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Calling a Recession a Recession

We are in an era of political gaslighting

Politicians lie. Most Americans understand that it takes a certain level of shamelessness and cynicism to work a job where you get to wield power over your countrymen, and we remember some of the recent greatest hits, from President Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” to former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s humdinger before the United Nations, which began with “My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence,” and ended with either overt lies, or, at the very least, half-truths about weapons of mass destruction.

President Obama’s lie about citizens being able to “keep their doctor” after enrolling in the Obamacare program, and President Trump’s bizarre claim that a half-empty National Mall, in fact, contained more human beings than a National Mall at capacity, were both easily debunked. You have probably heard a mayor or city councilman make claims about filling potholes, reducing crime, or any number of things that the vast majority of citizens simply assume will never come to pass. 

The Biden administration has maintained a splintered relationship with the truth since day one, promising to build (the economy) back better, then severely limiting domestic oil production via executive order, and passing multiple trillion-plus dollar spending packages that sent the country down a path towards stagflation. The White House assured the nation, and the world, that the Afghan army was up to the task of defending their country, and that there was no risk of the Taliban retaking power. Your rulers in Washington D.C. told you that “inflation is transitory,” with a straight face, and erroneously claimed that Vladimir Putin was to blame for the historic increase in the price of gas. 

The gaslighting hit a fever pitch this summer. The country’s gross domestic product decreased during the first two quarters of 2022, meeting the definition of a recession, accepted by economists and politicians on both sides of the aisle, for the last several decades. Former President Clinton confirmed what was already accepted in 2000, when he said “a recession is two quarters in a row of negative growth.” Joe Biden’s strategy to handle the recession, so far, has been to deny its existence wholesale. The president insisted “I don’t think we’re going to see a recession” despite the accepted definition of a recession having already been met. Some in corporate media dutifully, and shamelessly, parroted the administration’s new definition of the word, and Wikipedia was forced to freeze edits on their ‘recession’ page, after partisans rushed to edit away the long-acknowledged definition. Not everyone in the president’s party agrees with Biden’s strategy. To his credit, James Clyburn, the powerful South Carolina Democrat, admitted “Well, for a lot of people, we are. There’s no question about that. If you can’t afford to buy gasoline, you are in a recession,” when asked by Fox’s Neil Cavuto about whether or not the country is currently facing a recession.

The lies continued when congressional leaders landed on the name ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ for the tax and spend package agreed to by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. The bill would spend an additional 433 billion dollars in the middle of an inflationary recession, raise taxes on citizens making under 200k/year by 16.7 billion in 2023, and double the current number of IRS agents. It is unlikely that the administration and congressional leadership believe that printing more money, and raising taxes will reduce inflation. Occam’s razor says they are, once again, lying to the American people; however, it is doubtful that Americans will buy it. Wages have stagnated, inflation continues to rise, and the average citizen’s savings account is dwindling. Irresponsible government spending causes inflation, foreign policy is complicated, and two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth means we are in a recession. Just tell us the truth, Mr. President.

Brady Leonard is a musician, political strategist, and podcaster based in Toledo, Ohio. The No Gimmicks Podcast airs Mondays and Wednesdays at 1pm EST, wherever podcasts are found. Follow him on Twitter @bradyleonard

Brady Leonard is a musician, political strategist, and podcaster based in Toledo, Ohio. The No Gimmicks Podcast airs Mondays and Wednesdays at 1pm EST, wherever podcasts are found.
Catalyst articles by Brady Leonard