Donald Lambro: The economy Trump left behind remains unhealthy

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Donald Trump has always bragged that the economy under his presidency was the best in U.S. history.

In fact, the shocking economic figures he has left behind in his bombastic presidential wake tell a far different story.

More than 15 million Americans are unemployed. Many of them are the ones you see standing in long lines at food banks, or on street corners, looking for a handout to purchase enough food to feed their kids.

Trump’s abysmal economic record has been part and parcel of his shocking mishandling of the covid-19 pandemic.

Instead of seriously dealing with it, as the medical community demanded, he callously dismissed it as something that would miraculously disappear on its own accord.

He’s still waiting for that to happen.

Among the jobless are 10 million Americans who lost their jobs early in the pandemic and remain unemployed to this very day.

The result: recession.

“The recession is when the economy is going down,” says Robert Gordon, an economics professor at Northwestern University, and a longtime member of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating Committee, which declares when our economy has entered a recession.

“The trough was clearly last April, with unemployment at 14.7% as half of the country fell into gridlock,” he said.

The U.S. Commerce Department recently reported that our economy grew at a disappointing 4% annualized rate in the fourth quarter last year.

But before you assume the economy is coming out of its recession, listen to what Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell thinks. The economy is still a “long way” from normal, he says.

Other recently released numbers also suggest that the economy is in even worse shape, after shrinking by 3.5% last year as the pandemic closed businesses throughout the U.S., says the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

“2020 has no precedent in modern economic history,” notes David Wilcox, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and a former director of the Fed’s domestic economics division.

It’s the first time the economy has contracted for the year since 2009. That’s when GDP (the nation’s gross domestic product) shrank by 2.5% in the Great Recession.

“Right now there are nearly 10 million people who lost a job in March and April and are still out of work.

That’s more unemployed than in October 2009,” writes economics reporter Heather Long.

And Professor Gordon adds this gloomy note about how long all this will last: “It’s not unusual for the economy to be in terrible shape during the first months or even years of the recovery,” he says.

The economic numbers are Trump’s legacy, tied to his handling of the pandemic amid his pursuit of a second presidential term. To this day, Trump still insists that he lost reelection due to fraudulent election conduct throughout the country — a baseless charge made without a shred of evidence.

In fact, a post-election poll by Trump campaign pollster Tony Fabrizio found that Trump’s loss was due largely to his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.

A 27-page document detailing why Americans voted the way they did showed that voters in 10 key states said the pandemic was by far their top voting issue.

Moreover, the poll’s findings, published in The Washington Post on Wednesday, showed that Democrat Joe Biden won significantly higher marks on that topic.

The states that were studied were Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas.

The poll found that 75% of the voters in those states overwhelmingly supported a mask mandate, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease specialist — and a proponent of wearing masks — received an approval rating almost as high.

Trump, who often criticized Fauci, did not support a mask mandate.

The results of the poll said that although Trump “dominated” among voters focused on the economy, “Biden won coronavirus voters, which was the bigger share.”

Donald Lambro has been covering Washington politics for more than 50 years as a reporter, editor and commentator.