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May 30, 2013 12:06 PM Eye of the Beholder

By Ed Kilgore

So what should we make of the first quarter GDP numbers released by the Commerce Department today? The economic picture continues to depend on the eye of the beholder.

On the one hand, GDP growth was 2.4%, up sharply from the 4th quarter of 2012. On the other hand, it was slightly lower than predicted. Republicans will claim that the recovery is stalling thanks to business uncertainty/over-regulation/fears about Obamacare, etc., etc. Democrats will point out that reduced government spending (down 4.9% in the first quarter) tangibly and measurably reduced growth.

Polls indicate a steadily brightening public sense of where the economy’s going, and in the end, absent dramatic and universally apparent trends, public perceptions will govern the political impact of such economic data points. So much as we’d all like “objective” information confirming or rebutting those who spin economic indicators: as always, you can’t take the politics out of politics.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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