Trump praises labor recovery, promises 10 mn jobs in 2021
Washington, Sep 7 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump said Monday that the United States is experiencing the “fastest economic recovery” in history and promised to create 10 million jobs in 2021 if he gets reelected, while his Democratic rival for the presidency, Joe Biden, sought to strengthen his support among the country’s unions.
“We’re in the midst of the fastest economic recovery in US history, so we have a lot to be thankful for,” Trump said during a nakedly political Labor Day speech delivered at the White House.
“The United States experienced the smallest contraction of any western nation … You look around and see how we’re doing compared to any other nation, our rise is spectacular, and we’re rebounding much more quickly from the pandemic,” the president added.
He emphasized that last month the US economy added 1.4 million jobs, with 10.6 million jobs having been created – or refilled – since May 2020.
The unemployment rate plunged, surprising many, the president said, to 8.4 percent in August, emphasizing that this is the second significant decrease in that indicator in a month.
Trump went on to say that in 2021 he will create 10 million jobs, at least during the first 10 months of the year, provided he wins reelection in November.
The unemployment index, which stood at 3.5 percent in February, the lowest level in half a century, skyrocketed to 14.4 percent in April, when the coronavirus pandemic hit the economy extremely hard, causing huge layoffs, and since then it has declined gradually as various states at least partially reopened their economies and businesses either hired new employees or brought laid-off workers back on the job.
The rate fell in August back below the 10 percent level, where it had stood in October 2009, when the US began to claw its way out of the Great Recession.
However, only about half of the 22 million jobs that have been lost during the pandemic have been recovered and it remains to be seen if Trump’s triumphalist message about the health of the economy convinces or resonates with undecided voters in the upcoming election.
Trump claimed that Biden and “radical Democratic socialists” would “immediately” cause the economy to collapse if the former vice president were elected president and took office in January 2021.
The president also emphasized the need for another aid package to help US workers and families, but he defended his decision not to meet with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in person to negotiate the details of such a pact, thus possibly cashiering any chance of striking such a deal.
“I know Pelosi, I know Schumer very well,” he said. “They don’t want to make a deal, because they think it’s good for politics if they don’t make a deal. … These are people that I don’t have a lot of respect (for). I don’t think they have a lot of respect for the American people. And I know who I’m dealing with. I don’t need to meet with them to be turned down.”
While the president was touting and taking credit for the macroeconomic figures, Biden focused his Labor Day message in particular on workers’ rights, accusing Trump of having launched a “war” on US unions.
“For years, President Trump and Republicans have waged a war on America’s labor unions. It will end on my watch,” said Biden on his official Twitter account.
“I’ll sign the PRO Act – making it easier for workers to organize and collectively bargain – and be the strongest labor president workers have ever had,” he added in the same tweet.
“It’s not enough to just thank our essential workers – we need to pay them. As president, I’ll: Raise the minimum wage to $15; End the tipped minimum wage; End the sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities; Ensure everyone has strong benefits,” Biden said in another tweet.
“Wall Street didn’t build this country – the middle class did. And unions built the middle class. Donald Trump doesn’t understand that. We need a president who does,” the former VP said in a third Labor Day tweet.
Meanwhile, Biden’s campaign communications director, Kate Bedingfield, said in a statement that Trump had shown over the past four years that he always puts corporate and Wall Street executives ahead of workers, adding that during the coronavirus pandemic the president is trying to cut funds for Social Security, is still trying to derail the so-called Obamacare health reform and is placing at risk the lives of millions of citizens.
Biden traveled to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a key state in the November election, to participate in a live online discussion – together with Richard Trumka, the president of the powerful AFL-CIO labor union with its more than 12 million members in both the public and private sectors – and respond to questions posed to them by members of various unions.
Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, also spent time on Monday trying to strengthen ties with unions during her first solo campaign appearance since she was selected to accompany the former VP on the Democratic ticket.