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Are We In A Recession? It Doesn’t Matter To Americans Who Are Hurting, Economists Say

The Biden administration has disputed that the U.S. is actually in a recession despite two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth, but economists say the technical definition of a recession is irrelevant when considering the poor state of the economy.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced Thursday that U.S. GDP shrank by 0.9% in the second quarter of 2022, meaning that the U.S. economy has now yielded two consecutive quarters of negative growth, which some define as a recession but the Biden administration has disputed. But the technical definition of “recession” don’t matter to most regular people as inflation is running white-hot at 9.1%, interest rates are rising and making credit card debt and mortgages harder to service, and business owners are struggling to stay afloat amid lower demand, economists told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Instead of acknowledging responsibility for their failed policies, the Biden administration chooses to play word games, just like they did with inflation. The latest of their verbal gymnastics is an attempt to redefine a ‘recession’ and deny the reality of the current moment. It adds insult to injury for hundreds of American families when the Biden administration engages in this Orwellian doublespeak. Make no mistake—while Biden officials debate the meaning of ‘recession,’ working and middle-class Americans have been living in one for months,” E.J. Antoni, research fellow for regional economics at The Heritage Foundation, said in a statement shared with the DCNF.

Following the GDP report, President Joe Biden said that “it’s no surprise that the economy is slowing down as the Federal Reserve acts to bring down inflation, but even as we face historic global challenges, we are on the right path.” On Monday he had argued that “I don’t think we’re going to be in a recession.”

“The [GDP] drop was largely caused by the huge spike in inflation we saw this spring, which wiped out household purchasing power and resulted in a large drop in spending on goods,” Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Administration officials have repeatedly made the technically accurate point that two quarters of negative growth is a colloquial, and not official definition.

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) makes the official determination as to whether the economy is in a recession, often retroactively, and does say that “there is no fixed rule about what measures contribute information to the process or how they are weighted in our decisions.”

But the debate over the definition of a recession is an attempt to spin the narrative and distract from the fact that the economy is in poor shape, regardless of economic semantics, according to Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of Job Creators Network.

“This is a desperate and shameful attempt to move the recession goalposts to prevent Biden from being labeled a recession President. Americans don’t care about this technical definition but have long been suffering from sky-high gas prices and skyrocketing inflation,” Ortiz told the DCNF.

“They’re doing it all because of politics. They should just say look, we’re into a recession, let’s get out of it in a hurry,” former advisor to Vice President Mike Pence General Keith Kellogg told the DCNF.

The White House did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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