• By The Financial District


Analyst Ryan Zamarripa of the Center for American Progress (CAP) has criticized President Donald Trump for the raging COVID-19 pandemic and its catastrophic economic fallout, saying his inaction and misdirection caused the ongoing tragedy. 

Writing for Just Security, an online journal published by the Reiss Center on Law and Security of the New York University School of Law, Zamarripa said in his article “Mass Job Losses and Other Economic Costs of President Trump’s Inaction on Coronavirus” that because of Trump’s failure to make good on his “I alone can fix it” boast “US has been plunged into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Annualized gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by a crushing 31.7 percent in the second quarter of 2020—easily the largest recorded drop in American history. 11.5 million jobs have been lost since February, and slowing job growth is pointing to a stalled recovery. Communities of color are bearing the brunt of the economic fallout, with Black, Latino, and Asian unemployment rates consistently higher than that of their white counterparts.” 

Zamarripa argued the economic crisis was not inevitable but Trump slept and bragged “I don’t take any responsibility at all” for the COVID-19 pandemic that has already killed 196,000 Americans since late January 2020 and the economy shuttered and the recession set in. “International comparisons, while imperfect, can illustrate just how much worse the recession is in the US compared to other countries. As demonstrated by the experiences of peer nations, a rapid and coordinated public health response could have contained the pandemic more effectively and reduced the mounting economic losses,” he added. “South Korea, which recorded its first case of COVID-19 on the same day as the US, largely avoided shutting down its economy. In July, its harmonized unemployment rate, a metric calculated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to enable the comparison of unemployment figures across countries, was 4.2 percent—just 0.9 percentage points higher than it was in February. The US, on the other hand, registered an unemployment rate of 10.2 percent in July—higher than any point reached during the Great Recession and 6.7 percentage points higher than where it was in February. 

Zamarripa said there is evidence suggesting that the fear of the virus’s spread led to an economic slowdown before stay-at-home orders were even in place. As early as February, real-time data show a marked decline in spending on high-contact activities. From mid-January to mid-March, consumer spending on (i) transportation, (ii) entertainment and recreation, and (iii) restaurants and hotels declined by 24 percent, 24 percent, and 9 percent, respectively. Spending on groceries, on the other hand, surged by 43 percent over the same time period, indicating a clear acknowledgement of the health risks of venturing out of the home and economic belt-tightening.

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