The latest US unemployment figures make for grim reading for US President Donald Trump as the 2020 US presidential election approaches quickly around the corner. Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for jobless benefits during the week ending March 21, according to the Department of Labor.
The main factor behind this surge in jobless numbers is the coronavirus epidemic that is spreading throughout the US. At least 93,151 people are known to have been infected with Covid-19 in the United States and the country has witnessed 1,382 die of the pandemic, as well as 2,424 recoveries. America now has more cases than China and Italy.
Needless to say, these statistics could not come at a worse time for Trump as his opponents prepare to mount political pressure on him to do more to combat the deadly virus.
Biden Has Called on Trump to Act More Like a Real Wartime President
In some ways, the Trump administration’s response to the virus has left the President politically vulnerable. Although CNN, Fox News and MSNBC did not air a speech that the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden made in which he launched a stinging attack against Trump for his response to the coronavirus, the Democrats have gone one step further and launched a campaign ad criticizing the President’s complacency over this issue.
Biden has called on Trump to act more like a wartime president and mocked his past remarks like “it’s going to disappear, one day it’s like a miracle it will disappear.” It also criticized the President for providing himself with a 10/10 score in the way he has handled the pandemic so far. Priorities USA Action, the largest Democratic Super Pac, says it will continue to run the ad.
A Crashing Economy and Testing Gap Will Hurt Trump
Furthermore, if the US economy does not reopen by Easter, which the President is hoping for, it will also provide his opponents with even more ammunition. Some media outlets have also attacked the Trump administration for its failure to provide broad testing for the virus that left the nation paralyzed to the extent of the crisis, and a dire shortage of masks and protective gear to guard doctors and nurses battling this virus on the front lines, as well as ventilators to keep the critically ill alive.
Despite this, the President has a lot to be happy about. Politico reported on an ABC/Washington Post poll that found whilst 58 per cent of Americans believe he was slow to respond to the pandemic, they generally approve of the job he has done so far.
Has Trump Been Too Relaxed?
Trump has responded to the coronavirus in a relaxed manner. His intention is not to spook investors at a time when the economy was surging before the epidemic shattered America’s economic growth. But as the rate of unemployment grows, the President’s electoral and economic fortunes now depend upon the $2 trillion stimulus package he has supported.
The bill provides four months of unemployment benefits. The maximum unemployment benefit would be increased by $600.
In order to combat the number of rising coronavirus cases, the legislation includes $100 billion for hospitals. According to The Hill, it will boost medical supplies in the Strategic National Stockpile as the country is facing a shortfall of ventilators, masks and swabs.
The Role of Health Insurance Companies
Health insurance companies will have to pay for coronavirus testing and increase funding for community health centers. It remains yet to be seen whether this bill will relieve the American economy and help those infected by the coronavirus, but it is the biggest financial gamble the President has made during his tenure so far. If it works his strategy will have proven to be successful: the higher the risk, the higher the reward.
The Trump administration’s response to Covid-19 has been slow and complacent. Unfortunately for him, Biden has plenty of ammunition to use against him. But all that will not matter as long as the President continues to score well in opinion polls. His electoral fortunes will also depend upon whether the number of coronavirus cases starts to slow and whether the stimulus rescues the economy. coronavirus or not, this will be an interesting year for American politics.