Americans are “really, really down” after two years of a pandemic and rising gasoline prices, but the economy is in better shape than many believe, according to President Joe Biden.

Biden told the Associated Press in a rare interview that a recession is not inevitable and that there is “zero evidence” that the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package is a major reason for high prices.

“If it’s my fault, why is inflation higher in every other major industrial country in the world? You’re asking yourself that? I’m not acting wisely,” Biden stated. “That is a question that someone should ask themselves.”

Some economists predicted that the money pumped into the economy by the American Rescue Plan last year would cause inflation. Republicans have relentlessly chastised Biden over the plan’s cost.

However, Biden claims that under his leadership, employment and wages have increased, and people have less credit card debt, more money in their savings accounts, and higher job satisfaction.

He also mentioned recent federal deficit reductions. The decrease is largely due to the termination of costly COVID-19 programs, such as expanded unemployment insurance, as well as increased tax revenues from recent economic growth.

According to polls, Americans are concerned about the economy and give Biden low marks for leadership.

According to a new USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll, only 39% of Americans approve of Biden’s performance as president. More than seven out of ten people, or 71 percent, believe the United States is “on the wrong track.”

Biden stated that the majority of the turmoil people are experiencing is a “result of the COVID crisis.”

He also blamed “the previous administration’s failure to act on COVID,” which he claimed had a “significant impact on the number of people who got COVID and the number of people who died.”

Americans were “much more optimistic” until gas prices began to rise, which he blamed on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden said he made it clear that “there was going to be a price to pay” for helping Ukraine, but not acting would have been worse.

When asked about the political risk he now faces as a result of higher gas prices, as well as whether Americans have a daily sense of the national security stakes he described, Biden said most households are just trying to figure out how to put food on the table. But, as president, Biden continued, he must be willing to make difficult decisions regardless of the political consequences.

Anyone who hasn’t decided “what’s worth losing over” should avoid politics, he says.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently acknowledged that the expanded child tax credit included in the relief package increased demand and may have resulted in a “marginal” increase in food prices. Biden dismissed the possibility.

When asked about Republican opposition to the majority of his policies, Biden stated that there are few “traditional, mainstream, conservative Republicans left.”

“And I include in that — and I’m going to get myself in trouble, and I’ll get him in trouble, probably — but the minority leader from Kentucky,” Biden said of Sen. Mitch McConnell. “He’s a solid, mainstream guy.”

Biden compared McConnell to “the folks from Texas” and those who are “very, very MAGA,” mentioning Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and Florida Sen. Rick Scott.

He suggested that if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion, Republicans will pay a political price. Even those who oppose abortion rights, according to Biden, will find it “really, really out of the ordinary” if women are arrested for crossing state lines to seek abortions in states where they are still legal.

“There are so many things these guys are doing that are outside of the mainstream of where the public is,” Biden said.