DNC Chair Tom Perez and Michigan legislators talk in-state jobs, economy during Trump administration

Monday, June 8, 2020 - 7:28pm

.

File Photo/Daily

The Democratic National Committee discussed the effect of the COVID-19 on Michigan’s economy and the May 2020 Employment Situation Report released by the Trump administration via Zoom Monday afternoon. 

Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist began the conversation by emphasizing the unique challenges the economy is facing due to the pandemic. Gilchrist claimed that these challenges are being exacerbated by the failed leadership and lack of national strategy from the Trump administration. He said that while leaders of other levels of government have really worked to step up to the crisis, there is a lack of accountability from the Trump administration.

“(Michigan) was hit really hard by COVID-19. Communities of color, the Black community, in particular, were hit harder than almost any community in the country,” Gilchrist said. “We’ve worked hard to design specific responses to deal with that.”

U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., criticized President Donald Trump’s delayed response to COVID-19 and his decision to overlook China’s cover-up of the virus to secure a trade deal that did nothing to protect American workers and farmers. 

According to Levin, Michigan reported a 22 percent unemployment rate in April and by the end of May, 1.7 million Michiganders had filed for unemployment. He said the unemployment rate of Michigan is at its highest since 1976 and is even higher than the numbers experienced during the Great Recession of 2008. 

Levin said Trump’s delayed reaction to the pandemic created a fragile economy and cost Michigan businesses over $6.2 billion in profits.

“Despite Trump’s promise that Michigan wouldn’t lose a single plant, auto workers of Michigan in Dearborn and Hamtramck lost their jobs as factories shuttered and downsized,” Levin said. “We’re experiencing the worst unemployment since the Great Depression all because Trump failed to prepare for this crisis.”

Levin also highlighted the disproportionate impact the Trump administration has had on African-American and Latino communities. The unemployment rate rose to 20 percent, triple the unemployment in African-American communities and quadruple the rate in Latino communities. 

DNC Chair Tom Perez spoke about the report and emphasized how the report understates the hardships faced by those seeking full-time employment. According to Perez, 19.6 million jobs were lost over the last three months. He put this number into perspective by comparing the current employment loss number to the worst three months of the Obama administration, where 2.3 million jobs were lost.

“(Trump) is competing with Herbert Hoover to see who can preside over the greatest job loss in at least the last 100 years,” Perez said. “To call this job report the greatest comeback in history is kind of like saying because you were 42 points behind in a football game and now you are 35 points behind, we should spike the football. It’s ludicrous.” 

Perez also emphasized the importance of passing the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, which includes about $3 trillion in economic impact payments, in the Senate. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 208-199. The state of Michigan would get $7 billion in 2020 and $6 billion in 2021 through this act.

Perez commented that to alleviate the effects of COVID-19 on the American employment crisis, there is a need for a leader who works to unite the country rather than segregate it.

“(Trump) would rather tweet at Gov. Whitmer than work together with (her) to solve problems. We need a healer-in-chief, a uniter-in-chief, not a tweeter-in-chief,” Perez said. “America (is the) land of opportunity, land of justice for all, no footnotes. That is what we have to do. We simply cannot afford four more years of this president.”

 

Daily Staff Reporter Navya Gupta can be reached at itznavya@umich.edu