AP's Raum Seems Puzzled That 'Economic Gains May Not Help Democrats Much in 2014'

You've got hand it to some (probably most) of the reporters at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press. Their story is that the economy is all right, and by gosh, they're sticking to it.

Tom Raum's dispatch yesterday is a case in point. Along the way, he pulled out several of the tired spin-driven claims which have long since been taken down but which haven't yet penetrated the skulls of low-information voters. Raum and AP seem puzzled that the supposedly okey-dokey economy doesn't seem to be helping President Obama or Democrats' 2014 congressional and senatorial election prospects (bolds and numbered tags are mine):


ECONOMIC GAINS MAY NOT HELP DEMOCRATS MUCH IN 2014

... He and his allies in Congress have "walked the economy back from the brink," his new 2014 federal budget blueprint asserts. And Democrats hope these improvements, while still slow and uneven, will give them at least a small boost in 2014's midterm races. [1]

That's a big order, considering:

-Presidential claims of responsibility for economic gains rarely win plaudits from voters, yet presidents nearly always get blamed when things get worse.

-The historical odds for midterm gains in Congress by the in-power party are slim at best. Since World War II, the president's party has lost an average of 26 seats in midterm elections and gained seats only twice - Democrats in 1998 under President Bill Clinton and Republicans in 2002 with George W. Bush in the Oval Office.

-Presidential elections are often referendums on the economy. That applies less often to midterms.

... The government reported Friday that economic growth accelerated to an annual rate of 2.5 percent from January through March, helped by the strongest consumer spending in more than two years.[2] But federal spending fell, and tax increases and Washington's budget cuts could slow growth later this year.

The report showed the economy was getting stronger after nearly stalling late last year, when it grew just 0.4 percent in the final three months of 2012.

... What steps can Obama rightfully claim that have helped spur economic improvement?

His $830 billion stimulus program of 2009, for one. [3] The White House also cites two other major emergency programs - the auto and financial industry bailouts. Both were started under President George W. Bush and expanded by Obama.

The White House suggests Obama's anti-recessionary programs helped nurture the creation of more than 6 million new jobs since the economy bottomed in 2010. [4]

Really, that's all I can stand. Raum rambles on for another 10 torturous paragraphs.

Notes:

[1] -- Here is how deep the White House has to scrape the bottom of the barrel to come up with something good to say about the economy, per Alan Krueger at its Council of Economic Advisers: "Real GDP is now 3.2 percent larger than it was at the previous business cycle peak in 2007:Q4." Over five years on, that is the worst economic recovery since World War II -- by miles.

[2] -- Here, Raum mimics AP Economics Writers Martin Crutsinger and Christopher Rugaber. Meanwhile, Reuters, Bloomberg, and even AP Markets Writer Steve Rothwell characterized the first-quarter result as "disappointing."

[3] -- They just won't let go of "the stimulus worked" mantra, will they? Here's a clue for Tom Raum, Crutsinger, Rugaber, and all the other AP apparatchiks. Every single flippin' recovery since World War II saw a far quicker and far more robust turnaround than the currect one. The current "recovery" is the only one during which massive amounts of stimulus were applied. The stimulus held back the recovery. Supposedly stimulative federal deficits and supposedly stimulative quantiative easing by the Fed are still holding back the economy.

[4] -- The "economy" didn't bottom out in 2010. It bottomed out when the recession officially ended in June 2009, the last month during a quarter in which the economy contracted. The job market bottomed out in February 2010 because the beloved stimulus program which was supposed to work wonders so quickly instead prolonged the job-market agony. The other forms of stimulus identified in the last item continue to hold back the job market.

It will be interesting to see how the drones at AP react if, as seems reasonably likely, economic reports durinng the next three days -- ADP's Employment Report, the Institute for Supply Management's Manufacuring and Non Manufacturing releases, and Friday's big enchilada Employment Situation Summary, among others -- come in at mediocre or worse, possibly far worse, results.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.