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Lewis Morris / Aug. 18, 2020

Dems Exploit COVID Collateral Damage

It's all playing into the leftist narrative that Donald Trump's America is unfair and cruel.

The China Virus, skillfully exploited by the American Left, has wreaked havoc on the economy. To be sure, employment and GDP numbers are bouncing back and the stock market is making impressive gains, but that doesn’t paint a complete economic picture. A deeper look at the post-COVID fallout tells a more disturbing tale.

The wealthiest Americans, those at the top of the Fortune 500, have made serious bank in the last several months. America’s top five billionaires (who all happen to be Yuge Democrat donors) — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, and Larry Ellison — collectively grew 26% richer since March. That’s $101.7 billion in total, with $43.8 billion going to Bezos alone. (When everyone’s stuck at home, ordering from Amazon is the default.) Buffett is the relative pauper of the group, with his fortune increasing by only $4.4 billion.

It wasn’t just old-school investors and tech-giant megalomaniacs who’ve cashed in. According to Forbes, wealth among all U.S. billionaires increased by $584 billion since March, when the nationwide lockdown started.

(To be fair, this measurement begins after the stock market had begun stabilizing from its earlier crash.)

How did the rest of us make out? Forbes reports that $6.5 trillion in household wealth has disappeared. During the same period of time that American billionaires were cashing in, 45 million Americans filed for unemployment.

While this boom among the wealthy has invigorated investment and boosted the stock market, we still have a long way to go to get back to pre-COVID levels. “The stock market isn’t the economy,” said former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellin. “The economy is production and jobs, and there are shortfalls in virtually every sector of the economy.”

Big-box retailers are faring much better than small businesses, which either remain shuttered or are having a tough time gaining traction in an economy not running on all cylinders. Big chains have the cash to ride out tough times and the physical space to meet social-distancing guidelines in their hangar-sized stores. Mid-level and mom-and-pop operations generally can’t match either component and are forced to struggle with what they have.

The employment picture is also skewed. Higher-wage workers who were laid off or furloughed have mostly returned to work, and those who have the skills and capacity to work from home never missed a beat. However, employment for workers who make less than $14 per hour is still 20% below pre-COVID levels. Black employment, which had reached record levels under the Trump administration, has only recovered around 20% of its early March level. (Much of this is due to generous unemployment benefits that often pay folks more not to work than they could make by returning to the job.)

Many workers are also realizing that what they were led to believe were temporary layoffs are permanent. Employers and employees, who in March optimistically believed that this would all blow over after a few weeks, expected to be back to normal by now. But recent spikes in new cases (which everyone should have anticipated when widespread testing began) have led many employers to rethink their strategy. Additionally, economic gains have been lopsided and somewhat unpredictable, making small and midsize business owners skittish to being hiring again.

This is to say nothing of the Democrat-fomented riots plaguing many cities.

The country at large has also taken a hit to its collective psyche. The CDC recently reported a sharp rise in individuals suffering acute anxiety, depression, and stress-related disorders. Use of alcohol and other mood-altering substances, legal or otherwise, is up significantly. And according to one survey, 25% of Americans ages 18-24 have contemplated suicide in the last 30 days.

This is not good news, and it’s all playing into the leftist narrative that Donald Trump’s America is unfair and cruel. This makes for great sound bites to feed to the brainwashed masses, but the truth is quite the opposite.

The Democrat response to COVID wrecked what was a healthy economy shaped in large part by Trump’s policies. The reason many low-wage workers are not getting back to work has to do with the draconian social-distancing and recovery measures put in place by power-mad would-be dictators — New York’s Andrew Cuomo, Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, or California’s Gavin Newsom. Their rule by diktat has done massive damage to independently owned businesses, particularly in major cities, that could otherwise hire the low-wage workers who are currently twisting in the wind.

Democrats don’t want kids to return to school (another factor keeping parents from returning to work), and they don’t want businesses to open unless they give their blessing. They will close churches, but sanction riots. Politicos in the party of Joe Biden will preach about economic and social equality, but all of their actions, perhaps especially their response to the pandemic, point in the opposite direction.

(Visit our comprehensive CV19 Pandemic response and recovery page to review our comprehensive timeline on government and political actions related to the pandemic, and see our related pages.

(Updated.)

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