In Focus: Trump’s Disastrous Coronavirus Response, Volume #7
May 8, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic in the United States continues to worsen because of President Trump.
Volume #7: The Catastrophic Economic Impact Of Trump’s Failure To Prepare
75,000 people are dead, nearly ⅕ of young children across our country are not getting enough food to eat, and over 33 million American workers are out of work — 20% of our workforce.
Trump failed to prepare us for this pandemic and we now have the worst economy in a generation — not as a result of coronavirus, but as a result of his failure to prepare and contain coronavirus.
It didn’t have to be so bad. Other countries that were better prepared and more competently led have succeeded in controlling the pandemic — look no further than South Korea, which is reopening with a small fraction of deaths and infection rates despite having had its first confirmed case on the same day as the United States.
No one can credibly argue this public health crisis, and the economic collapse that has ensued, was not severely worsened by Trump’s wholly inadequate federal response, which was a catastrophic failure for numerous reasons, including:
- Trump created an economy that was especially vulnerable to the coronavirus outbreak and that favored the wealthy and big corporations over working families, who have only fallen further behind and had no buffer when crisis hit.
- Trump downplayed the crisis to protect his relationship with China over his partial trade deal that has gone largely unfilled. His failure to immediately address the testing shortage had dire consequences. As a result, more people are sick, more people have died, and there is exponentially higher disruption to our economy and lives. Not only that, but farmers who were already struggling because of Trump’s reckless trade policies are hurting more than ever as most of Trump’s bailout money goes to big corporate farms and his China trade deal promises haven’t been met.
- When Trump did finally take action, he put corporations first. Trump fought for coronavirus relief to go to CEOs, not hardworking families who are struggling to get by. And he’s giving hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency aid to big corporations without any requirements that they use the money to help their workers — just like he did with his tax law.
Take a look at his record so far:
Trump went soft on corporations and refused to use the full power of the Defense Production Act, making the crisis worse than it needed to be.
- Trump squandered critical time instead of using the Defense Production Act to ramp up production and coordinate distribution of medical supplies after caving to lobbying from big corporations — worsening the dangerous shortage of supplies.
- Trump’s refusal to lead a coordinated purchase and distribution of testing supplies and PPE has created chaos and made it more difficult for states to get supplies by forcing them to bid against each other and the federal government.
Trump provided economic relief that overwhelmingly benefitted big corporations without providing oversight or protections to ensure the funds will help workers.
- Trump removed the inspector general charged with overseeing the CARES Act, undermining oversight and transparency safeguards that would have ensured relief money was not being given to Trump cronies or biased toward big corporations.
- Trump’s administration botched the rollout of the Paycheck Protection Program, failing to provide clear guidance on the lending process or clarity on who was eligible. As a result, weeks after applying, many small businesses still haven’t been able to get their loans as big corporations and well-connected companies got loans instead, and PPP loans have not gone to the hardest hit areas.
- The Trump administration is distributing $500 billion in emergency aid to big corporations, without requiring them to preserve jobs or limit executive pay — exactly like the Trump tax law, and we all know how that turned out.
- Trump’s coronavirus bailout money has mostly gone to the largest farms, leaving small farms increasingly threatened with extinction.
Trump created a fragile economy that was especially vulnerable to the downturn that resulted from the coronavirus outbreak.
- U.S. manufacturing was already on unstable footing when the coronavirus hit. U.S. manufacturing was in a mild recession for the entirety of 2019, and now, the weakened manufacturing and transportation sectors have slowed the supply of vital products amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- Farmers were struggling because of Trump’s reckless trade policies and false promises about increased purchases. Farm bankruptcies increased by nearly 20 percent in 2019, and Trump’s own Department of Agriculture said that it expected farm debt in 2020 to rise to a record $425 billion.
- The retail industry cut more than 75,000 jobs last year and closed more than 9,300 stores, a huge spike from the previous year.
Like his coronavirus response, Trump’s economy favored big corporations as working families got left further behind — and it’s only getting worse.
- While more than 33 million Americans are out of work because of the coronavirus outbreak, about half of Americans were already living paycheck to paycheck and many were worrying daily about being able to pay their bills, as household debt hit a record high of $14 trillion at the end of 2019.
- Corporations racked up $19 trillion in debt that made the economy more vulnerable to a downturn after spending the money they got from Trump’s tax cuts on stock buybacks for themselves and their wealthy shareholders. Despite Trump’s promises, corporations did next to nothing to boost workers’s paychecks.
There are very real consequences to the laundry list of Trump’s ill-preparedness and bad policy. More people are sick, more people have died, and there is exponentially higher disruption to our economy and lives.
We can’t trust Trump to rebuild our economy because we’ve already seen what his failed leadership looks like – an arbitrary and politically motivated effort that does not do nearly enough to protect workers. We’ve suffered the consequences. We know he’s not fighting for us. Americans deserve better.