The economy has gone off the rails, an entirely predictable course given Barack Obama’s Marxist economic policies, his unprecedented spending, constant tax increases and the indisputably intended impact of Obamacare. (See Cloward-Pivens Strategy)
For the first time in three years, the American economy contracted over the course of a quarter. In the interim report on GDP, the BEA estimates that the US economy shrunk by a full point in 2014 Q1, a downward revision of the advance estimate of 0.1% growth:
Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — decreased at an annual rate of 1.0 percent in the first quarter according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 2.6 percent.
The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “advance” estimate issued last month. In the advance estimate, real GDP was estimated to have increased 0.1 percent. With this second estimate for the first quarter, the decline in private inventory investment was larger than previously estimated (see “Revisions” on page 3).
The decrease in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected negative contributions from private inventory investment, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by a positive contribution from personal consumption expenditures. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.
Don’t blame federal budget cuts for this contraction, or the weather either. Federal government spending rose 0.7% after dropping 12.8% in Q4, although state government spending fell by 1.8%. Exports fell by 6.0%, a sharp drop in any sense and a remarkable reversal from +9.5% in Q4, and real non-residential fixed investment dropped 1.6%.
Not all of the news was bad, though. Real personal consumption expenditures (consumer spending) rose 3.1% in Q1, almost the same level as in Q4 (3.3%). The real final sales of domestic product, which are sales to end-user consumers, rose 0.6% — much lower than Q4′s 2.7%, but still positive. However, growth in real gross domestic purchases was entirely flat (0.0%) after a stagnation reading in Q4 of 1.6%.
What ever happened to “Yes we can” and “We are the people we have been waiting for” Apparently the answer to that is, “oh no you can’t” and “Theirs a sucker born every minute and we’re here to take you for a ride sucker’s”… So, given the dismal if not unexpected economic news, and the VA scandal, one could be forgiven if they expected Obama, the smartest man in the room and worlds greatest orator to go out and give a epic speech filled with the most amazingly soaring rhetoric, right?
Actually, all of those adjectives come from the New York Times — and that’s the most sympathetic take on Barack Obama’s big pivot/comeback speech on foreign policy. The West Point address accomplished a rarity in media and politics by creating a consensus between the editorial boards of the NYT, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. That consensus, however, is that Obama flopped in his straw-man approach to criticism and his utter incoherence on American policy. When a President can’t convince one of these three on policy, it may be time to find a new approach — or perhaps a new team (via AoSHQ).
The open from the NYT hints at what’s coming:
President Obama and his aides heralded his commencement speech at the United States Military Academy at West Point on Wednesday as a big moment, when he would lay out his foreign policy vision for the remainder of his term and refute his critics. The address did not match the hype, was largely uninspiring, lacked strategic sweep and is unlikely to quiet his detractors, on the right or the left.
Yes, that’s the most sympathetic read. The NYT editorial turns harsh toward the end:
[H]e provided little new insight into how he plans to lead in the next two years, and many still doubt that he fully appreciates the leverage the United States has even in a changing world. Falling back on hackneyed phrases like America is the “indispensable nation” told us little.
The president said he wanted to spend $5 billion to train and support armies in places like Libya, Mali, Yemen and Somalia to combat terrorists. The aim is to avoid having to use American troops, and, in theory, it makes sense. But the United States has a checkered history in such endeavors, and Mr. Obama made only a cursory mention of other factors crucial to success, including responsible governance and education for all. It was disturbing to hear him gloss over the return of military rule in Egypt.
Mr. Obama’s talk of the need for more transparency about drone strikes and intelligence gathering, including abusive surveillance practices, was ludicrous. His administration had to be dragged into even minimal disclosures on both topics. Just Tuesday, the administration said it wanted to make further deletions from a legal memo on drone strikes that a court ordered it to make public.
The Washington Post’s editors could hardly contain their scorn for the army of straw men Obama attempted to battle:
In his address Wednesday to the graduating cadets at West Point , Mr. Obama marshaled a virtual corps of straw men, dismissing those who “say that every problem has a military solution,” who “think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak,” who favor putting “American troops into the middle of [Syria’s] increasingly sectarian civil war,” who propose “invading every country that harbors terrorist networks” and who think that “working through international institutions . . . or respecting international law is a sign of weakness.”
Few, if any, of those who question the president’s record hold such views. Instead, they are asking why an arbitrary date should be set for withdrawing all forces from Afghanistan, especially given the baleful results of the “zero option” in Iraq. They are suggesting that military steps short of the deployment of U.S. ground troops could stop the murderous air and chemical attacks by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. They are arguing that the United States should not be constrained by Cyprus or Bulgaria in responding to Russia’s invasion and annexation of parts of Ukraine.
To those doubters, the president’s address offered scant comfort. Reiterating and further tightening a doctrine he laid out in a speech to the United Nations last fall, Mr. Obama said the United States should act unilaterally only in defense of a narrow set of “core interests,” such as the free flow of trade. When “crises arise that stir our conscience or push the world in a more dangerous direction,” he said, “we should not go it alone.”
This binding of U.S. power places Mr. Obama at odds with every U.S. president since World War II. In effect, he ruled out interventions to stop genocide or reverse aggression absent a direct threat to the U.S. homeland or a multilateral initiative. Those terms would exclude missions by previous administrations in places such as Somalia and Haiti and Mr. Obama’s own proposal to strike Syria last year — but not the war in Iraq, which was a multilateral campaign.
Well, apparently, it was EPIC in at least one sense, it was the most epic assault on strawmen in living memory given by an American President.