WASHINGTON, D.C. — As President Donald Trump tries to help the nation navigate what he and his coronavirus response task force believe will be a devastating next couple of weeks for the number of newly reported infections, and, unfortunately, a rising daily death toll from COVID-19, he’s not receiving very good news on the economic front. This morning, the Department of Labor announced that more than 6 million people had filed unemployment claims in the last week. The Washington Post reported this morning’s statistics bring the total number of Americans to lose work due to the coronavirus to an astounding 17 million.
Economists are predicting that the jobless numbers suggest the country could be headed not just toward a recession, but potentially a depression.
“It looks like the unemployment rate is headed to 15 percent,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Bank, in a note to clients. “This isn’t a recession, it’s the Great Depression II.” (WaPo)
Despite early repeated warnings starting as early as last year that a pandemic outbreak of the virus could make landfall in the United States, the Trump administration waited for weeks to act. That lack of movement ended up costing Americans vital time to prepare, change their social behaviors, and perhaps even seriously blunt the rate of infections. President Trump and his surrogates have attempted to pin at least some of the blame for the less than stellar response to COVID-19 on the president being distracted by his impeachment, which House Democrats started at the end of last year.
The impeachment trial ended in early February, however, leading the president’s critics to point out that there was still time to do more than the administration did to prepare the American people for the coronavirus outbreak. By the time Trump did react to the mounting crisis, options were limited, and essentially a nationwide attempt to lockdown the populace to control the spread of COVID-19 has left the economy on the brink. It was announced last week that 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. At the time, it was by far the largest such spike in American history, it’s unclear at the moment whether this week’s numbers overshot the previous week’s.
Before the coronavirus shut down major parts of the economy, the highest week for claims was 695,000 in 1982. The Great Recession high was 665,000 in March 2009.
However, the sudden shutdown from social distancing policies caused a cascade of joblessness unlike anything the nation has ever seen. (CNBC)
As economists are now starting to wonder how deep a recession the entire world might find itself in, one of the president’s top propaganda advisers, Kellyanne Conway, was telling reporters on the White House lawn this morning that “there’s nothing to worry about” in the jobless claims. In fact, Conway said that “as usual, the mainstream Democrat media has the story completely backwards.” Unemployment claims, Conway argued, did not in fact go up.
“What happened is that in the past few weeks, almost seventeen million people filed for alternative employment, not unemployment,” Conway said confidently, and with a chiding tone toward the media. “Can your simple brains handle that, I wonder? The fact is that there’s nothing to worry about right now because, quite frankly, the Trump economy can easily handle 17 million Americans filing for alternative employment, bigly.”
Conway predicted that “no matter how many people find themselves filling out alternative employment papers,” the president will only become more popular. She believes that once the American people “truly understand how magnificent” Trump’s economy is, they’ll support him now matter how many millions more Americans “technically don’t have a job per se.” Conway insists that “true, red blooded, ammo hoarding patriots” will never worry about Trump’s economy, because they know one thing.
“He’s not a Democrat, and probably more importantly he’s not a black Democrat. So anything that goes well economically speaking, he gets credit for in their eyes,” Conway explained, “and anything bad that happens is clearly the result of some deep state coup or something. As long as our Dear President remains a Republican, and has the white — excuse me, right — skin tone, he can shoot the economy on 5th Avenue and make a nun lick a coronavirus test swab and they’ll cheer him on.”
Ms. Conway did indicate, however, that while the Trump economy is “poised and in a position to handle billions of alternative employment claims” if needs be, that Americans should still be “ready to rush out and work” as soon as possible. Conway worries that if businesses stay closed for too long, it could impact Trump’s re-election chances. That, she says, is “borderline unconstitutional.”
“Look, I’m not a constitutional scholar, so maybe I’m totally off base here,” Conway said, “but it’s pretty much law that every president gets at least two terms. If the economy somehow does suffer, and it suffers too much, our Dear President might lose this November. While he technically doesn’t have to give up the throne, if he doesn’t want to, it would just make for a big ol’ mess that he wants to avoid. So, please, everyone, when you’re ready, go back and work. What’s a few million of you alternatively living in gravesites matter when the rest of us are back to getting our Big Macs and Starbucks?”
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because Twitter is a cesspool.