Americans spent money in the 4th quarter of 2013 at the fastest pace in three years, suggesting to some that economic growth is beginning to accelerate.
The government reported Friday that consumer spending rose 0.4 percent month-over-month in December. But personal income, was basically unchanged.
The personal savings rate fell to 3.9 percent of after-tax income in December reflecting its lowest level since last January. For the year, the savings rate slipped 4.5 percent, its worst performance since 2007.
Some analysts think the U.S. economy could expand by 3 percent this year. If realized, 2014 would be the best year for growth since the recession “officially” ended in 2009.
One factor supporting optimism is the belief that government will be less of a drag on the economy than in 2013, when higher federal taxes and spending cuts pared economic growth by an estimated 1.5 percent.
Congress approved a budget deal earlier this month restoring some of the reductions. And this week, a measure authorizing nearly a trillion dollars in federal spending on farm and nutrition programs also moved one step closer to becoming law.
“On this vote the yeas are 251 the nays are 166, the conference report is adopted.”
After years of drafts, amendments and delays, the near $1 trillion Farm Bill finally made it through the House of Representatives this week winning bipartisan support.
The legislation carries a price tag of $956.4 billion. The vast majority of the funds will be spent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. According to the Congressional Budget Office, some 79% or $756 billion will be spent on the federal nutrition assistance program formerly known as food stamps. Crop insurance spending is slated at $89.8 billion or 9.4% of the farm bill, conservation tallies $56 billion or 6%, commodity programs amount to $44.4 billion or 4.6% and everything else authorized by the farm bill will cost $8.2 billion.
The total cost to taxpayers, however, was reduced by $16.5 billion. Most of the cuts come from SNAP, with $8 billion or one percent being trimmed. That’s far below the original five percent cut proposed in an earlier house version of the bill.
Rep. Jim McGovern, D – Massachusetts: “The price of admission to passing a Farm Bill should not be more cuts to snap.”
Farm subsidy, commodity and conservation programs all were reduced, while spending on crop insurance was increased. That means the end of direct payments, in which farmers were paid to farm or not.
The American Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers and American Soybean Association all support the bill.
But the American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers and National Chicken Council objected to Country of Originating Labeling, or COOL. That mandate requires meatpackers to label where animals were born, raised and slaughtered.
House leaders supported the bill.
Rep. Frank Lucas, R – Oklahoma: “No matter how much money we spend on supplemental programs to make sure our fellow citizens have enough to eat, that’s important, never forget, if there’s not a product on the shelf, if there’s not meat in the case, not vegetables or fruit available, it doesn’t matter how much you subsidize.”