‘Soviet-Style Propaganda’: Republicans Rip Biden White House for Redefining ‘Recession’ amid Economic Contraction

Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, speaks during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, April 26, 2021. President Biden is poised to unveil a plan that would raise taxes on the income, investments …
Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Republican officials in the House and Senate ripped into the Biden administration after it attempted to redefine what constitutes a recession while concerns mount about a significant decline in economic activity this year.

On Thursday, ahead of a potentially negative GDP report expected later this week — the annualized economic growth rate shrank by 1.6% in the first quarter of this year and appears to have contracted even more in the second — a White House blog post attempted to redefine the term “recession.”

“While some maintain that two consecutive quarters of falling real GDP constitute a recession, that is neither the official definition nor the way economists evaluate the state of the business cycle,” it reads, concluding that it is “unlikely that the decline in GDP in the first quarter of this year — even if followed by another GDP decline in the second quarter — indicates a recession.”

In addition, White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese claimed that a second consecutive quarter of negative GDP growth was technically “not a recession.” 

In response, Republicans took to Twitter to rip the Biden team for seeking to redefine what a recession is.

“Soviet-style propaganda from the Biden White House,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) wrote. “Redefining recession is not a solution to get our country out of one.”

“You can’t message your way out of a recession!” Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) exclaimed.

“The Biden Administration’s top economic priority appears to be changing the definition of a recession,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) wrote.

“The left tried to redefine ‘woman.’ Now they’re trying to redefine ‘recession,’” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) wrote.

“Changing the definition of a recession does not take away the pain @POTUS’s economy is inflicting on the American people,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) wrote.

“There are very real actions we can take to reverse course and get our economy back on track. Attempting to redefine ‘recession’ is not one of them,” Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) wrote.

“The Biden Administration is trying to redefine what a ‘recession’ is to cover up the President’s failing policies,” Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) wrote.

“But no matter how hard he tries, Joe Biden cannot change reality!” she added.

“They can change the definition of ‘recession’ all they want,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote. “But the American people know.”

“First, Democrats change the definition of ‘woman.’ Now, they change the definition of ‘recession.’ What’s next? Changing the definition of ‘definition’ ?” the GOP House Judiciary tweeted.

“Nobody is buying this White House’s sudden redefinition of what a ‘recession’ is,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) wrote.

“Biden’s policies caused our economic crisis and his team is desperate to avoid accountability,” he added. “It won’t work.”

“When the vaccines failed to prevent infection, they redefined vaccination. When the economy fails to grow, they redefine recession,” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) wrote.

“If the press allows Biden to change the definition of ‘recession’ to gaslight the American people, then we know the media is irredeemably corrupt and partisan,” Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) wrote. “A major test for the so-called ‘fact checkers!’”

“Instead of being honest with the American people and admitting their policies caused a recession, Biden and Harris are REDEFINING THE WORD!” Miller wrote in another tweet.

“This is creepy Orwellian behavior & the entire media MUST call them out for this!” she added.

“If we weren’t in a recession, the White House wouldn’t be redefining the word ‘recession’ on their website,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) wrote.

“This administration has a habit of changing definitions!” Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) wrote.

“What is a woman? What is a recession? What is a reasonable price to pay for gas?” he asked.

“The White House claims two straight quarters of negative GDP growth doesn’t indicate a recession is looming,” Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) wrote.

“They also told us inflation would be ‘transitory,’” he added.

“While the majority of Americans already think we are in a recession, the White House and Democrats are scrambling to redefine the term ‘recession’ to avoid admitting what the American people already know,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) wrote, attaching an “#OutOfTouch hashtag.

“In true Soviet fashion, the White House has decided to change the definition of a recession right before the coming GDP numbers are expected to show we are in one,” Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL) wrote.

“Two things the Biden administration cannot answer: What is a woman? What is a recession?” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) wrote.

On Monday, Deese argued that the “technical definition” of recession “considers a much broader spectrum of data points.” 

He also emphasized the need to look ahead rather than focus on “technical debates about backward-looking data.”

On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. economy was not in recession.

Admitting the economy is “slowing down,” Yellen stressed that the labor market is currently “extremely strong.”

These statements come as most adult Americans believe the United States is “currently in an economic recession,” according to an Economist/YouGov poll, and as President Biden’s economic approval rating has plummeted to a new low, according to a recent CNBC All-America Economic survey. 

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.

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