Erica Payne, founder of Patriotic Millionaires, wrote an enlightening editorial recently detailing how U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, the former speaker of the House in North Carolina, gutted the North Carolina unemployment system in 2013, leaving one million jobless workers hungry and homeless with no safety net.
Under our anemic system, the unemployed wait months to be approved for a weekly benefit far below the national average. It was a recipe for disaster, cooked up by greedy big business interests and served by Republican legislators under Tillis.
A friend whom I used to think was on the right side of right recently told me he supports Donald Trump because, he said, “He (Trump) did what he said he would do.” I’m puzzled: Did Trump turn over his tax returns, as promised? Did he get Mexico to pay for his wall? Or, bring manufacturing back to America?
What Trump has done is transfer billions of our country’s wealth to his 1% cronies: the richest of us, who don’t need the money for anything but bragging rights. “I’m richer than you!” Minimum wage earners — the people who most need the money and who we most need — don’t get anything from him. The little guys in the stock market get bits and pieces, but the big money goes to the top.
Under Trump, we have increased our national debt to $26 trillion — that’s more than $80,000 for every man, woman and child in this country. He is running this country into the ground, just as he does his businesses. It’s his “smash and grab” plan: He grabs what he can and leaves everyone else holding the bag.
Nine million people are unemployed — down from 40.3 million at the end of May, when coronavirus restrictions were eased, but still near the rate of the past two recessions. April’s unemployment rate — more than 14% — was the highest since the Great Depression. We have the worst record in the world for handling the virus: 191,000 dead, and more dying at the rate of 4,000-6,000 per week. More than 6 million sickened. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses closed permanently. But Trump shows no concern: “It is what it is,” he says.
Yes, it is: incompetence at the highest level. Trump likes to say we have the best economy in history. No, we don’t. Economic growth under Trump for the fourth quarter of 2019 — before COVID-19 — was 2.1%, a significant drop from the 5.5% under former President Barack Obama. Real wage growth under Trump is 0.6% — less than 1%. Household income increased under Obama and continued under Trump, but at a slower rate. Household income can hardly be described as “soaring.” What we have really seen is a great transfer of wealth — from government to the rich. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Team Trump, according to Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell, has fostered a false narrative that “Trump inherited a recession and magically turned it into a boom.” That is, in fact, the exact opposite of the truth.
The previous Republican administration saddled us with enormous debt and worldwide condemnation for our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama inherited a country in recession. He pulled us out of it and put us on solid economic footing with the longest economic expansion in history, and Trump has turned it into a bust.
Peter Navarro, assistant to the president and director of trade and manufacturing policy, has called Trump “the greatest jobs president in history.” But, by the numbers, Trump is the worst jobs president in history. In fact, Trump will be the first president in history to leave the presidency with fewer jobs than he began with.
The Congressional Budget Office has said it will take two years for us to recover the number of jobs we had when Trump was inaugurated. Trump’s National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow says that under former Virc President Joe Biden we would have “dark days of stagnation, recession and pessimism.” No, Peter. That’s what we have now under Trump.
At the Republican National Convention, Trump and his cronies claimed they had built the “strongest, “best,” “greatest” economy ever. The problem with those claims is that they are not true: Under Trump, employers added an average of 185,000 jobs per month prior to the pandemic, while under Obama, they added 216,000 per month.
Some promote a “trickle down” economy as benefiting all, and it does: A rising tide floats all boats. But when CEOs and shareholders take a disproportionate share of profits while holding down the wages of line workers, little trickles down to line workers — the most essential part of our economy. When economic disparity gets too great, low-wage earners raise up in protest. That’s what we’re seeing now.
The economy Trump brags about is Obama’s.
Martha A. Johnson is a resident of Elizabeth City.