Despite several worrying trends facing the United States economy, President Joe Biden denied that another recession is “inevitable” on Monday.
During a press conference alongside Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, a reporter pressed Biden on “record-high inflation” and “enormously high gas prices” in the United States.
“Given the cross-currents of the economy right now — the war in Ukraine, the China lockdowns that we’ve seen — should Americans be prepared for a recession? In your view, is a recession in the United States inevitable?” the reporter asked.
Biden replied simply: “No.”
The reporter followed up: “Why not?”
In response, Biden pointed toward gains in employment and a handful of large foreign projects in the United States — including a $17 billion Samsung semiconductor factory in Texas and a $5.5 billion Hyundai electric vehicle plant in Georgia.
“Here’s the situation,” Biden continued. “And when it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it’s over, we’ll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels when this is over.”
Indeed, key White House officials have frequently called for American families to buy electric cars in reaction to rising gas prices. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, for instance, claimed in November that Americans who buy electric vehicles “never have to worry about gas prices again.”
At the press conference, Biden also pointed to his decisions to release millions of barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as successful in stopping gas prices from “getting even worse.”
“The price of gas at the pump is something that I told you — you heard me say before — it would be a matter of great discussion at my kitchen table when I was a kid growing up. It’s affecting a lot of families,” Biden explained. “But we have released over two hundred and, I think, fifty-seven thousand — million barrels of oil, I should say. Us and the rest of the world we convinced to get involved. It’s helped, but it’s not been enough.”
Rather than seeking to increase domestic oil and gas production, Biden said he would address high energy prices by persuading “the Middle Eastern countries, including OPEC, to raise their production of oil and move along that route.”
Biden also pinned food shortages in the United States on the Ukraine conflict.
“We also find ourselves in a situation where we have food shortages — food shortages because of Ukraine,” he said. “There are over — there are literally millions of bushels of oil — I mean, excuse me, of grain being held up in Ukraine that would fundamentally impact positively on the market in terms of bringing down food prices across the board.”
Among the food shortages hitting the United States is a severe lack of baby formula. President Biden initiated “Operation Fly Formula” to import the product from Europe; however, the batch that arrived on Sunday is bound for hospitals, doctors, home health care facilities, and pharmacies in regions with the most severe needs.
Despite President Biden’s optimism, the vast majority of Americans are wary of his economic performance. While 64% disagree on his handling of the economy, 70% disapprove of his approach toward inflation, according to a recent CBS poll.