“It’s Totally Expected”: Trump Shrugs Off Historic Unemployment Numbers

“There’s no surprise. Everybody knows it.”

Stefani Reynolds/ZUMA

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After spending nearly 20 minutes lashing out at familiar targets related to the Russia investigation, President Donald Trump used his appearance on Fox & Friends Friday morning to play down the significance of the newest jobs report, which revealed the US economy lost a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, the highest level of unemployment since the Great Depression. 

“It’s fully expected, there’s no surprise,” Trump said just as the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the grim numbers. “Everybody knows that.” He did not offer any messages of support or concern for the millions of Americans now unemployed.

“Somebody said, ‘Oh, look at this, even the Democrats aren’t blaming me for that,'” he continued. In fact, Democrats, as well as anti-Trump conservatives, have laid the blame for the tanked economy directly on his doorstep, arguing that a more aggressive and systematic approach to containing the spread of the novel coronavirus would have lessened the current economic catastrophe. It was just the latest example of the increasing disconnect between the stark reality of Trump’s botched coronavirus response and the magical thinking required to buoy the president’s campaign to present a rosy view of his administration’s performance amid the ongoing crisis.

Moreover, Trump’s insistence that Friday’s jobs report had been fully anticipated fails to square with his previous predictions that the crisis would “disappear” like a “miracle.” Nor do they track with top economic adviser Larry Kudlow’s forecast back in February that the US would avoid an “economy tragedy.”

“Those jobs will all be back and they’ll be back very soon,” Trump insisted, again ignoring warnings from economists that a recovery is nowhere close. “People are ready to go, we’ve got to get it open.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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