White House: We Never Said We Weren’t In A Recession

Thursday, the White House acknowledged for the first time that the U.S. was in a recession. “Obviously, the NBER came out and said that we are in a recession,” Press Secretary Dana Perino said. Even though the National Bureau of Economic Research announced Monday that the U.S. was in a recession that had started in Dec. 2007, the White House was still refusing to use the word as late as Wednesday.

Yesterday, when a reporter remarked that the White House had been denying the recession for months, spokesman Scott Stanzel interrupted her to insist the Bush administration had never done so:

QUESTION: The President finally said, first time at a podium, that we are in a recession. This administration had been saying for months, from the very beginning of 2008, that we weren’t. Who —

STANZEL: No, that’s not correct. That —


QUESTION: You said that —

STANZEL: — what we had said is that is a determination that’s made by the National Bureau of Economic Research. And as you know, they made that determination this week. So we are in a recession.

Watch it:

The reporter was right: For nearly a year after the recession started, the Bush administration has repeatedly and emphatically insisted the U.S. was not in a recession and would avoid falling into one:

– “The administration economists are not forecasting a recession.” [White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, 1/23/08]

– “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 don’t think any of the analysts are saying that” the U.S. has been in or is entering recession. [Perino, 7/31/08]

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

– “I just haven’t heard anybody talking necessarily about a recession.” [Perino, 9/5/08]

– “Well, we’ve talked about the definition of a recession before; it’s two consecutive — it’s generally considered two consecutive quarters of negative growth. We certainly haven’t had that.” [Perino, 9/17/08]