Our economy is going nowhere fast.
The Federal Reserve knows it. President Donald Trump? Not so much. At least he's not been admitting it.
Back in December, most members of the Fed agreed that it would probably be boosting interest rates in 2019, from perhaps just once to as many as three times. In a statement released at the end of its two-day gathering on Wednesday -- at which it left rates unchanged again -- 11 of the 17 members of the Fed's rate-setting committee said they expected not a single increase through the rest of this year. That's as sure a sign of a stagnating economy as even the most inveterate pessimist could want.
Also, and even more ominously, the Fed reduced its projection of annual economic growth to 2.1 percent from the less-than-sterling 2.3 percent it had forecast in December. It sees even darker days in 2020, with annual growth expected to be a mere 1.9 percent next year.
Forecasts from the White House, not surprisingly, see sunnier days ahead, with the Trump administration predicting growth of 3.2 percent in the current year. In their dreams, as the kids used to say.
Though the administration and its Republican allies in Congress can take some credit for having fueled a bit of an economic bump with a spate of deregulation and their 2017 tax cut, the effects of both were, as many had predicted, quite short-lived.
Consider this: Should the Fed's current forecast of 2.1 percent growth turn out to be more or less on target, growth would be fully a half-percentage point below the 2.6 percent achieved by President Barack Obama's administration in 2015.
A question for our current president and congressional Republicans who pushed through their budget-busting $1.5 trillion tax cut that mostly benefitted corporations and those who were already well-heeled: Got any other tricks up your sleeve, or was that it?
Their only answer, if they are being truthful: That's all she wrote.
Trump frequently disparaged the economic recovery during the Obama years, pointing specifically to lackluster growth. In fact, if one compares growth in a specific quarter to that same quarter a year prior, Obama twice saw increases of more than 3 percent. Comparing the third quarter of 2010 to that same period a year earlier finds growth of 3.1 percent. From the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015, the economy fared even better, with growth clocking in at 3.3 percent.
And this, of course, was as the nation was recovering from the depths of the Great Recession, the deepest and most prolonged economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Obama inherited an economy that had been severely wounded and had to work to set things right. Trump, with his trade wars, his fights with our allies, his tariffs, his constant unpredictability, not only has things headed in the wrong direction, but also has put our nation on a dangerous course.
(c)2019 The Republican, Springfield, Mass. www.masslive.com.
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