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President Biden’s chief economic adviser on Sunday refused to state whether he believes the U.S. is headed into a recession, instead claiming that the American economy is in a “period of transition.”
During a “Fox News Sunday” interview, host Martha MacCallum asked National Economic Council Director Brian Deese to react to assessments by PayPal founding COO David Sacks and a growing list of others suggesting the United States is heading into a recession in the near future.
“Our economy is in a period of transition. We’re moving from the strongest economic recovery in modern history to what can be a period of more stable and resilient growth,” Deese responded, “And while there are absolutely risks with inflation at front and first and foremost, this is what is most important: The United States is positioned better than any other major economy to bring inflation down and address these challenges without giving up all of the economic gains we’ve made, and that’s because of the strength of our recovery. We have the strongest job market in modern history.”
“Americans are getting back to work in jobs with higher pay,” he continued. “That’s meant that Americans can increase their savings, pay down their debt, businesses are investing, entrepreneurs are creating new businesses at record rates, and manufacturing is coming back to the United States.”
Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, speaks during a news conference at the White House on May 16, 2022. (Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Interjecting, McCallum pointed to recent remarks by Bush administration economic adviser Glenn Hubbard, who suggested that regardless of the technical benchmark, Americans feel like they’re in a recession. Current Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also recently claimed that higher food and gas prices are having “stagflationary effects,” and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Americans can anticipate “some pain” as the central banks raise interest rates to fight soaring inflation.
“So, I’m asking for your opinion as the economic adviser at the White House. Should people be prepared in the United States that we are or will be in several months heading into a recession?” McCallum asked.
President Joe Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on May 4, 2022. (Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“What people should know is we are in this period of transition to more stable growth,” Deese responded. “People should also take confidence that we are better positioned than any other country to navigate through this and keep our recovery going.”
The Biden administration official cited a report from this week claiming the U.S. economy may grow faster this year than China’s economy for the first time in decades, but McCallum quickly clarified that China is in the middle of its deepest lockdown since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and Bloomberg reported that that is the reason why the U.S. currently has a slightly higher level of growth.
Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on March 31, 2022. (Photographer: Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Deese admitted that higher prices at the gas pump and grocery store “create real hardship and uncertainty” for Americans, so “that’s precisely why the president has made it very clear that combating inflation is his top economic priority.” He said the administration aims to continue giving the Federal Reserve independence to fight inflation, lower prices for prescription drugs and Internet, and further decrease the deficit, which is already down $1.5 trillion this year.
Speaking from Seoul, South Korea, earlier, President Biden commended Hyundai’s $10 million pledge to invest in electric vehicles and related technologies in the U.S., saying the country is headed for an “all electric future.” But rather than push for green energy, McCallum noted that many Americans are calling on the president to increase domestic oil and gas supply to lower prices on a global scale.
“What you’re hearing from the president is that we need to distinguish between the short term and the long term. In the short term, this president has made clear that we need to increase the supply of oil on the market to blunt the impact of Putin’s war in Ukraine and Russian supply coming off the market,” Deese said. “So, what the president has done, it has been to encourage the domestic industry to increase production right now, not years in the future, but right now.”
He said the Biden administration already committed to increase production by 1 million barrels per day by the fall and to release oil from the strategic petroleum reserves by the same amount until then.
“But we also know that our car companies and our car industry is moving toward electric vehicles. And we’re moving toward an electric vehicle future. We want that transition to happen. We want people to have those choices. It’s better for the environment. These cars are fun to drive. People like them. We want more of those cars built in the United States with secure supply chains so that we’re not reliant on foreign countries and uncertain supplies. And we want to accelerate that process in a way good for the American consumer.”