Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - The Obama economy nearly stopped breathing in the first quarter, giving the Republicans new political ammunition for a full takeover of Congress in the November elections.

No sooner did the Commerce Department announce that the economy barely grew by one-tenth of one percent in the first three months of this year, than the news media was searching for the toughest words to describe the U.S. economy's demise under President Obama's anti- growth, anti-job policies.

"U.S. Economic Growth Slows to a Crawl," was the way the Reuters news agency put it Wednesday, and even that was being generous. Some said the economy "stalled," or "barely grew" or "hit a wall." Others called the 0.1 percent growth rate "anemic," a word that doesn't do justice to an economy that has all but ground to a halt.

But after one excuse after another for the president's economic failures, some in the news media weren't pulling their punches. Here's the way the Wall Street Journal put it:

"U.S growth nearly stalled in the first three months of the year, fresh evidence that the economic expansion that began almost five years ago remains the weakest in modern history."

"U.S. economic growth stalled to near zero," the Journal said on its website, minutes after the government announced its shocking number.

Even the liberal New York Times, one of the Democrats' biggest apologists, pointed out that the economy's failing grade was actually a continuation of what Americans have been experiencing ever since Obama's first year in office, without any sustained improvement.

"For all the attention devoted to the quarterly fluctuations, the current underlying rate of expansion is not much different from the frustratingly slow trajectory in place ever since the economy began to recover from the Great Recession," the Times said.

"The average quarterly rate of growth since the summer of 2009 stands at 2.2 percent," the newspaper noted, a pathetic, sub-par rate of growth for the largest and once strongest economy on the planet.

The White House was still peddling their belief that the economy would soon pick up in the second quarter and that the slowdown was the result of a harsh winter.

But wiser economists aren't buying the administration's excuses.

Dan North, the chief economist at Euler Hermes North America, a large insurer, told the Times that even if the growth rate picks up in the second quarter, "the annual growth rate in 2014 will most likely still be below the post-World War II average of just over 3 percent."

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.