Biden says Americans are ‘really, really depressed’ by pandemic, gas prices, but economy is resilient

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WASHINGTON — Americans are “really, really depressed” after two years of the pandemic and amid rising gas prices, but the economy is in better shape than many think, President Joe Biden said Thursday. .

In a rare interview with a news agency, Biden told The UK Time News that a recession is not inevitable and that there is “no evidence” that the coronavirus relief program of 1, $9 trillion is one of the main reasons the prices are high.

“If it’s my fault, why is it the case in every other major industrial country in the world that inflation is higher? You wonder that? I’m not a sage,” Biden said. “Someone should ask themselves this question.”

Some economists have warned that the money pumped into the economy by last year’s US bailout would trigger inflation. Republicans have relentlessly attacked Biden over the cost of the plan.

But Biden said employment and wages grew under his watch, and people had less credit card debt, more money in their savings account and more job satisfaction.

He also pointed to recent reductions in the federal deficit. The decline is largely due to the end of costly COVID-19 programs, such as expanded unemployment insurance, and increased tax revenues resulting from recent economic growth.

USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll: Biden approval rating at 39% amid economic fears; 47% “strongly disagree”

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President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with leaders of Caribbean nations during the Summit of the Americas, while addressing the January 6, 2021 insurgency ahead of the first public hearing.

Polls show Americans worried about the economy and giving Biden low ratings for his leadership.

A new USA TODAY/Suffolk poll shows just 39% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president. More than seven in 10, 71%, say the United States is “on the wrong track.”

Biden said most of the turmoil people are facing is a “consequence of the COVID crisis.”

“People are really, really depressed,” Biden said. “Their need for mental health in America has skyrocketed because people have seen everything turned upside down.”

USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll: Biden approval rating at 39% amid economic fears; 47% “strongly disagree”

He also blamed “the last administration’s failure to act on COVID” which he said had “a profound impact on the number of people who have contracted COVID and the number of people who have died.”

Americans were “much more optimistic” until gas prices started to rise, Biden said, a consequence he blamed on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Biden: There’s a ‘price to pay’ for helping Ukraine, but action was crucial

Biden said he made it clear that “there would be a price to pay” for helping Ukraine, but not acting would have been worse.

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“You would see chaos in Europe,” Biden said. The Russians could have continued in other countries and China and North Korea could have been encouraged to make their own moves.

Related: With gas prices at $5 a gallon, Biden tells oil companies to cut costs for Americans

Asked about the political risk he now faces from rising gas prices and whether Americans have a day-to-day sense of the national security issues he described, Biden said the most households were just trying to figure out how to put food on the table. But, as president, Biden continued, he must be prepared to make tough decisions despite all the political consequences.

Anyone who hasn’t understood “what’s worth losing” shouldn’t go into politics, he said.

“Do business, do business, don’t engage,” Biden said. “The purpose of public service is to promote the views that you believe are best for the American people.”

Biden: It’s ‘weird’ to say US bailout caused inflation

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently acknowledged that expanding the relief plan’s child tax credit had increased demand and could have led to a “marginal” increase in food prices. Biden dismissed that possibility.

“You might wonder if this had a marginal and minor impact on inflation. I do not think so. And most economists don’t think so,” he said. “But the idea that it caused inflation is bizarre.”

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In fact, Biden said the bailout “saved the economy.”

“Before, there were long queues, people in nice cars like we drive. Lined up just to have a box of food in their trunk,” he said.

“Pay the price”: Biden and his top aides misinterpreted the threat of inflation as warning signs gathered

Biden: McConnell is a ‘solid, traditional guy’

Asked about Republican opposition to most of his policies, Biden said there were few “mainstream, mainstream, conservative Republicans left.”

“And I include in that — and I’m going to get me in trouble, and I’m probably going to get him in trouble — but the Kentucky Minority Leader,” Biden said of Sen. Mitch McConnell. “He’s a solid, traditional guy.”

Biden pitted McConnell against “people from Texas” and those who are “very, very MAGA,” who check the names of senses Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rick Scott of Florida.

He suggested Republicans would pay a political price if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion. Even people who don’t support abortion rights, Biden said, will find it “really, really wacky” if women start getting arrested for crossing state lines to get abortions in states where they are still legal.

“There’s so many things these guys are doing,” Biden said, “that’s outside the mainstream of where the public is.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden: Americans ‘really, really depressed’ over pandemic, gas prices

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