Yellen says ‘threats on horizon’ could bring US closer to recession as Congress nears recess – live | US politics

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What some are calling Joe Biden’s “moment of truth” on the economy comes this week, with a number of key data indicators likely to paint a bleak picture for the president as Congress heads for summer recess and the midterm elections loom ever larger.

That’s why treasury secretary Janet Yellen and other White House figures have been prominent, attempting to talk up the strengths and resilience of the US economy while inflation rages at four-decade highs.

Janet Yellen.
Janet Yellen. Photograph: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

On Sunday, Yellen told NBC’s Meet the Press that, despite what she conceded were “threats on the horizons”, the US was not in recession:

You don’t see any of the signs now – a recession is a broad-based contraction that affects many sectors of the economy – we just don’t have that.

It’s a message Brian Deese, Biden’s senior economic adviser and director of the national economic council, was keen to reinforce in an appearance on CNN on Monday:

We have seen extraordinary resilience in this economy due largely to the resilience of our businesses and our consumers, but we need to take more action right now to make things more affordable.

In a tweet, Deese insisted that “hiring, spending and production data look solid”.

Their comments are widely seen as efforts to get ahead of bad news on the economy coming this week, starting with the consumer confidence index report coming tomorrow, an expected steep interest rate hike on Wednesday, then second quarter gross domestic product results the following day.

Analysts say the predicted interest rate rise by the Federal Reserve could help slow inflation, but fuel the recession risk at the same time.

It’s a gamble that Biden, whose popularity ratings are at term lows, is likely to support. In a CNN poll last week, only 18% of Americans described the nation’s economy as in good shape, while 82% said economic conditions are poor.

Tellingly, 75% said inflation and the cost of living were the most important economic problems facing their family, up from 43% last summer.

Impt context ahead of this wk’s Q2 GDP release:

The data will capture Apr-Jun economic conditions, ie backward looking

Hiring, spending, and production data look solid

CEA outlines why economists look broadly at data to assess the economy’s healthhttps://t.co/vzl38Z2g5E

— Brian Deese (@BrianDeeseNEC) July 24, 2022

The conservative National Review on Monday accused Biden’s economic team of being in “recession denial”, and predicted that official confirmation the US was in recession could come as early as Thursday when the second quarter GDP figures are released.

Key events

Biden’s Covid symptoms “almost completely” resolved

Joe Biden’s Covid-19 symptoms are “almost completely” resolved, his physician said in a memo on Monday, according to Reuters.

Biden tested positive for the virus last Thursday, and carried on working remotely. He is scheduled shortly to address remotely a gathering of black law enforcement executives.

In a White House memo released Monday morning, the president’s physician, Dr Kevin O’Connor, said: “When questioned, at this point he only notes some residual nasal congestion and minimal hoarseness”.

Biden, the memo said, is experiencing no shortness of breath, his blood pressure is normal, and he is continuing to take the prescribed antiviral Paxlovid.

First lady Jill Biden, who remained in Delaware while her husband was in Washington, tested negative for Covid-19 this morning, her office said.

While we’re (briefly) discussing Trump’s apparently falling star, another bête noire, congressman Adam Kinzinger, says the former president’s waning popularity is extending even to his formerly “hard core” supporters.

Adam Kinzinger.
Adam Kinzinger. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

The Illinois Republican and 6 January committee member made the comment on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, warning that “Trumpism isn’t dying, even though Trump is becoming irrelevant”.

Asked if he believed the 6 January panel’s revelations about Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat to Joe Biden was having any impact on colleagues, Kinzinger said:

Every day I ceased to be amazed at how much they’re willing to accept and not say anything. In terms of Republicans in general, you have kind of the bulk of Republican voters, this doesn’t appear to be having a ton of impact, maybe people are shifting more towards a potential for, I don’t know, a Ron DeSantis.

I’m hearing a lot of anecdotal stuff around the edges of people who have been hard core with Trump that now just can’t stand him… in like five years I still believe that it’s going to be hard to find somebody that will admit they were ever a Trump supporter.

Senator Joe Manchin has Covid-19

West Virginia’s Democratic senator Joe Manchin has Covid-19, he announced this morning on Twitter.

Manchin, who is vaccinated and boosted, said he was experiencing “mild symptoms” of the infection and was continuing to work remotely.

This morning I tested positive for COVID-19. I am fully vaccinated and boosted and am experiencing mild symptoms. I will isolate and follow CDC guidelines as I continue to work remotely to serve West Virginians.

— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) July 25, 2022

The announcement comes as Joe Biden, whose agenda Manchin has blocked in recent months, continues his own recovery after the president tested positive for Covid last week.

Biden is reportedly in much better condition this morning, and will address a gathering of black law enforcement executives at lunchtime remotely.

It’s not been a good few days for Donald Trump in media circles. Two prominent newspapers owned by one-time cheerleader Rupert Murdoch have turned against him, and one of the former president’s favorite bugles, the far-right One America News (OAN), has lost its last major US television platform.

My colleague Ed Helmore has this report on the New York Post issuing an excoriating editorial indictment of Trump’s failure to stop the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.

The editorial, in a tabloid owned by Murdoch since 1976, began: “As his followers stormed the Capitol, calling for his vice-president to be hanged, President Donald Trump sat in his private dining room, watching TV, doing nothing. For three hours, seven minutes.”

Trump’s only focus, the Post said, was to block the peaceful transfer of power.

“As a matter of principle, as a matter of character, Trump has proven himself unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again.”

Notable from the Murdoch-owned NY Post: “It’s up to the Justice Department to decide if this is a crime. But as a matter of principle, as a matter of character, Trump has proven himself unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again.” https://t.co/yiLjAVhDe6

— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) July 23, 2022

The Wall Street Journal, another Murdoch paper, issued a similar critique in which it said evidence before the House January 6 committee was a reminder that “Trump betrayed his supporters”.

Meanwhile, the Guardian’s Sam Levine reports Verizon Fios will no longer carry OAN from the end of this month, dealing a major blow to the network that has become a hotbed of misinformation.

Verizon was the largest pay-TV provider still carrying the OAN, according to the Daily Beast, which first reported the network was getting dropped. Verizon and OAN were unable to reach an agreement to continue providing the network and customers will not be able to access the service after 30 July.

The development means that OAN in effect will not have a major television platform in the US. DirecTV, a major revenue provider, announced it was dropping the network in April.

OAN is facing billion-dollar lawsuits from voting equipment vendors Dominion and Smartmatic over its false claims the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

Read more:

Harris takes lead on abortion rights push

Kamala Harris is in Indianapolis this morning, talking to lawmakers in her new role as spearhead for the Biden administration’s push to codify abortion rights into law.

According to Politico, the vice-president is taking the lead on what looks to be an uphill fight following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade abortion protections one month ago.

She is planning an “aggressive bid to elevate Democratic state legislators and governors on the abortion rights frontlines”, Politico says, claiming Harris recently told staff:

We need to make it a goal that we’re out in America three days a week.

In a bleak assessment of the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court decision, the Guardian’s Jessica Glenza reports today on the creation of a “dystopian American reality” and consequences “both chaotic and predictable”.

Alarmingly, activists are promising even more draconian restrictions to come.

Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research organization, told the Guardian:

Everything is super in flux right now. We’re looking at probably about 15m women living in a state with an abortion ban.

That number we expect to increase, because more states are looking to ban abortion – and we could see as much as half of the country without abortion access very soon.

Democrats lost their first attempt to enshrine abortion rights into federal law in May, West Virginia senator Joe Manchin crossing the aisle to join Republicans in voting down the measure.

A renewed effort passed the House of Representatives earlier this month, but was largely symbolic because of ongoing Republican resistance in the evenly-divided Senate, where it would need 60 votes to pass.

Harris’s upcoming tour is, Politico says, aimed more at securing action at state level. A poll taken in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision showed 62% of Americans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Read more here:

What some are calling Joe Biden’s “moment of truth” on the economy comes this week, with a number of key data indicators likely to paint a bleak picture for the president as Congress heads for summer recess and the midterm elections loom ever larger.

That’s why treasury secretary Janet Yellen and other White House figures have been prominent, attempting to talk up the strengths and resilience of the US economy while inflation rages at four-decade highs.

Janet Yellen.
Janet Yellen. Photograph: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

On Sunday, Yellen told NBC’s Meet the Press that, despite what she conceded were “threats on the horizons”, the US was not in recession:

You don’t see any of the signs now – a recession is a broad-based contraction that affects many sectors of the economy – we just don’t have that.

It’s a message Brian Deese, Biden’s senior economic adviser and director of the national economic council, was keen to reinforce in an appearance on CNN on Monday:

We have seen extraordinary resilience in this economy due largely to the resilience of our businesses and our consumers, but we need to take more action right now to make things more affordable.

In a tweet, Deese insisted that “hiring, spending and production data look solid”.

Their comments are widely seen as efforts to get ahead of bad news on the economy coming this week, starting with the consumer confidence index report coming tomorrow, an expected steep interest rate hike on Wednesday, then second quarter gross domestic product results the following day.

Analysts say the predicted interest rate rise by the Federal Reserve could help slow inflation, but fuel the recession risk at the same time.

It’s a gamble that Biden, whose popularity ratings are at term lows, is likely to support. In a CNN poll last week, only 18% of Americans described the nation’s economy as in good shape, while 82% said economic conditions are poor.

Tellingly, 75% said inflation and the cost of living were the most important economic problems facing their family, up from 43% last summer.

Impt context ahead of this wk’s Q2 GDP release:

The data will capture Apr-Jun economic conditions, ie backward looking

Hiring, spending, and production data look solid

CEA outlines why economists look broadly at data to assess the economy’s healthhttps://t.co/vzl38Z2g5E

— Brian Deese (@BrianDeeseNEC) July 24, 2022

The conservative National Review on Monday accused Biden’s economic team of being in “recession denial”, and predicted that official confirmation the US was in recession could come as early as Thursday when the second quarter GDP figures are released.

Good morning, politics blog readers. Joe Biden’s allies are scrambling to get ahead of what’s likely to be a troubling week of economic news for the White House, with Congress beginning to think about its August recess with little to no progress on the president’s economic agenda, and inflation at 40-year highs.

Treasury secretary Janet Yellen has been talking up the resilience and “historical strengths” of the US economy, and low unemployment, while conceding “threats on the horizon” could nudge the country closer to recession, just as the midterm elections loom.

We’ll get a snapshot of consumer confidence in a report tomorrow, while Wednesday is likely to bring a sharp hike in US interest rates that could help slow inflation, but fuel the recession risk.

Biden, whose popularity ratings are slumping, has plenty else on his plate. Here’s what else we’re watching today.

  • We’ll get the chance to gauge the progress of the president’s recovery from Covid-19 when he addresses the national organization of black law enforcement executives at 12.30pm.
  • Covid-19 will feature heavily at the White House press briefing. Pandemic response coordinator Dr Ashish Jha will join WH press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at the podium.
  • It’s the last full week in Congress before the August recess. Today, senators will discuss healthcare benefits for veterans episode to toxins, and vote to progress a bill providing grants to the computer chip industry.
  • There’s also a push to get the same-sex marriage bill through the Senate this week, after it passed the House with supports from dozens of Republicans last week.

We’ll bring you all the developments as they happen. Please stay with us…

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