The U.S. economy grew at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the final three months of last year, the fastest growth in 2011.
Americans spent more on cars and trucks, and companies built up their stockpiles. But growth in the October-December quarter – and all of last year – was held back by the biggest annual government spending cuts in four decades.
Spending by government at all levels fell at an annual rate of 4.6 percent in the fourth quarter and 2.1 percent for the year – the biggest decline since 1971.
Key takeaways from this data? First, the economic recovery is slowly but surely gathering momentum, as we dig our way out of the Bush/Republican Great Recession, thanks in large part to policies put in place by President Obama and the 2009-2010 Democratic Congress. To them, we should all say, “thank you!” Second, the recovery was held back by one factor above all — the Teapublicans’ insistence on damaging, de-stimulatory policies, particularly cutbacks in state and federal employment. Thanks a lot. Third, the economic recover would have been even faster if Teapublicans hadn’t played games this past summer with the debt ceiling, thus massively increasing the very “uncertainty” they decry; and if they had allowed for more (and better) economic stimulus, and not insisted on damaging, short-term austerity policies (when the opposite is called for, according to every Econ 101 textbook).
In sum, to the extent that the economy’s recovering thanks to government policies, it’s mostly thanks to President Obama and the Democrats, with Republicans not just a neutral factor but actually a significant negative factor. The question is, why would anyone in their right mind vote for these people to send us lurching backwards, just as we’re finally pulling ourselves out of the ditch they drove us into?