WASHINGTON - When millions of voters went to the polls in November to narrowly re-elect Barack Obama, the economy was rapidly shrinking toward recessionary levels.
In the last three months of 2012, the gross domestic product (GDP) -- the measurement of everything America produces -- fell to an annualized rate of 0.1 percent, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. This means the economy grew at a weak 2.2 percent rate for the entire year, little better than its feeble 1.8 percent growth rate the year before.
The Wall Street Journal, never one to mince words, said "U.S. economic momentum screeched to a halt."
But apparently millions of voters didn't know it or chose to ignore the handwriting on the wall that was there for all to see. In his campaign, Obama insisted the economy was "moving forward," that "we're making progress," and that the nation's economy was in recovery. His top advisers repeated the claim, as did his cheerleaders in the news media.
And millions of voters believed him. After all, there were few if any stories on the network nightly news shows about the nation's still severely high unemployment. Newspapers often referred to "the recovery," played up every downward tick in the jobless rate, even when the decline was largely due to long discouraged job seekers dropping out of the labor force. Twelve million plus Americans were officially out of work, and more than half of the jobs being created were low wage ones or only part-time employment.
Numerous business and independent economists were warning at the time that the Obama economy was slowing and were rapidly revising their fourth quarter growth rates to little more than 1 percent. But their estimates apparently fell on deaf ears.
Still, the Washington news media continued to cover for Obama whose four-year "economic recovery" record is the worst since the Great Depression.
The day before Wednesday's bleak report that the once mighty American economy was no longer growing, the Washington Post ran a story grudgingly acknowledging that the economy had "slowed" but was still in "a solid recovery."
Twenty four hours later, in its lead, front page story on the government's dreary GDP numbers, the Post retreated a bit, saying it now looks like "a modest recovery."
Excuse me? The economy's creating a relatively small number of jobs each month ( only 155,000 in December), nowhere near the 358,000 a month needed to pound the unemployment rate down to 6 percent.