Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. The economy grew late last year at a rate that -- in normal times -- would suggest it's healthy. But to quote Bob Dylan: "The times... They are a' changin'..."
The Commerce Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy, as measured by Gross Domestic Product, expanded at an annual pace of 2.8 percent in the 4th quarter of 2011. That's its fastest rate of growth since the spring of 2010, but it's not enough to make a serious dent in unemployment figures.
Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, grew at a 2 percent annual rate in the 4th quarter... a modest improvement from the previous three-month period.
Earlier this week the government reported orders for big-ticket durable goods rose 3 percent last month, as a 19 percent increase in demand for commercial aircraft accompanied smaller gains in orders for autos and auto parts.
Excluding transportation, however, orders still rose more than 2 percent last month in that category's best showing since March. And business investment in core capital goods like computers rose nearly 3 percent in December to a record $68.9 billion.
Manufacturing has been key sector thus far in the economic recovery. And as he unveiled his "Blueprint for the economy" this week, President Obama called for more energy, manufactured goods -- and jobs -- to be "made in America..."
President Barack Obama: (State of the Union) “Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last -– an economy built on American manufacturing…"
Touting the creation of 3 million jobs over the last 22 months, Obama pushed what he calls a “Blueprint for America” that includes provisions to incentivize job creation by
-denying tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs...
--stopping the practice of avoiding taxes by sending money overseas...
-and giving tax breaks to production of goods in the United States including a special break for high-tech products.
Following his State of the Union address, the President took his show on a five-state road tour, where he called for tax reform to ensure more products and more jobs are “made in America.”
President Barack Obama: (Iowa) "But we've got to seize that opportunity. We've got to help these companies succeed. And it starts with changing our tax code. It starts with changing our tax code. (applause) Now, right now, companies get all kinds of tax breaks when they move jobs and profits overseas. Think about that. A company that chooses to stay in America gets hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. That's wrong. It doesn't make sense. We've got to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, reward companies like Conveyor that are doing business right here in the United States of America. (applause)
President Barack Obama: (Iowa) Folks don't have unrealistic ambitions. They do believe that if they work hard they should be able to achieve that small measure of an American Dream. That’s what this country is about. That's what you deserve. That's what we talked about during the campaign."
In addition to a manufacturing renaissance, the President’s vision also includes increased domestic energy production. While calling for the elimination of subsidies for oil companies, the President championed recent gains in U.S. energy self-sufficiency.
President Barrack Obama: (SOU) "And nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. (Applause.) Right now -- right now -- American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right -- eight years. Not only that -- last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years. (Applause.)"
In addition to fossil fuel, Obama wants to increase the use of alternative energy. His plan gives $5 billion in temporary tax incentives for solar and wind products with parts assembled by American workers. According to Administration officials, the multiplying effect would drive $20 billion in domestic manufacturing.
And with natural gas prices falling to ten-year lows last week, the Obama Administration believes the clean-burning fuel could support nearly 600,000 jobs.
President Barack Obama: (SOU)“The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy.”