American Tragedy

"Builder" Trump promised to make America great. He turned it into a demolition site.

Chart: Alyson Hurt/NPR, based on information via Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Less than six months ago, on February 22, Donald Trump posted a video to Twitter in which he took full credit for the state of the economy, saying we were experiencing the “great American comeback,” and adding, “I’m very proud to be associated with it. We’ve never had anything like this before in the history of our country.”

He was, of course, full of shit.

In a series of articles I wrote here on Substack on January 2, January 10, January 22, February 4, and February 16, I laid out the many, many reasons why the US economy was “in deep trouble.” On February 23, I wrote another article, entitled The “Trump Boom” Goes Bust.

The Trump Recession began in February 2020

It wasn’t until June 2020 that the National Bureau of Economic Research confirmed that the Trump Recession officially began in February this year, bringing to an end the formidable Obama-Biden Recovery. Several months earlier, in July 2019, Fox Business confirmed that the Obama-Biden recovery had, in fact, broken the record to become the longest economic expansion in US history:

Just to recap: Starting in 2009, Obama and Biden rescued America from the Great Recession—and put us on the path to the longest economic expansion ever recorded. By February 2020, Trump was so jealous of Obama being given at least partial credit for the strength of “his” economy, he began stamping his feet insisting that it was all him, him, him.

But even as Trump was taking all the credit, he was too dim-witted to realize that, as the fourth year of his Presidency began, “his” economy was already—pre-lockdown—plunging into a recession. And within a few weeks things would be getting much, much worse.

The economy was weak as 2020 began.

After three year’s of Trump’s mismanagement, 2020 was always going to be a tough year for the U.S. economy. As the year began, most estimates were that growth would be <2%, far beneath the skyrocketing 5-6% growth Trump had promised his unnecessary tax cuts for corporations and the already-rich would deliver.

Trump’s trade wars had sent manufacturing into a full year recession in 2019 and plunged record numbers of farmers into bankruptcy (in Wisconsin alone, 818 dairy farmers went bankrupt in 2019). Meanwhile, the deficit was exploding and the $19.9 trillion debt Trump promised to eliminate completely in 8 years had, by the end of February, soared to $23.4 trillion. (It’s now $26.5 trillion.)

Things were looking desperate in February. Trump took the month off.

Like the Bin Laden memo given to Bush in August 2001, Trump received and ignored intelligence briefings about the impending coronavirus catastrophe in January. By February, though, the whole world was truly alert to the threat. By the end of that month, South Korea (which had its first case of COVID-19 on the same day as the US) was already offering drive-through testing.

Trump meanwhile, was his usual lazy, corrupt self for the whole month of February. He played a lot of golf, attended fundraisers that allowed him to visit and monetize his own properties in Florida and Las Vegas, and even threw in a trip to India too. And he called it all a hoax. At a MAGA rally on February 28, he downplayed the threat, saying: “The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. They're politicizing it. They don't have any clue… They tried the impeachment hoax… This is their new hoax.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s total incompetence was setting the stage for America to become the “Failed State” of the COVID-19 pandemic. Which, in turn, set the US economy on course for:

Absolute. Total. Disaster.

While densely populated South Korea (which had used widespread testing and contact tracing to flatten its curve without a lockdown) was both minimizing deaths and limiting its economic damage, things in Trump’s America were going from bad to worse to worstest.

As NPR reported:

The coronavirus pandemic triggered the sharpest economic contraction in modern American history…. Gross domestic product—the broadest measure of economic activity shrank at an annual rate of 32.9% in the second quarter as restaurants and retailers closed their doors in a desperate effort to slow the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 150,000 people in the U.S.

The economic shock in April, May and June was more than three times as sharp as the previous record— 10% in 1958 —and nearly four times the worst quarter during the Great Recession.

As a failed casino owner, Trump has always been too stupid to understand the complexities of today’s interconnected global economy. As a malignant narcissist, he’s also been quick to reassure families that their loved ones aren’t dying in vain if it helps his re-election.

Today, he’s no longer even pretending to empathize with the pain and suffering being experienced throughout the country he was elected to protect.

He golfed as the death toll passed 100,000.

This weekend, as the death toll surged passed 150,000, and following the death of Herman Cain, a man he told Twitter he “loved,” Trump golfed again.

That’s right. The man who promised to fix everything has crashed the economy. He’s bankrupted businesses large and small. He’s left millions of families in a state of fear and anxiety, not knowing how to pay the rent, or put food on the table, or when it will even be safe for their kids to go back to school.

And this weekend, even as tens of millions of Americans watched their coronavirus benefits and federal eviction protections expire, he advertised to the world just how little he cares about the American Tragedy he has caused.

He went golfing again.

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