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Reporter uses top Biden adviser's own words to undercut attempt to redefine recession: 'What changed?'

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Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House was confronted Wednesday over previous comments a top Biden administration adviser made that contradicts the administration's narrative on "recession."

On Thursday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced the U.S. economy shrank 0.9% in the second quarter of 2022, thus meeting the standard definition of recession, which is two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, however, has not officially declared a recession.

What is the background?

In anticipation of the BEA's report, the White House has been downplaying the accepted definition of recession.

According to White House officials, two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth is not the "technical" definition.

Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, strongly reiterated this claim during the White House press briefing on Tuesday.

"Two negative quarters of GDP growth is not the technical definition of recession. It’s not the definition that economists have traditionally relied on," Deese said. "There is an organization called the National Bureau of Economic Research, and what they do is they look at a broad range of data in deciding whether or not a recession has occurred."

But what was said before?

In 2008, when he worked for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, Deese said the "technical" definition of recession is, in fact, two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction.

"What Senator Clinton has said is that of course economists have a technical definition of recession, which is two consecutive quarters of negative growth," Deese said in March 2008.

The comments were made as then-President George W. Bush tried to alleviate recessionary fears.

At the time and as Deese's comment reflect, Democrats seized on the moment to emphasize the unfortunate economic circumstances to help Democrats in the 2008 presidential election.

Anything else?

Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about the glaring contradiction on Wednesday, asking why the White House wants to "redefine" the word "recession" while at the same time downplaying the inflation crisis.

"If things are going so great, though, then why is it that White House officials are trying to redefine 'recession?'" Doocy asked.

When Jean-Pierre claimed the White House is not redefining recession, Doocy pulled out Deese's 2008 remarks.

"What changed?" Doocy asked. "What's the difference other than who the president is?"

Jean-Pierre, however, did not directly respond to the question, instead reiterating the Biden administration's recession narrative.

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