Biden plays Orwell, tries to redefine what ‘recession’ means
“All rulers in all ages have tried to impose a false view of the world upon their followers,” George Orwell wrote in “1984.”
On Thursday, the federal government is expected to release statistics revealing that the economy contracted in the second quarter. Since this will be the second quarter in a row that the economy shrank, that fits the established definition of a recession.
So true to Orwell, Team Biden is going to change the meaning of words.
Biden’s Council of Economic Advisors launched a preemptive strike against bad news with a blog post on the theme: “What is a recession?” Despite decades of top economists concurring on a definition, Biden’s appointees treat the topic like an arcane metaphysical dispute that requires a “holistic look at the data.”
Instead of admitting the economy is shrinking, Team Biden touts a test indicating that a recession is not underway unless “the three-month moving average of the unemployment rate rises by at least half a percentage point (50 basis points) relative to its lowest point in the previous 12 months.”
“Moving average” is an apt phrase that evokes the circus shell game the Biden folks use to define away their failures.
Biden’s economic advisers stress that judgments on recession depend on “government statistics that are reported at various lags.” Remember that Biden and his appointees denigrate reports with negative data as “old news” while whooping up any positive data as if it was handed down from Mount Sinai. The first-quarter economic data are ancient history no longer relevant in our glorious era of Biden Benevolence. The second-quarter data, if as bad as expected, will be labeled a fluke.
The only certainty is that it will be impossible to confirm a recession until November 9, the day after the midterm congressional elections. And by that point, all the earlier data will be “spilled milk” that only proves the need for national unity and rallying around Joe Biden. And between now and Election Day, Biden is willing to force Americans to pay any price to create the illusion of prosperity.
Biden’s advisers boast that the economy is on the path to “steadier and more stable growth.” The leading economic indicators index has fallen four months in a row. The Purchasing Managers Index and services index are both signaling recession. The University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers last month reported the lowest recorded level of consumer confidence ever (going back to 1952). Monday’s Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook Level shows rapid and sharp contraction in Texas; one survey respondent lamented that “the economy is in shambles.”
The economy is deteriorating because of Biden’s policies.
Last week, before Biden announced he had cancer and before his COVID diagnosis, he was apparently on the verge of declaring a “climate emergency” and issuing God knows what edicts. The Biden administration continues blocking oil production while his appointees hector Americans about buying exorbitantly priced electric cars. The Washington Post warned that Biden’s attempts to block Russian oil imports could send gasoline prices to $6 a gallon by October. Biden is still trying to uncork trillions of dollars in new handouts via his Build Back Better bill that is stalled on Capitol Hill.
In his hour of need, Biden may sorely miss the recently-shuttered Disinformation Governance Board. If that board still existed, Team Biden could simply issue a decree labeling the prior definition of recession as “misinformation” that foments extremism, cynicism and maybe all-round hooliganism. And Biden’s lackeys in the media and at social-media companies would rush to suppress any untimely truths that tarnished his presidential halo.
Stay tuned for the Biden White House’s official redefinition of “going to hell in a handbasket.”
James Bovard is the author of 10 books and a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors.