As he continues to flail around searching for a message, Donald Trump is clearly aware that the one issue he thought would be his ticket to a second term in office — a strong economy — is evaporating by the day, and could wind up being his biggest Achilles’ heel, the very thing that destroys his already fading chances of reelection.
Politico reports that the next six weeks are critical for the president if he hopes to prevent a “ticking economic time bomb”:
“A stretch of critical decisions from mid-July until Labor Day will lay the foundation for what the U.S. economy will look like in October before voters make their final decisions. And White House officials are scrambling to prevent a dangerous pileup.”
The two biggest economic challenges both revolve around the worsening crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19 in as many as 39 states, some of which are must-win targets for the president’s campaign:
- School Openings: Trump is pushing for public schools to restart in August, but many of the nation’s largest school systems are making it clear they have no intention of complying with his demands and threats. Closed schools would signal both a failure to control coronavirus and reinforce the president’s weakness.
- Unemployment: Expanded unemployment benefits expire in less than 10 days, and there seems to be no political among Republicans in Congress to extend them. $600 less a week in the pockets of unemployed workers could have a disastrous trickle-down effect, leading to less consumer spending and causing mass evictions by those unable to pay their rent or mortgages.
Despite Trump’s attempts to pretend the virus is under control and pivot to other issues, it remains the single-biggest threat to the country and his hopes of reelection:
“Aides inside the White House say the fate of the economy is closely intertwined with how well the U.S. is controlling the virus. To think otherwise is to ignore a global pandemic, these aides say — and handing off too much responsibility to states to solve it on their own will not work.”
Considering that Trump and his administration have already had six months to try and deal with coronavirus, it defies reality to expect their halfhearted efforts and magical thinking will suddenly start paying dividends.