Yesterday on CNN’s late edition, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers Edward Lazear told host Wolf Blitzer, “We are seeing what I think anyone would characterize as a recession in certain parts of the country.” Watch it:
Today, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke echoed Lazear’s sentiments, saying that the nation is facing “a serious slowdown in the economy with serious consequences for the public,” but stopped short of labeling the downturn a recession.
But during a press briefing on Air Force One today, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino dismissed Lazear’s and Bernanke’s concerns. She argued instead that there are always “some regions” of the nation that are “hurting”:
PERINO: I think what [Lazear] was saying is that there are parts of our country that are hurting right now. … Economic cycles always have — someone is on the up and someone is on the down, even when you have a country that experienced, as we did, 52 consecutive months of job growth, you end up with some regions of the country not doing as well as others.
Earlier this month, Perino claimed, “I don’t think anybody could tell you right now if we’re in a recession or not.” But former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker said last week, “[T]he economy, I believe, is in recession” and Steve Forbes said similarly that “we’re in a recession, a very serious recession.” Furthermore, a recent poll by the Wall Street Journal found that a majority of American economists believe the U.S. economy is currently in a recession.
Explaining how to stave off further decline, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote bluntly last week, “[W]e need major stimulus programs.” Bernanke said today that planning for such stimulus is “appropriate,” while Perino said only that the president is “open” to the idea.