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Biden officials say recession isn’t ‘inevitable,’ gas tax holiday remains a possibility

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WASHINGTON – Biden administration officials Sunday tried to ease the minds of Americans who fear a recession is near.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on ABC’s “This Week” that a recession is not inevitable, with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, echoing her on other programs. 

Granholm said that one of the biggest causes of inflation is the high cost of gas. She acknowledged that suspending gas tax is a possibility, but it’s a complicated issue. 

“Part of the challenge with the gas tax, of course, is that it funds the roads, and we just did a big infrastructure bill to help fund the roads,” Granham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” So “if we remove the gas tax that takes away the funding that was just passed by Congress to be able to do that.”

Yellen called a gas tax holiday “an idea that’s certainly worth considering.”

She said President Joe Biden is “ready to work with Congress” to bring costs down.

“If Congress will work with him to enact some of the administration’s programs, we can bring down other costs that are burdening households, like prescription drugs, health care costs, and increase the supply of affordable housing,” Yellen said. 

Deese said on CBS’ “Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan” the administration is working with congressional leadership on legislation that would get economic relief to Americans in coming weeks, such as lowering the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration admitted it was wrong to downplay the threat of rising inflation last year as the White House works to combat rising consumer prices that have hampered Biden’s presidency. 

Yellen, in March 2021, said inflation posed only a “small risk.” Two months later, she said she didn’t anticipate inflation would “be a problem.” Earlier that spring, Biden signed his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue plan into law, providing a boost in spending that his critics blame for accelerating inflation. 

“As I mentioned, there have been unanticipated and large shocks to the economy that boosted energy and food prices, and supply bottlenecks, that have affected our economy badly that I, at the time, didn’t fully understand,” Yellen told CNN. “But we recognize that now.”

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