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Matthew A. Winkler

It Really Is Trump’s Fault

The coronavirus pandemic squashed all the advanced economies, but none so dismally as the U.S.

It didn’t have to be this bad.

It didn’t have to be this bad.

Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Updated on

President Donald Trump inherited the world's best economy in 2017 and helped make it one of the worst. The coronavirus pandemic would have made Americans miserable under any president, but it was Trump’s defiance of science, his muddled messaging and his incessant vitriol that has plunged the country into a swamp of joblessness, receding labor participation and slumping business confidence unseen in other developed nations. Trump's four years in office already measure up as the biggest economic disaster for any U.S. president in modern times, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

It didn't have to be this grim. Dozens of nations dealing with the same challenges are showing superior infection, death and unemployment rates and quicker business rebounds after shutdowns earlier this year. But Trump's disdain for antibody tests, contact tracing, social distancing and masks, among other prerequisites for containing the coronavirus, enabled the U.S. to lead the world in confirmed cases and deaths (though not in deaths per capita). Instead of peaking in late April with more than 30,000 daily new U.S. Covid-19 infections, the virus is resurgent in July — a stark contrast to such densely populated regions as Hong Kong, where Covid-19 retreated to insignificance within a month of its March high.