending by households and business to offset the ongoing drag from government. The data for the first month of the quarter are not following this script.”

Several analysts said that economic growth is unlikely to match the 2.5 percent annual rate reported Thursday for the April-June quarter.

Apparently Crutsinger didn’t get the memo about the “eclipse.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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