Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- The national news media have been in hyper-drive since President Obama's inauguration, trying to convince us that the U.S. economy is getting stronger.

The network news anchors dug up every half-baked statistic they could find to prove Obama's dismal economy was getting better. We now know it was all political hype to sustain their bogus claims.

The liberal Washington Post, one of the president's biggest media boosters, tried to put a hopeful face on the economy's mediocre numbers, but now admits what any long-term unemployed worker will tell you: This economy stinks.

"For the third year in a row, the nation's economic recovery seems to be petering out," the Post reluctantly reported in a front-page story Wednesday. "Hiring has dropped off. Shoppers are putting away their wallets ...

"That has fueled predictions of an abrupt slowdown over the next few months," the newspaper said. "Economists are forecasting tepid growth of just over 1 percent during the second quarter of the year."

In fact, the economy was in a slowdown well before this year. Economic growth (if you can call it that) plummeted to a pathetic 0.6 percent in the last three months of 2012, just when voters were rewarding Obama with a second term. But, then, the Post is a slow learner.

The bleak economic statistics over the past three weeks or so show an economy that remains in decline and one that isn't going to climb out of its slump anytime soon. And the president, after four painful years of economic failure, isn't doing anything about it.

The puny 88,000 jobs that were created last month were an embarrassment for an administration that was hoping for a figure of more than 200,000 -- a rate that in itself would still not be enough to bring the nearly 8 percent jobless rate down to more normal levels in the next few years.

Employers, fearing higher taxes, rising health care costs under Obamacare and a weakening economy, are either not hiring workers or employing more temporary workers.

More than 500,000 long-term unemployed workers told the Bureau of Labor Statistics in March that they had given up looking for a job. That meant, under BLS rules, they're not counted among the unemployed. So the jobless rate fell a notch.

Then came the decline in retail sales, the most in nine months, and the most dramatic evidence to date of a sharp slowdown in consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of our economy.

"Retail spending is now growing at its slowest pace since the end of the recession," said the Bloomberg news service.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.