For Nearly A Year After Recession Started, Bush White House Insisted That ‘We’re Not In A Recession’

Earlier today, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) announced that “the U.S. has been in a recession since December 2007, making official what most Americans have already believed about the state of the economy.” The group, which the White House has previously pointed to as the determinative body for declaring a recession, said in a statement that the “decline in economic activity” after Dec. ’07 “was large enough to qualify as a recession.”

White House Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto commented on the news “without ever actually using the word ‘recession.’” Instead, Fratto released a statement saying the White House was focused on what they “can do for the economy right now.”

It’s not surprising that Fratto would avoid the word “recession.” Though economic analysts and experts were predicting in late 2007 and early 2008 that the U.S. economy was likely to face a recession, Fratto declared on Jan. 8, 2008, “I don’t know of anyone predicting a recession.” This wasn’t the only time that the Bush administration dismissed the idea of a recession during the same period that NBER now says a recession was underway:

– “We don’t believe we’re going to have a recession though.” [Vice President Dick Cheney, 1/30/08]


– “I think the experts will tell you we’re not in a recession.” [President Bush, 2/10/08]

– “The answer is, I don’t think we are in a recession right now.” [Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Edward Lazear, 2/11/08]

– “First of all, we’re not in a recession.” [President Bush, 4/22/08]

– “The data are pretty clear that we are not in a recession.” [Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Edward Lazear, 5/7/08]

– “I don’t think we are” in a recession. [Director of the National Economic Council Keith Hennesy, 6/3/08]

– “I think we have avoided a recession.” [White House Budget Director Jim Nussle, 7/31/08]

– “I don’t think anybody could tell you right now if we’re in a recession or not” [Dana Perino, 10/7/08]

Less than a month ago, Fratto said that it was “irrelevant” for the White House to admit that the U.S. is in a “recession.” The recession is official now, but Fratto appears to still think admitting it is “irrelevant.”


Bloomberg’s Timothy Homan and Steve Matthews note that NBER’s finding means that this recession is “already the longest since 1982.”