Top economists this week say it's certain the United States will face a recession in the next year. It's a blow to President Joe Biden, who's making moves to lower gas prices right before the mid-term elections.
On Wednesday the president told Americans he understands their economic pain, especially at the pump.
“Families are hurting. You've heard me say it before, but I get it,” Biden said in remarks at the White House.
The latest Bloomberg projections show a 100 percent chance of a recession in the next year. And one of the world's top credit rating agencies now says the US Gross Domestic Product will grow by just half a percent next year, down from earlier projections.
In recent weeks, gas prices have dropped. The average gallon costs $3.85, but that's up from $3.35 a year ago. It's bad math for families and the president as polls show his approval ratings track with prices at the pump.
On Wednesday, he announced that he will release 15 million barrels of oil from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help lower gas prices – all while denying any politics.
“It's not politically motivated at all. It's motivated to make sure that I continue to push on what I've been pushing on,” Biden told reporters after announcing the plan.
Conservatives quickly pushed back.
“Our reserves do not exist to win midterms. They exist to help this country in an emergency or in the midst of a storm,” said Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said.
American free-market policy analyst Phil Kerpen believes “the timing is extremely political.”
“Remember, this is the administration that basically begged Saudi Arabia to delay their production cuts by one month to get through the election,” said Kerpen.
Biden's move brings the nation's oil stockpile to its lowest level since 1984.
He pledged Wednesday to re-stock it when oil prices drop to less than $70 a barrel, saying that would give US companies the confidence to ramp up production. Still, in some mixed messaging, he scolded the companies for high gas prices.
“You should be using these record-breaking profits to increase production and refining,” said Biden.
Meanwhile, Americans are struggling as they fill up their cars, watch their retirement accounts shrink and interest rates soar. The federal reserve has jumbo-sized the rates to fight inflation, but may be paving the way for recession.
“I think it's unlikely that it can be avoided,” said Kerpen. “The question is how deep and how long it will be.”
The president's press secretary still says he does not anticipate a recession, citing new jobs and low unemployment.