AP Interview: Biden says a recession is ‘not inevitable’

AP Interview: Biden says a recession is 'not inevitable' thumbnail

WASHINGTON President Joe Biden stated Thursday that the American people are “really down” after a turbulent two years, which included volatility in the economy, the coronavirus pandemic and surging gasoline prices, which are slamming families’ budgets. He stressed that a recession is not inevitable and hoped to give the country more confidence.

Speaking to The Associated Press in a 30-minute Oval Office interview, the president emphasized the battered economy that he inherited and the lingering psychological scars caused by a pandemic that disrupted people’s sense of identity. He bristled at claims by Republican lawmakers that last year’s COVID-19 aid plan was fully to blame for inflation reaching a 40-year high, calling that argument “bizarre.”

As for the overall American mindset, Biden said, “People are really, really down.”

“Their need for mental health in America has skyrocketed because people have seen everything upset,” Biden said. “Everything they counted on being upset. But most of it’s the consequence of what happened, what happened as a consequence of the, the COVID crisis.”

That pessimism has carried over into the economy as record prices at the pump and persistent inflation have jeopardized Democrats’ ability to hold on to the House and Senate in the midterm elections. Biden addressed the concerns of economists that fighting inflation could lead to the United States going into recession.

“First, it’s not impossible.” he stated. “Secondly, we’re in a stronger position than any nation in the world to overcome this inflation.”

As for the causes of inflation, Biden flashed some defensiveness on that count. “If it’s my fault why is it that the inflation in every other major industrial nation in the world is higher?” Do you think that is possible? He said, “I’m not being wise.”

The president’s statement seemed to be about inflation rising around the world, not necessarily whether countries have higher rates than the U.S. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Japan’s annual inflation has increased in recent months, but it is still at 2.4% annually. The president stated that he sees reason to be optimistic given the 3.6% unemployment rate, and America’s relative strength around the world.

But Biden’s approval ratings have been steadily declining as he loses support from Democrats and has little evidence to prove that he can restore a sense bipartisan normalcy in Washington.

Biden’s Oval Office is filled to the brim with portraits of presidents who have faced crises that have engulfed the country. The president acknowledged that there were parallels to his own situation. Over his fireplace is a picture of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This is because Jon Meacham, the historian, told Biden that no president has been elected with the economy in such dire straits. A painting of Abraham Lincoln is also on display. He was elected president in a nation that was fractured and on the brink of civil war.

Biden’s solution is not much different from that of former President Jimmy Carter in 1979,, when the U.S. was stagflation-stricken. Carter said then the U.S. was suffering from a “crisis of confidence” and “the erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.”

The president said he wants to endow the U.S. with more verve, fortitude and courage.

“Be confident,” Biden said. “Because i am confident. We’re better positioned than any country in the world to own the second quarter of the 21st century.”

Biden’s bleak assessment of the national psyche comes as voters have soured on his job performance and the direction of the country. According to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Research in May, only 39% Americans approve of Biden as president. This is a drop from the negative ratings a month ago.

Overall, only about 2 in 10 adults said the U.S. is heading in the right direction or that the economy is good, both down from about 3 in 10 in April. These drops were concentrated among Democrats with only 33% in the president’s party stating that the country is heading in the right direction.

Biden stated that Republican social policies are contributing to public anxiety. He suggested that GOP lawmakers could face serious consequences in the midterm elections if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court, potentially removing national protections regarding abortion access. The president stated that voters will consider the “failure” of the Republican Party to respond to “the basic socio-economic concerns of the country.”

The president spoke out about the difficult decisions he faced. He said that the U.S. had to stand up against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February, despite the fact that tough sanctions imposed by the war have caused gas prices and increased, creating a political risk to Biden in an election-year. He urged oil companies to consider the short-term needs of the world and to increase production.

When asked why he ordered financial penalties against Moscow for disrupting global food and energy markets, Biden stated that he did so as a commander in chief, not as a politician thinking about election campaigns.

“I am the president of the United States,” Biden said. “It’s not about me political survival. It’s about what is best for the country. No kidding. No kidding. What happens then? What happens if the strongest power, NATO, the organizational structure we put together, walked away from Russian aggression?”

Biden spun out the possibility of chaos in Europe if an unimpeded Russia kept moving deeper into the continent, China was emboldened to take over Taiwan and North Korea grew even more aggressive with its nuclear weapon ambitions.

Biden reiterated his assertion that major oil companies have not benefited as much from higher prices than they should. He stated that companies should think about the long-term and not just their shareholders.

” Don’t reward yourself.” he stated.

Consumer price have risen 8.6% in the past year, which is the highest increase in more than 40years. Republican lawmakers claim that the $1.9 trillion Coronavirus Relief Package, which Biden issued last year, set off a spiral of price rises.

The president claimed that there was no evidence to support that claim. He also noted that prices have risen in other countries as economies reopened and more people were vaccinated. Biden still acknowledged Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary,’s claim that the spending had a minimal inflationary effect.

” You could argue that it had a marginal, or a minor effect on inflation,” he said. “I don’t believe it did. Most economists don’t believe it did. But the idea that it caused inflation is bizarre.”

Still, high inflation has created a conundrum for Biden. Biden has made it a priority to bring back millions of jobs, and the unemployment rate has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Wednesday’s Federal Reserve increase in benchmark interest rate was done in the hope of slowing down the economy and bringing inflation down to 2%.

The tightening Fed policy has caused financial markets slump and led economists to warn about a possible recession next year. The president encouraged Americans not to lose heart and encouraged them to be patient.

” They shouldn’t believe any warnings,” he stated. They should simply say, “Let’s check.” Let’s see which is correct.'”

The president is still trying to steer his domestic agenda through Congress, after an earlier iteration last year failed to clear a 50-50 Senate. Biden said “I believe I have the votes” to lower prescription drug prices, reduce families’ utility bills with tax incentives and place a 15% minimum tax on corporations. Biden stated that his plans would lower American expenses, but the measure would be less than what was originally planned for expanded child tax credit, universal preschool, and other programs.

” I’m going to have the ability, God willing,” Biden stated. “There’s more than one way to bring down the cost for working folks.”

And then, in acknowledgement of the political restraints he faces, Biden added, “I can’t get it all done.”

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