WASHINGTON – Americans are “really, really down” after two years of a pandemic and amid rising gasoline prices but the economy is in better shape than many think, President Biden said Thursday.
In a rare interview with a news organization, Biden told the Associated Press that a recession is not inevitable and there’s “zero evidence” that the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package is a main reason prices are high.
“If it’s my fault, why is it the case in every other major industrial country in the world that inflation is higher? You ask yourself that? I’m not being a wise guy,” Biden said. “Someone should ask themselves that question.”
Some economists warned that the money pumped into the economy through the economy from last year’s American Rescue Plan would spark inflation. Republicans have slowly attacked Biden for the cost.
But Biden said employment and wages have gone up under his watch, people have less credit card debt, more money in their savings account and more job satisfaction.
He also pointed to recent reductions in the federal deficit. The drop is largely due to the ending of expensive COVID-19 programs, such as expanded unemployment insurance, and increased tax revenues from recent economic growth.
Polls show that Americans are worried about the economy and are giving Biden weak marks for his leadership.
Biden said most of the turmoil people are dealing with is a “consequence of the COVID crisis.”
“People are really, really down,” Biden said. “Their need for mental health in America has skyrocketed because people have seen everything upset.”
He also blamed “the failure of the last administration to act on COVID” which he said had “a profound impact on the number of people who got COVID and the number of people who died.”
Americans were “much more optimistic” until gas prices started going up, Biden said, a consequence he blamed on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Biden: There’s a ‘price to pay’ for helping Ukraine but it was crucial to act
Biden said he made it clear that “there was going to be a price to pay” for helping Ukraine, but not acting would have been worse.
“You’d see chaos in Europe,” Biden said. The Russians might have continued into other countries and China and North Korea might have been emboldened to make their own moves.
Asked about the political risk he now faces from higher gas prices and whether Americans have a daily sense of the national security stakes he described, Biden said most households are just trying to figure out how to put food on the table. But, as president, Biden continued, he has to be willing to make tough decisions despite any political consequence.
Anyone who hasn’t figured out “what’s worth losing over,” shouldn’t get into politics, he said.
“Go into business, go into commerce, don’t, be engaged,” Biden said. “The purpose of public service is to promote views that you think are best for the American people.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently acknowledged that the relief package’s expanded child tax credit increased demand and might have caused a “marginal” increase in food prices. Biden rejected that possibility.
“You could argue whether it had a marginal, minor impact on inflation. I don’t think it did. And most economists do not think it did,” he said. “But the idea that it caused inflation is bizarre.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism