The White House on Wednesday tried to minimize the country's sluggish economic growth in the first three months of 2015, attempting to focus on long-term gains increasingly trumpeted by President Obama rather than the weakest quarter in a year.
Earlier Wednesday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that gross domestic product grew at a rate of just 0.2 percent between January and March, well short of expectations.
"When we get this kind of data, the thing that we are quick to review are the longer-term trends and what impact the immediate data has in the context of the broader trend," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. "Even incorporating this latest data, the GDP has grown by 3 percent over the past year. That does reflect the kind of economic strength that we see across a range of other economic metrics."
The White House is attempting to argue that the latest economic data is a blip and not than indicative of a long-term economic slowdown.
"Our economy continues to have some important momentum," Earnest said, acknowledging "headwinds" during recent months, including a lacking demand for American goods overseas as the dollar strengthens.
Earnest used the economic data to highlight Obama's attempts to push through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade pact among 12 Pacific Rim nations. Democrats are particularly wary of the trade deal and have balked at attempts to give the president so-called fast track authority to finalize the arrangement.
White House officials put much of the blame for the GDP report on a particularly harsh winter.
"This 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," said Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. "In addition, as measured by heating degree days, this quarter was the third coldest in 20 years. Indeed, winter weather likely reduced both consumption and investment, contributing to this quarter's below-trend output growth."
Republicans counter that the findings were proof that the White House had oversold the extent of recent economic growth.
"Today's number represents a disappointing trend of uneven growth in our nation's economy," said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. "In the absence of steady recovery, too many Americans continue to struggle in Obama's economy."