The Corner

White House

Biden Did Not Inherit the ‘Worst Economic Crisis Since the Great Depression’

President Joe Biden speaks at the White House in Washington, D.C., April 20, 2021. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

The White House has released excerpts ahead of President Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress, and it includes this amazing claim:

100 days since I took the oath of office—lifted my hand off our family Bible—and inherited a nation in crisis. The worst pandemic in a century. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.

Had Biden taken office in April of 2020, he may have been able to claim the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. But claiming the economy was the worst in 90 years at the time he was sworn in has no basis in reality.

It’s true that last spring, the unemployment rate had hit 13.3 percent. But in January 2021, it had been cut in half, and was 6.3 percent. You don’t have to go back to the 1930s to find that kind of joblessness — the unemployment rate was higher than 6.3 percent for the first five years of the Obama-Biden administration.

It’s true that the economy contracted severely in last year’s second quarter. But in the third quarter of 2020, real GDP increased 33.4 percent. And in the fourth quarter — which concluded just before Biden took office — growth was 4 percent.

The economy has seen better days. But Biden took office when the pandemic was a few weeks past its peak, when the administration of two safe and effective vaccines had already exceeded a million a day, and when many states were starting to relax lockdown rules. It was not 1933.

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