President Donald Trump says he resuscitated Barack Obama’s gasping economy and proceeded to build it to its strongest in generations. Now as record job losses mount across the country, the decline will bear his name in history as well. And those losses come just six months before the election. Presidents of both parties take credit for the economy when it’s roaring and are usually blamed when it fails, regardless of the circumstances of the downturn. An unemployment rate for April of 14.7%, the highest since the 1930s, is difficult for any politician to keep at arm’s length.
The collapse robs Trump of his chief argument for re-election and will fuel his drive to quickly “reopen” the U.S economy, even as solid majorities of Americans are reluctant to return to public life.
“We’ve got to get our economy open for the good of the people. But I do think if we get a recovery going in September and October, and people feel like things are going in the right direction, that the American people will” return Trump to the White House, said Stephen Moore, an economist who backs Trump and who participated in an April call among the president and industry leaders on reviving the country.
“If we don’t get the economy reopened, we go into November with a severe recession, then you’re looking probably at a President Joe Biden,” Moore said. Friday’s job report numbers reinforce Thursday’s report of new unemployment insurance claims, which showed that more than 33.5 million people lost their jobs in the seven weeks since the Covid-19 crisis halted huge swaths of the economy.