The 114th Congress was just sworn in on Tuesday, but by Wednesday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gave it credit for last year’s positive economic data.
In a speech announcing the new Senate, which is now controlled by Republicans, he said, “After so many years of sluggish growth, we’re finally starting to see some economic data that can provide a glimmer of hope; the uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama Administration’s long tenure in Washington: the expectation of a new Republican Congress.”
There have been positive signs in the economy lately. The most recent GDP report showed 5 percent growth in the third quarter of last year and 4.6 percent growth in the second. That 5 percent growth rate was the fastest the economy had experienced since 2003. But it measured growth in July, August, and September, before the midterm elections in November that flipped the Senate to Republican control.
Meanwhile, GDP was boosted by something that may not be high on McConnell’s list of economic stimulus ideas: increased government spending. Federal spending rose 9.9 percent in the third quarter, one of the primary contributions to the increase in economic growth.
Jobs numbers have also been positive, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.8 percent at the end of last year. But that’s been a steady trend all year long: unemployment fell 1.2 percentage points over 2014 while there were an average of 224,000 jobs added a month.
In other parts of his speech, McConnell called for “a government that works” and an end the “era of government by crisis.” He said, “This November, the American people didn’t ask for a government that tries to do everything, and fails. And they didn’t demand a government that aims to do nothing, and succeeds.”