President Joe Biden told The Associated Press on Thursday that the American people are “really, really depressed” after two tumultuous years with the coronavirus pandemic, a volatile economy and soaring gasoline prices hitting family budgets.
He said a recession is not inevitable and bristled at claims by Republican lawmakers that last year’s COVID-19 relief package was entirely responsible for inflation hitting a 40-year high. , calling this argument “weird”.
As for the general mood of Americans, Biden said, “People are really, really depressed.”
“They’re really down,” he said. “The need for mental health in America, it’s skyrocketed, because people have seen everything turned upside down. Everything they counted on turned upside down. But most of it is the consequence of what happened, what happened as a result of the COVID crisis.
Speaking to the AP in a 30-Minute Oval Office interview, Biden responded to warnings from economists that the United States could be heading into a recession.
“First of all, it’s not inevitable,” he said. “Second, we are in a stronger position than any nation in the world to overcome this inflation.”
The president said he saw reason for optimism with the 3.6% unemployment rate and America’s relative strength in the world.
“Be confident, because I am convinced that we are better positioned than any country in the world to own the second quarter of the 21st century,” Biden said. “That’s not hyperbole, that’s fact.”