When did two consecutive quarters of negative growth stop equalling a recession? When it became apparent the United States was going to experience two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth under President Joe Biden, of course.
“In terms of the technical definition, it’s not a recession. The technical definition considers a much broader spectrum of data points,” White House economic adviser Brian Deese said before the official data came out, according to Fox News.
Of course, that wasn’t the opinion Brian Deese always held. Back in 2008, he wrote that “economists have a technical definition of recession, which is two consecutive quarters of negative growth.”
Well, we’re there, and the White House refuses to acknowledge it.
The White House’s verbal prestidigitation on the definition of “recession” made the Biden administration figures of fun this week. Even former late-night host Conan O’Brien, hardly known as a fan of anything adjacent to conservatism, tweeted this:
The White House now says it’s only a recession if you see a salamander wearing a top hat.
— Conan O’Brien (@ConanOBrien) July 27, 2022
To Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, however, redefining “recession” wasn’t just a matter of trying to make the administration look good in the face of serious adversity. Instead, on his Thursday show, he said it was all part of the Biden administration trying to get you to “lower your expectations of America.”
Carlson’s monologue focused not just on the numerous people in the Biden administration to engage in recession denialism, but instead how they denied this was really a recession.
Take White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. She told reporters on Wednesday that two consecutive quarters of negative growth is “not the definition” and insisted “we’re not redefining recession.”
Instead, she said Thursday on ABC’s “The View,” we should look “more broadly at the data, and that’s why what we’re seeing is that we are in a transition.”
“We’re in a ‘transition. Does that mean the whole country is now taking puberty blockers and becoming a girl?” Carlson said, mockingly. “No, different kind of transition.”
That transition, he said, was exemplified in remarks given by Biden on Thursday, in which he tried to play the economy off as strong.
“Let me just give you what the facts are in terms of the state of the economy,” the president said.
“Number one, we have a record job market of record unemployment of 3.6 percent today, and the Inflation Reduction Act will add another $370 billion in clean energy tax credits in reconciliation, including incentives to accelerate domestic production of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and critical materials processing,” he continued, referring to the latest mega-spending bill that the Democrats have negotiated among themselves.
“That doesn’t sound like a recession to me. Thank you very much,” Biden concluded.
Much of the “transition” being talked about could be heard in the president’s remarks. Take the $370 billion in clean energy tax credits. Sure, the bill might have incentives to manufacture the elements of more expensive green energy here at home. However, at present, the market for those things goes through China.
“This is a transition to green energy and renewables. Joe Biden announced it today. It’s a transition to handing China our energy grid,” Carlson said.
“Oh, that’s a transition. Some might call it a collapse of empire and a subsequent disaster where we’re ruled by people who hate us. But no, it’s a transition in which China gets to make and control the wind turbines, the lithium, the solar panels.”
Not that this is what America wants, but it’s what Joe Biden is “transitioning” us to, Carlson said.
“What do actual voters think about this? Who cares cause that only matters in a democracy, but we’ll tell you anyway: Americans do not want to hand our energy grid to China or stop using air conditioning in the summer or drive your stupid little electric cars,” he said. “Right.
“Because it turns out no one believes the experts who have told us the world is going to end for the past 50 years, but who still buy beachfront property. Paging you, Barack Obama.”
And what about that prosperity Biden talked about? After all, we have 3.6 percent unemployment. Well, that doesn’t translate to prosperity — not when you’re running at 9.1 percent inflation. As Carlson pointed out, food banks across the country are seeing record numbers of people looking for assistance.
The Fox News host noted that the Second Harvest Food Bank, which has about 500 food bank partners in the central Florida region, “used to distribute 150,000 meals overall a day. Now they’re up to a quarter million and that number is rising.”
“The food bank’s director says the cause is inflation,” Carlson said. “Obviously, ‘it costs quite a bit to put millions and millions of pounds of food out the door every week and every month.’ Tell that to a local news station.
“So, does the White House notice any of this? Do they know what’s happening? Who knows what they know. They certainly don’t care. They’re saying it out loud.”
And then we return to our friend Brian Deese, telling us all how good we have it.
“The United States is in a stronger position to actually train our focus on tackling inflation than virtually any other country,” Deese said.
“For example, you know, with respect to our food,” he said, “we’re a net exporter of agricultural commodities and, obviously, the high prices are hitting Americans very hard but in a way that is different from some places that are facing famine, for example.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is perhaps the most effective summation of the “transition” anyone in the Biden administration has provided.
Carlson got the message loud and clear: “Oh ho ho, lower your expectations, America.”
“That sound you’re hearing is the goalposts moving,” he said. “So, we went very quickly now from ‘Build Back Better’ to ‘Hey, at least you’re not starving to death. At least we don’t have a famine.’ …
“Those were our first-world expectations, like electricity in the summertime. Oh, but there’s no famine.”
This is where we’re headed: deliberate scarcity and lowered expectations.
On so many issues, the Biden administration said we could all have our cake and eat it, too.
We could have massive federal spending without inflation, a whiplash green energy transition without high costs, two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth without a recession.
The real message, however, is that we can still buy some cake to eat, if we’re able to afford it. Or maybe a food bank will give us some. That’s the “transition” we’re in.
Lower those expectations, America.
Voters, I suspect, aren’t going to buy that message when they hit the booths this November.
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