AP interview: Biden says a recession ‘inevitable’

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden said Thursday that Americans are “really, saddened” after a turbulent two -year coronavirus pandemic.economic volatility and now the price of gasoline is rising which damages family budgets. But he stressed that a recession was “inevitable” and hoped to give the country more confidence.

Speaking to The Associated Press in a 30-minute interview at the Oval Office, the president highlighted the collapsed economy he has inherited and the ongoing psychological wounds caused by a pandemic that has disrupted people’s sense of identity. . He was outraged by claims by Republican lawmakers that last year’s COVID-19 aid plan was entirely to blame for inflation reaching a 40-year high, calling that argument “strange. “

As for the general thinking of Americans, Biden said, “People are really, really upset.”

“Their need for mental health in America is skyrocketing because people see everyone angry,” Biden said. “Everyone they trusted was angry. But much of it was the result of what happened, what happened as a result of, the COVID crisis.

That pessimism is leading to the economy as record pump prices and continued inflation jeopardize the ability of Democrats to stay in the House and Senate in the midterm elections. Biden responded to warnings from economists that the fight against inflation could slow down in the United States.

“First of all, it’s inevitable,” he said. “Second, we are in a stronger position than any country in the world to overcome this inflation.”

As for inflation factors, Biden shows some defenses on that count. “If I am wrong, why is it that in all the major industrialized countries of the world inflation is higher? You ask yourself that? I am not a smart person, ”he said.

The president’s statement showed that with regard to rising inflation around the world, it is not necessary if countries have a higher rate than U.S. Annual inflation in Japan, for example, has risen in recent months even though it is a annual rate of 2.4%, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The president said he sees the reason for the optimism of the 3.6% unemployment rate and America’s relative strength in the world.

But the restoration of trust so far has prevented Biden, whose approval ratings continue to decline because he has lost support from Democrats and there is little evidence to show that he can restore a sense of bipartisan. which is normal in Washington.

Biden’s Oval Office is filled with photographs of presidents facing crises that have devastated the country, and the president acknowledges that there are parallels to his own situation. A photograph of Franklin Delano Roosevelt hangs by his fireplace, a place prominent because historian Jon Meacham told Biden that no president sat in office with the economy in such dire circumstances. There is also a painting of Abraham Lincoln, who became president with a country brutally divided and on the verge of Civil War.

Yet Biden’s treatment is no different from the diagnosis made by former President Jimmy Carter in 1979, when the U.S. economy was crippled by stagflation. Carter said the U.S. is suffering from a “crisis of confidence” and “the decline in our confidence in the future threatens to destroy America’s social and political fabric.”

The president said he wanted to give the U.S. more motivation, strength and courage.

“Be confident,” Biden said. “Because I am confident. We are in a better position than any country in the world to own in the second quarter of the 21st century.

Biden’s dark scrutiny of the national psyche comes as voters damage his performance of work and the direction of the country. Only 39% of U.S. adults approve of Biden’s performance as president, according to a May poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Research, from already negative ratings a month ago.

Overall, only about 2 in 10 adults say the U.S. is heading in the right direction or that the economy is doing well, both from about 3 to 10 in April. Those drops were concentrated by Democrats, with only 33% within the president’s party saying the country was heading in the right direction.

Biden said Republican social policies have contributed to public concerns. He suggested that GOP lawmakers could face consequences in the midterms if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, it is possible to remove national protections for abortion access. Voters will consider this Republican Party’s “failure to be prepared” to address “the country’s basic social concerns,” the president said.

The president outlined some of the tough choices he faces, saying the U.S. should stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine in February despite the tough sanctions imposed. as a result of that war caused gas prices to soar, creating a political upheaval. risk for Biden in an election year. He called on oil companies to consider the world’s short -term needs and increase production.

Asked why he ordered financial sanctions against Moscow that disrupted food and energy markets around the world, Biden said he did his calculations as commander in chief rather than a politician thinking about elections.

“I am the president of the United States,” he said. “It’s not even about my political survival. It’s about what’s best for the country. No comedy. No comedy. So what happens? What would happen if the most powerful power, NATO, the organizational structure with which we are united, shunned Russian aggression?

Biden ruled out the possibility of unrest in Europe if an unrestrained Russia continues to operate on the deep continent, China is encouraged to take over Taiwan and North Korea has become more aggressive in its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Biden renewed his contention that the big oil companies benefited from higher prices without increasing production as much as they needed. He said companies need to think about the world in the short term, not just their investors.

“Don’t just reward yourself,” he said.

Consumer price jumped 8.6% last year, the highest increase in more than 40 years. Republican lawmakers say Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package from last year began a spiral of price increases.

The president says there is “zero evidence” for that claim, as other countries are suffering from higher prices as economies reopen and people are vaccinated. However, Biden acknowledged Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s argument that spending has a limited inflationary effect.

“You can argue if it has a marginal, small impact on inflation,” he said. “I don’t think it is. And most economists don’t think it’s done. But the idea that it causes inflation is unique.

However, high inflation has created a conundrum for Biden. He spearheaded the restoration of millions of jobs and saw the unemployment rate return to almost pre-pandemic levels. The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised the benchmark interest rate, in hopes of slowing the economy and lowering inflation to the target rate of 2%.

Fed policy tightening has affected financial markets to collapse and led many economists to warn of a potential recession next year. The president urged Americans to remain patient.

“They don’t have to believe a warning,” he said. “They just say: ‘Let’s see. Let’s see which one is right. ‘”

The president is still trying to manage his domestic agenda through Congress, after an early comeback last year failed to clear the Senate 50-50. Biden said “I believe I have the votes” to lower prescription drug prices, reduce utility bills for families with tax incentives and put a 15% minimum tax on those. corporation. He said his plans will reduce costs for many Americans, even if the move is reduced from initial goals for an expanded child tax credit, universal pre-kindergarten and other programs. .

“I can get, God willing, the ability to pay for prescription drugs,” Biden said. “There’s more than one way to reduce the cost of those who work.”

And then, recognizing the political constraints he faced, Biden added, “I can’t finish everything.”

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