Obama WH Blames Republicans for Weak Economic Growth

By Susan Jones | April 29, 2016 | 5:42 AM EDT

White House spokesman Josh Earnest blames Republicans for weak economic growth in the first quarter of 2016. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Reacting to a report of weak economic growth in the first quarter of 2016, the Obama White House blamed Republicans.

"The president has spent years making the case to Republicans in Congress that there is more that could be done that would strengthen our economy, expand economic opportunity for the middle class and lay a foundation for our nation's long-term strength for the decades ahead," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Thursday.

"And that includes investment in infrastructure. You know, the president is quoted in a story today talking about how, frankly, the Untied States missed an opportunity over the last couple of years to make critical investments in infrastructure while interest rates were low, while the construction sector was not as strong as it previously was. And it's unfortunate that years have gone by where that opportunity has been missed."

Earnest said the reason for the missed opportunity "was because of Republicans' stubborn refusal to consider any priority that President Obama has identified."

Obama's spokesman also mentioned Republicans' failure to raise the minimum wage, which "certainly would bring more fairness to our economy" amd help grow it "from the middle out."

As CNSNews.com reported on Thursday, the United States has started 2016 with a record tenth-straight first quarter in which real GDP grew at an annual rate of less than 3 percent, according to the “advance” estimate of first quarter GDP published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The BEA’s advance estimate of real GDP for the first quarter of 2016 showed real GDP growing at an annual rate of 0.5 percent.

"Are you saying that the growth rate as it stood in the first quarter is an indirect result of Republicans failing to go along with infrastructure, increased spending for infrastructure, minimum wage increases?" a reporter asked Earnest.

"There is no denying that there are a wide variety of economic indicators that would be stronger if Republicans in Congress had seized the initiative three or four years ago and made a critical investment in our infrastructure," Earnest replied.

"So I would hesitate to draw a line between one spending proposal and one economic indicator, but there's no denying that the longer-term trends would be even better than they already are if Republicans had followed the president's advice.

"Fortunately, there are some things that we were able to do without strong Republican support, things like the Recovery Act and the Affordable Care Act and Wall Street reform, all of which did have positive benefits for our economy that we continue to enjoy. The vast majority -- those things were passed even though the vast majority Republicans who were in office at the time opposed them.

"And you know, we continue to look for additional ways to strengthen our economy, even in the face of unprecedented Republican obstruction in Congress."

Earnest pointed to other economic indicators that the Obama administration feels good about, including jobs:

"Obviously the numbers that we're most attuned to are the jobs numbers and, you know, the U.S. economy is currently on the longest streak of private-sector job growth in our nations history. 73 consecutive months for a total of 14.4 million private-sector jobs. That's a -- that's a remarkable streak and demonstrates the resilience of the U.S. economy."

As CNSNews.com has previously reported, the unemployment number is low, but so is the labor force participation rate.

93,688,000 Americans were not in the labor force last month, and only 62.9 percent of the civilian noninstitutional population either held a job or actively sought one during the month of March.

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