White House Stumbles Over Economic Advisers Changing Definitions of a Recession

joe biden
Johannes Eisele, Jim Lo Scalzo/Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday struggled to explain old statements from President Joe Biden’s economic advisers defining a recession as two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was confronted during the daily briefing with a 2008 statement from Biden’s current economic adviser, Brian Deese, who was at that time serving as an economic adviser to Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democrat primary.

“What Senator Clinton has said is that of course economists have a technical definition of recession, which is two consecutive quarters of negative growth,” Deese said in a quote resurfaced by the Republican National Committee on Wednesday.

That sharply differed from Deese’s comments on Tuesday, when he stated the opposite.

But the White House disagreed with Deese’s old quote.

“It is not. It is not. It is not,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre repeated.

White House advisers have repeatedly refused to define what a recession is, but they frequently cite the definition outlined by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The Republican National Committee also dug up old quotes from Biden’s other economic adviser.

In May, Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers Cecilia Rouse said during a CNN interview  that “Typically, economists date a recession as being at least two quarters of negative growth, and other factors, which we have not seen at all.”

Biden’s economic adviser Jared Bernstein also described a recession as “two consecutive quarters of declining growth” in an op-ed provided to Foreign Affairs.

The president’s economic adviser Heather Boushey also cited the “rule of thumb” in a paper that “two quarters of negative growth in GDP” means the economy is in a recession.

Biden has repeatedly said the United States will not go into a recession.

“We’re not going to be in a recession, in my view,” he said on Monday.

“We’ll see some coming down but I don’t think we’re going to, God willing, I don’t think we’re going to see a recession,” he continued.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.