Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg dodged multiple questions on whether the U.S. economy is headed for a recession.
While making the rounds on the Sunday talk shows, Buttigieg deflected multiple times when hosts asked him if he thought a recession was forthcoming. Buttigieg’s comments come on the heels of two-quarters of negative economic growth, which meets the rule-of-thumb definition of a recession, combined with crushing inflation that rose 8.2% from September 2021 to September 2022, surpassing analysts’ forecasts.
Buttigieg downplayed the threat of recession on ABC’s “This Week” first.
“Look, it’s possible, but not inevitable,” he said. “[P]art of why we do see a lot of pressure on prices is that while demand has come back, Americans have more income because Americans have jobs in this almost historically low level of unemployment, it’s been hard for the supply side to keep up,” he added.
Then on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” he was asked to clarify conflicting remarks that President Joe Biden made last week about a possible recession. “What exactly is the forecast?” host Margaret Brennan inquired.
“Well, look, I mean, forecasting is by its nature, something that is a little bit uncertain,” Buttigieg replied.
“That’s political spin,” Brennan cut in.
“Well, look, I- I don’t think anybody could argue that, for example, our unemployment numbers are anything but strong as hell, they’re under 4%,” Buttigieg responded. “That almost never happens. We’re at or near the definition of full employment. We also don’t have any illusions about the challenges that Americans face with prices,” he added before shifting the blame to Republicans who didn’t vote for Democratic priorities in the Inflation Reduction Act or the government funding bill.
“We are squarely focused on making it easier for Americans to get by on their income,” said Buttigieg.
The Transportation Secretary’s remarks follow similarly conflicting comments made by his boss. During a recent interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Biden shot down fears of a recession, saying that if one comes, it would be a minor one.
“Every six months they say this,” Biden said. “There is no guarantee that there’s going to be a recession, I don’t think there will be a recession, if there is it will be a very slight recession, that is we’ll move down slightly.”
But while speaking to reporters Saturday, Biden shot down the possibility of a recession flat out, claiming that the U.S. economy was strong and that other countries were facing more significant hardship.
“Our economy is strong as hell,” Biden claimed. “Inflation is worldwide, it’s worse off everywhere else than it is in the United States. So the problem is a lack of economic growth and sound policy in other countries, not so much ours.”