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Trump says congressional relief deal ‘is not going to happen’

Stock market near record high
By Masao Suzuki |
August 14, 2020
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San José, CA - With the additional $600 in unemployment benefits gone along with federal eviction protection, President Trump announced that a deal to restore the benefits and protect renters and home buyers “is not going to happen.” With tens of millions of people getting government aid, tens of thousands of evictions underway, and record numbers of people short on food, Trump’s statement may seem so beyond uncaring as to be almost senseless.

But his opposition to a deal makes sense from the privileged point of view of a man born to wealth who grew up to be a billionaire. The stock market, one of Trump’s favorite measures of the economy, has gained back almost all of its losses from when the recession began and is near record high levels. Big businesses like Amazon are doing great while thousands of small businesses fold up shop. Housing prices are up, as are purchases, while millions don’t know if they can make the rent or pay their mortgages.

And, as always, there are political considerations. If Congress were to make a deal, it would overshadow Trump’s executive orders. While Trump’s orders might help out the economy by about $100 billion, this falls far short of the Republican Senate’s proposed trillion-dollar ($1000 billion) aid package, much less the House Democrats $3.5 trillion HEROES Act. But without a deal, something might look better than nothing. And Trump is dead set against any deal that would help the U.S. Postal Service, thinking that suppressing mail-in votes will help him in the November election.

But for many working people, the economic crisis is going from bad to worse. There are still more than 28 million people getting government aid through regular state unemployment insurance, the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA for gig workers and the self-employed, and the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation or FEUC for the long-term unemployed.

The latest report on new applications for state unemployment insurance in the week ending August 8 did fall to 963,000. This is the first time the number has been less than a million since March. But it also still much higher than the previous record high in 2009. As other short-term indicators of employment do not show any improvement in the last few weeks, it is likely that many people are not bothering to file, now that the addition $600 through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation is gone. The number of people who have run out of the regular state unemployment insurance also continues to grow, as seen in the FEUC numbers that continue to rise.

Starting in May, the economy has recovered a bit less than half the jobs that it lost in March and April. But this recovery has mainly been among highest paid workers, who have regained almost all their lost jobs, while those making $20 an hour or less have seen their jobs numbers still down 16-20% as compared to before the pandemic.

African Americans and other oppressed nationalities were not only hit the hardest by job losses, but have seen fewer of their jobs come back. For Chicano, Latino and African American renters, more than 40% had little or no confidence that they could pay their rent in August. This was also seen in the housing bust leading up the 2008 financial crisis, where African American, Chicano and Latino, and Asian Americans were hit hardest by foreclosures and falling home prices.

Despite years of evidence to the contrary, Trump’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow continued to insist that “a rising tide does lift all boats.” But the reality is that Trump and his billionaire bros are riding out the economic tsunami on their yachts, while working people are seeing their livelihood, homes, and even meals being washed away.

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