New Hampshire’s Republican governor called on President Joe Biden to fire Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday, claiming the official ‘misled America’ on the state of the economy in the face of an incoming recession.
Governor Chris Sununu accused Yellen of failing to own up to the gloomy economic forecast after she said in a speech last month that she expected the economy to slow down in the coming months but a recession was not ‘at all imminent.’
‘Recession is coming,’ the moderate Republican firmly told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.
It comes as a new poll shows a majority of Americans believe a recession is already here – and a whopping 96 percent said they feel at least some impact from decades-high inflation jacking up the cost of living across the country.
Meanwhile, the president is spending the weekend biking near his holiday home of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. He was photographed in a navy blue shirt, black shorts and Ray-Ban sunglasses, biking with his Secret Service entourage.
Taking aim at the president’s legislative action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Sununu said: ‘You cannot add $5 trillion onto America’s balance sheet and just hope it goes away.’
The figure appears to refer to the combined total of two stimulus bills, passed by Donald Trump and Joe Biden respectively, to jumpstart markets that had been halted for two years by the global pandemic.
Republican lawmakers have claimed that the packages – in particular, Biden’s – had been responsible for overstimulating the economy and driving inflation up to its recent 40-year high of 8.6 percent.
New Hampshire’s Republican Governor Chris Sununu criticized the Biden administration for downplaying the state of the economy for months before acknowledging the impacts of inflation.
Sununu suggested that Biden officials had seen a recession on the horizon for months before the current panic, and criticized them for downplaying the problem rather than implementing the solutions they are putting into action now.
‘The [Federal Reserve], I think, has known this for a while. They kind of ignored it. They should have been easing us into the right rates and where we needed to go over a year ago,’ he said, referring to the Fed’s recent action on interest rates.
‘You had a Treasury Secretary who was saying, oh, well, it’s not inevitable.’
He continued, ‘Well, of course, it’s inevitable. You don’t need four years at Dartmouth economics to know that, when you add that $5 trillion, there has to be some outcome.’
Asked what he would do to ease the current economic strain, Sununu said bluntly: ‘Look, first, I would fire the Treasury Secretary.’
“I think she’s completely misled America, because she didn’t want to share the bad news.” But that’s part of public service. You got to own the good with the bad,’ the governor said. ‘But the more this administration keeps telling people that a recession isn’t inevitable, of course it is.’
He warned that the burden would present itself at ‘the toughest times,’ such as when families and people on fixed incomes have to heat their homes in the winter or pay for gas at the pump.
‘We have high energy prices now. It costs twice as much to fill your gas tank. It costs about twice as much to create baseload generation,’ Sununu said. And all of that really comes to bear. And it’s not going away anytime soon.’
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is at home at his beachside residence in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Biden waved to reporters while he was seen biking with a Secret Service security detail
He briefly spoke to the press about the battle to expand abortion access in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned
A new poll from The Economist/YouGov released on Saturday would suggest that Sununu’s reading on Americans is correct.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents to the early July survey said they believe the US is currently in a recession, compared to just 19 percent who said it was not. Roughly a quarter were uncertain.
Most people (51 percent) see high prices for goods and services as the strongest indicator of a recession, suggesting that Americans are having a harder time keeping up with the cost of living.
Meanwhile, both progressives and Republicans are increasingly unhappy with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen
The second-most chosen indicator was the unemployment rate and job market – both of which are relatively healthy, although gains there have been eclipsed by the rapidly increasing consumer price index.
Biden’s Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo defended her boss’ administration and said the economy was ‘strong’ despite soaring inflation on Sunday.
‘Obviously it’s frustrating. You know, if you were to ask me what I think of the economy, I’d say that it’s a very strong economy, you know?’ she said on NBC’s Meet The Press.
‘Unemployment is down. We’ve recovered all the jobs since lost in the pandemic. People’s household balance sheets are strong. However, when you go to the grocery store, prices are high. When you fill up your car at the tank, prices are high. And so consumers, Americans are feeling that.’
While pledging to have a ‘laser focus’ on bringing down high prices in May, Biden’s leadership has largely consisted of allowing Yellen and Fed Chair Jerome Powell a wide berth to navigate the economic uncertainty.
Meanwhile, gas prices climbed to daily record-highs in June before dropping off and gradually decreasing again, although the average cost remains above $4 per gallon in all 50 states.
The most recent inflation data from May shows that the average cost of consumer goods saw its highest increase since 1981.
According to Saturday’s poll, just four percent of people said they were not feeling any effects from inflation.
Fifty-eight percent said they felt its personal impact ‘a lot’ and 38 percent said they were ‘somewhat’ impacted.