Joe Biden has been slammed for taking a vacation to the Virgin Islands while the US suffers devastating storms with the economy appearing on course for recession.
The president, 80, and grandson Hunter, 16, hit balls on the 18-hole course at the Buccaneer Beach and Golf Resort in the town of Christiansted on St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands.
The course offers spectacular views of the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea and the island’s coastline. The president wore a white polo shirt, blue cap and dark-coloured shorts in the 80-degree (26 degrees Celsius) weather.
However, as the President practiced his swing on the tropical island paradise, much of the US was recovering from the worst winter storms seen in decades.
“Joe Biden hard at work in the Virgin Islands following some of the most devastating winter storms to hit the US in decades, and as the American economy heads towards recession,” former aide to Margret Thatcher and political commentator Nile Gardiner said in a tweet.
The snow and ice which battered the majority of the country has left at least 60 dead and disrupted holiday travel plans, with many snowed in as thousands of flights were cancelled.
Some of the dead became trapped in their vehicles, unable to continue driving or escape due to the intense blizzard.
The US economy also appeared to be entering dire straights with some of the worst yearly stock market losses since the 2008 financial crash.
Stocks struggled all year as inflation put increasing pressure on consumers and raised concerns about a slide into recession. Central banks raised interest rates to fight high prices.
The Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes remain a major focus for investors as the central bank walks a thin line between raising rates enough to cool inflation, but not so much that they stall the US economy into a recession.
However, the St Louis Federal Reserve Bank released a report last week suggesting 26 out of 50 states in the US showed signs of slowing economic activity, a key threshold for predicting the country as a whole is poised to enter a recession.
Several big updates on the employment market are on tap for the first week of 2023. It has been a particularly strong area of the economy and has helped create a bulwark against a recession.
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That has made the Fed’s job more difficult, though, because strong employment and wages mean it may have to remain aggressive to keep fighting inflation. That, in turn, raises the risk of slowing the economy too much.
Biden will be back from his vacation to preside over what he likely hopes will be good numbers on the unemployment front.
On Friday, the President and his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, taped an interview to air Saturday night on ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest. They also took Hunter and his sister, Natalie, out for dinner at one of the island’s top restaurants.
When reporters outside the restaurant asked Biden about the 2024 presidential election, he joked, “There’s an election coming up?” He went on to say that “2023 is going to be a good year”.
The President will return to the White House from St Croix on January 2.