The Post reports: “The staggering losses are roughly double what the nation experienced during the 2007-09 crisis, which used to be described as the harshest economic contraction most people ever endured.” The hopes for a “V-shaped” recovery (a sharp dive and a sharp recovery) have vanished. “Analysts warn it could take many years to return to the 3.5 percent unemployment rate the nation experienced in February,” The Post notes.
The enduring inequities in the United States are reflected in the jobs numbers: “The unemployment rate in April jumped to a record 18.9 percent for Hispanics, 16.7 percent for African-Americans and 14.2 percent for whites. Women had a higher unemployment rate than men.”
One cannot help but recall President Trump’s infamous campaign line in 2016 to African Americans: What have you got to lose? How about tens of thousands of lives lost, record unemployment and unequal justice in the form of the hugely disproportionate number of African Americans arrested for violating social distancing laws. “Of those arrested, 35 people were black, four were Hispanic and one was white,” the New York Times reports on Thursday night police action. “More than a third of the arrests were made in the predominantly black neighborhood of Brownsville. No arrests were made in the more white Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope.”
Despite the deaths of more than 75,000 Americans, the Great Depression-like unemployment numbers and the unprecedented disruption of every aspect of American life, Trump remains obsessed with the Russia investigation (heralding his attorney general’s decision to hand Michael Flynn a get-out-of-jail-free card) and is attacking the media, cheering unmasked protesters swarming in public places and insisting his performance has been exemplary. Never has the gap between Trump’s self-image and reality been so stark.
The jobs numbers deepen the predicament not only for Trump but for every down-ballot Republican. With 14.7 percent unemployment and state and local governments on the verge of more layoffs, Senate and House Republicans are urging Trump to oppose relief that would keep hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, public hospital nurses and doctors, teachers and other essential workers on payroll. A group of bizarrely tone-deaf conservatives in the House — including House Freedom Caucus Chair Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), as well as Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Van Taylor (R-Tex.), Russ Fulcher (Idaho), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Chip Roy (R-Tex.), Ben Cline (R-Va.) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.) — wrote to Trump pleading with him not to send money to their cash-strapped states and cities. The voters of Arizona, Colorado, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Idaho, Virginia and Pennsylvania should know that their representatives are happy to see even more of them unemployed (although Republicans happily supported $500 billion for large corporations).
In a sane world, mass death, record unemployment, vast inequality and reckless indifference to the lives and livelihood of Americans would result in mass resignation of those responsible for our crisis, beginning with Trump. Since that will not happen, the only alternative is for voters to kick out every Republican. We’ve found out just how much we had to lose by putting this crowd in power.