joe biden
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Joe Biden speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Washington.

President Biden said on Thursday that a recession is not inevitable in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates at the quickest pace in nearly 30 years.

“First of all, it’s not inevitable,” Biden told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview. “Secondly, we’re in a stronger position than any nation in the world to overcome this inflation.”

The stock market closed with steep losses on Thursday following the Fed’s announcement that it would hike its baseline interest rate range by 0.75 percentage points after an alarming May surge in inflation.

“Be confident, because I am confident we’re better positioned than any country in the world to own the second quarter of the 21st century,” Biden told the AP. “That’s not hyperbole, that’s a fact.”

He pointed to the nation’s low unemployment rate as a reason for optimism. The president also said that a common argument used by Republican lawmakers, that the American Rescue Plan — the COVID-19 relief package passed last year — could be blamed for inflation, was “bizarre.”

The 30-minute interview in the Oval Office was Biden’s first interview with the AP and first interview with similar outlets like Reuters, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post since taking office. The president has been criticized for doing fewer interviews than his predecessors at this point in his administration and specifically for seldomly doing interviews with print outlets. 

His interview with the AP also notably addressed dismal mindset of Americans as inflation is rising and people are faced with the high prices of gas and goods.

“People are really, really down,” Biden said.

“They’re really down,” he added. “The need for mental health in America, it has skyrocketed, because people have seen everything upset. Everything they’ve counted on upset. But most of it’s the consequence of what’s happened, what happened as a consequence of the COVID crisis.”

Biden’s approval rating dropped for its third straight week and is at 39 percent, with 56 percent of Americans disapproving of his job performance.

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