Slow Economic Growth, But Growth Nevertheless

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

( - So much for predictions that the U.S. is in a recession.

Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2008, according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis on Wednesday. In the fourth quarter of 2007, real GDP also increased 0.6 percent.

A recession is defined as a decline in GDP for two or more consecutive quarters.

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis emphasized that the first-quarter "advance" estimate is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision. A first-quarter "preliminary" estimate, based on more comprehensive data, will be released on May 29.

As President Bush said on Tuesday, definitions don't matter as much as people's perceptions do, and most people agree the economy is weakening. Cue the politicians:

"Today's report is another clear reminder of how critical it is for both parties to work together to address our nation's economic troubles," House Republican Leader John Boeher of Ohio said on Wednesday.

"While families are now beginning to receive tax rebate checks to help accelerate our economy and small businesses have been provided additional incentives to create new jobs, clear impediments to economic growth remain -- and Congress must deal with them."

Boehner listed "soaring gas prices" as the top concern of the American people, and he said Congress must address those concerns with "meaningful solutions."

For several weeks, Republicans have been pressing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reveal the Democrats' "commonsense plan" to lower gas prices. "All the Democratic Majority has offered is a recycled list of energy tax hikes and hollow legislative proposals that would either do nothing or, in some instances, actually make matters worse for American consumers," Boehner said.

"It's time for Speaker Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues to get serious about gas prices and work with Republicans to increase the supply of American-made energy to help lower prices here at home.

President Bush on Tuesday said Congress must open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to environmentally safe oil exploration -- and reduce regulatory burdens on oil refiners.

Republicans also are taking aim at the Democrats' multi-billion dollar tax hike plan, saying it's the biggest threat to economic growth.

"If we truly want to restore strong economic growth on behalf of American families and small businesses, both parties must stop this massive tax hike," Boehner said.

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