U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question during a news conference at the White House in Washington, September 4, 2020.
Leah Millis | Reuters
President Donald Trump predicted a sharp economic rebound next year and said Monday the U.S. is “rounding the final turn” on the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to reporters from the North Portico of White House, Trump touted the most recent nonfarm payrolls report that showed a sharp drop in the unemployment rate and said that if he is not re-elected, the pandemic rebound will come to a halt.
“We’re currently witnessing the fastest labor market recovery from an economic crisis in history,” he said. “Next year will be the greatest economic year in the history our country, I project.”
Trump spoke three days after the Labor Department reported creation of nearly 1.4 million jobs in August and a slide in the unemployment rate from 10.2% in July to 8.4%. About half the jobs lost during the pandemic have been recovered, though economists and health experts worry that a Covid-19 resurgence in the fall and winter could stunt those gains.
However, Trump said the economy is recoverin in a V shape, “probably a super V,” and noted recent record-breaking moves in the stock market.
He also offered encouragement about the progress towards a vaccine, saying one is possible as early as October, though there’s no evidence to suggest that is likely at this point. Trump painted the U.S. as “a leader in every way” compared with other countries when it comes to containing the virus.
“We’ve done an incredible job at speeds like nobody has ever seen before,” he said. “This could have taken two or three years. Instead, it’s being done in a very short period of time. We could even have [a vaccine] in the month of October.”
The U.S has seen nearly 890,000 Covid-19 cases and 189,028 deaths, according to tracking from Johns Hopkins University. The 5-day moving average for cases is 40,714, well above where it was in the spring but below the peak of 69,451 in mid-July.
Along with his thoughts on the economy and virus, the president lobbed persistent criticism at his November election opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.
“If Joe Biden becomes president, China will own the United States, and every other country will be smiling as well,” Trump said.
Trump also entertained the idea of “decoupling” from China, or refusing to do business with the nation. “There’s been no country anywhere at anytime that’s ripped us off like China does,” he said.
On a separate matter, he further denied what he called “phony” recent press reports that quoted unidentified sources saying Trump disparaged veterans while on a trip to France two years ago.
“Who would say a thing like that? Only an animal would say a thing like that,” he said.
Trump also was asked about allegations against U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who reportedly pressured employees to donate to Republican candidates and then returned the money in bonuses. The charges were first reported in the Washington Post, which said the practice occurred while DeJoy was a GOP fundraiser and working at New Breed Logistics.
Reimbursing campaign donations through corporate funds is a violation of state and federal election laws.
Trump said he was only vaguely familiar with the story, but encouraged an investigation. DeJoy has been a target of Democratic lawmakers since he took the postmaster’s job in June. He has denied repaying executives for contributions.
“Sure, let the investigations go, but he’s a very respected man,” Trump said. Asked if DeJoy could be fired, Trump said, “Yeah, if something can be proven that he did something.”