- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 29, 2015

President Obama often raises the alarm about global warming, but his top economic adviser said Wednesday that an especially cold winter was to blame for slow growth in the U.S. in the first quarter.

“As measured by heating degree days, this quarter was the third coldest in twenty years,” said White House economic adviser Jason Furman. “Indeed, winter weather likely reduced both consumption and investment, contributing to this quarter’s below-trend output growth.”

The Bureau of Economic Analysis said first-quarter growth in gross domestic product contracted to an annual rate of 0.2 percent, far below projections and much slower than the previous three quarters.

Mr. Furman the first quarter “was only the fourth in 60 years on record with three or more snowstorms sufficiently severe to be rated by the National Climatic Data Center’s northeast snowfall impact scale.” He said the winter was “especially harsh” and may have lowered growth by a full percentage point.

The president’s top economic adviser even said first-quarter growth has been “especially weak in recent years,” a trend that he said “at least partially reflects generally worsening weather over the past decade.”

Some climate researchers say warmer ocean temperatures contribute to heavier snowfall totals, such as the Boston region experienced last winter.

Mr. Furman said the economic slowdown also resulted from declines in fixed investment, net exports and lower energy prices worldwide.

“Another major contributor to the slowdown was declining investment in mining exploration, shafts, and wells — likely reflecting the response to the sharp decline in oil prices — that subtracted more than half a percentage point from quarterly growth,” he said.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the disappointing economic performance is a reason to reject Hillary Rodham Clinton as the next president.

“Hillary Clinton embraces many of the same policies that are holding back the American economy,” Mr. Priebus said in a statement. “We must prevent Hillary Clinton from continuing the Obama-Clinton economic policies so we can put our country back on the road to prosperity.”

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