WH Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: ‘We’re Not Redefining Recession’

Melanie Arter | July 28, 2022 | 10:28am EDT
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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily briefing in the James S Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 27, 2022. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily briefing in the James S Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 27, 2022. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that the White House is not redefining recession one day before it was reported that the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) shrank by 0.9 percent, the second quarter in which the GDP fell.

“Real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the second quarter of 2022, following a decrease of 1.6 percent in the first quarter. The smaller decrease in the second quarter primarily reflected an upturn in exports and a smaller decrease in federal government spending,” the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported Thursday.


Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy asked the press secretary, “So as you talk about plans on the other side, it was this president’s plans that contributed to inflation, right?”

JEAN-PIERRE: No, it was not. 

DOOCY: How?

JEAN-PIERRE:  It was this president’s plan — if we talk about the American Rescue Plan — Look, Peter, when the president walked into this administration, there was an economic crisis, there was a COVID crisis, there was a climate change crisis, and we’re still dealing with a lot of that right now, but the president turned the economy back on.  

There were businesses that were closed, schools that were closed, and because of the American Rescue Plan — by the way, no Republican voted for that plan —

JEAN-PIERRE:  — and that plan had $350 billion for public safety — another thing that Republicans talk about but they actually don’t do — and they don’t put — push forward on a policy that will help our law enforcement.  

That plan helped put us in a stronger labor market and helped make our economy stronger, and so that is what is happening. It is not the president that has created inflation. There are also outside factors that has led us to where we are today.

DOOCY: If things are going so great though, then why is it that White House officials are trying to redefine "recession"?

JEAN-PIERRE: No, we’re not redefining recession.

DOOCY: If we all understand a recession to be two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth in a row, and then you have White House officials come up here to say, “No, no, no, that’s not what a recession is, it’s something else,” how is that not redefining recession?

JEAN-PIERRE:  Because that’s not the definition.  That is not the definition.

DOOCY: Brian Deese said in 2008, “Of course, economists have a technical definition,” which is — “of a recession, which is two consecutive quarters of negative growth.” 

JEAN-PIERRE:  I can tell you this —

DOOCY: And then yesterday he said two consecutive — “two negative quarters of GDP growth is not the technical definition of recession.”

JEAN-PIERRE:  It is not. 

DOOCY: What changed? 

JEAN-PIERRE:  It is not. 

DOOCY: Why did he say that it was?  What’s the — 

JEAN-PIERRE:  I can sp- — I can speak to —

DOOCY: — difference, other than who the president is?

JEAN-PIERRE:  I can speak to you — to what he said yesterday, in front of all of you, which is the last thing that you just repeated. 

There are many factors — there are many factors — economic factors and indicators — to consider, and I will say that the textbook definition of “recession” is not — is not two negative quarters of GDP. We have a strong labor market. We have business that’s investing. We have consumers that are also very much, you know, investing and purchasing. That is incredibly important. 

We have 3.6 unemployment. You do not see that in a pre-recession, and you do not see that in a recession. So the factors that we are seeing right now, the economic indicators, does not — does not show that we’re in recession, and I’ll read — since you gave me some quotes, I’ll give you some as well. 

In 2009, the St. Louis Fed said, “While the popular definition of a recession is ‘two consecutive quarters of negative real gross domestic product (GDP) growth,’ the NBER” — which we have mentioned many times in this room — “does not strictly abide by this designation.  Instead, the committee broadly defines a recession as a ‘significant decline in economic activity spreading across the economy lasting more than a few months.’” NBER has been around since 1920.

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