President Joe Biden and some of his top administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, have spent recent days attempting damage control ahead of what could be another negative economic report.

In particular, officials are stressing to the public that though the coming report will likely show that gross domestic product shrank for the second consecutive quarter, the United States is not really entering a recession. Officials say prolonged COVID-19 factors, coupled with the war in Ukraine , have muddied economic projections and claim that assessing the speed of the post-pandemic economic recovery means examining a variety of economic signals, not just total GDP.

“We’re not going to be in a recession, in my view,” Biden himself told reporters Monday. “The unemployment rate is still one of the lowest we’ve had in history. It’s in the 3.6 area. We still find ourselves with people investing. My hope is we go from this rapid growth to a steady growth, and so we’ll see some coming down, but I don’t think we’re going to, God willing. I don’t think we’re going to see a recession.”

Deese said in multiple interviews on Monday that the country has never experienced a recession without massive, nationwide job loss. The president has frequently pointed to the millions of jobs created since he entered office in January 2021 as a sign of U.S. economic strength, even in the face of historic inflation and worsening public sentiment.

“Never in the history of our country have we had a recession where the economy was creating jobs, period, let alone creating 400,000 jobs,” Deese told CNN. “Certainly, in terms of the technical definition, it’s not a recession. The technical definition considers a much broader spectrum of data points. But in practical terms, what matters to American people is whether they have a little economic breathing room, they have more job opportunities, their wages are going up — that has been Joe Biden’s focus since coming into office.”

“We face an economy with very significant global challenges,” Deese added to Bloomberg. “Our focus is on what we can do on policy to try to address those challenges — and how to then try to increase the prospects that we can move through the process, this period of uncertainty, to a period of more stable, steady growth.”

Yellen stated during a Sunday morning interview on NBC that despite the coming GDP report, a recession is still not guaranteed.

“We’re in a period of transition in which growth is slowing, and that’s necessary and appropriate,” she stated. “I’m not saying that we will definitely avoid a recession, but I think there is a path that keeps the labor market strong and brings inflation down.”

Furthermore, the White House Council of Economic Advisers published a blog post over the weekend specifically rebutting the definition of a “technical” recession.

“The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Business Cycle Dating Committee — the official recession scorekeeper — defines a recession as ‘a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and that lasts more than a few months.’ The variables the committee typically tracks include real personal income minus government transfers, employment, various forms of real consumer spending, and industrial production,” the post reads. “Notably, there are no fixed rules or thresholds that trigger a determination of decline, although the committee does note that in recent decades, they have given more weight to real personal income less transfers and payroll employment.”

CEA goes on to argue that while “recession probabilities are never zero,” 2022’s economic data points beyond pure GDP size “are not indicating a downturn.”

“Looking ahead, we know that the U.S., along with the rest of the global economy, faces significant headwinds — and little relevant data are yet available on the third quarter,” CEA concludes. “At the same, there is a good chance that the strength of the labor market and of consumer balance sheets help the economy transition from the rapid growth of the last year to steadier and more stable growth.”

Still, Biden’s critics are adamant that the public is not buying the White House’s line.

Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of the Job Creators Network, called the Biden administration’s recession framing “a desperate attempt to prevent Biden from being labeled a recession president, which would further hurt Democrats’ chances in the midterm elections.”

“Even following the administration’s request to take ‘a holistic look at the data’ still indicates the economy is in recession,” he said in a statement. “Historic inflation, a declining labor force, cratering financial markets, and record-low consumer confidence only bolster recession indications. No matter how the administration tries to slice it, the economy is in recession, and the Biden administration only has itself to blame. No wonder it’s trying so hard to redefine what a recession is.”

Republican National Committee spokesman Tommy Pigott called the administration’s recession rhetoric outright “delusion.”

“Newsflash for Joe Biden: You can’t change reality by arguing over definitions,” Pigott wrote in a statement. “They think all they have is a messaging problem. In truth though, they have a policy problem, and you can’t change reality by playing games with definitions. The American people are too smart for that.”

Biden’s recession messaging shift comes after the White House has publicly bristled over questions regarding public economic sentiment throughout 2022.

“The fact is, we are in a fundamentally different place compared to when the president took office and compared to this time a year ago,” White House press secretary Jean-Pierre said during a recent briefing when asked about a Wall Street Journal poll that found 61% of the country is “generally pessimistic about people having an opportunity to achieve the American dream” due to the current economic climate. “During this presidency, people felt uncertain about the economy generally, but they actually felt as good about their personal financial situations as they ever have, according to the Federal Reserve survey, with nearly 80% of adults reporting that they are financially comfortable. So that matters as well.”

“We understand that people are feeling this. They are feeling the increase of prices, with food in particular right now, and gas. That is something that we understand,” she continued. “What I’m trying to say to you is that the economy is in a better place than it has been historically, and so we feel here at this administration, and other experts as well, is that we feel that we are in a good position to take on inflation. We are in a good position to really start really working on lowering prices.”

One thought on “Biden administration redefines ‘recession’ so they don’t look bad”
  1. If socialism doesn’t work change the narrative to make it look better. This from a administration that has to change the definition of vaccine, woman inflation and now recession to push their narrative.

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