There was no shortage of terrible news coming from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, May 8, when the BLS reported that unemployment had reached 14.7% in the United States in April and that the country had lost 20.5 million more jobs last month — that is, in addition to all the jobs lost in March thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. And Friday’s jobs report doesn’t take into account the jobs that have been lost in May so far. Despite all that, Republicans are hardly going out of their way to help all the Americans who are struggling badly — and liberal economist Paul Krugman calls them out for it in his New York Times column.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on workers,” Krugman explains. “The economy has plunged so quickly that official statistics can’t keep up, but the available data suggest that tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, with more job losses to come and full recovery probably years away. But Republicans adamantly oppose extending enhanced unemployment benefits.”
Krugman adds that because “most working-age Americans receive health insurance through their employers,” millions of Americans are — during a deadly pandemic — losing their health insurance when they lose their jobs.
“The only mitigating factor is the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, which will allow many — though by no means all — of the newly uninsured to find alternative coverage,” Krugman observes. “But the Trump Administration is still trying to have the Affordable Care Act ruled unconstitutional. ‘We want to terminate health care under Obamacare,’ declared Donald Trump — even though the Administration has never offered a serious alternative.”
Trump doubled down on his vendetta against Obamacare on May 6, telling reporters that he is still urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the law as unconstitutional. Even Attorney General William Barr has urged Trump’s administration to tone down its anti-ACA rhetoric, but the president is as stubbornly anti-ACA as ever. And Krugman warns that if Obamacare is abolished and its protection for pre-existing conditions ends, all of the Americans who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 would probably be uninsurable.
“Bear in mind that ending Obamacare would end protection for Americans with pre-existing conditions — and that insurers would probably refuse to cover anyone who had COVID-19,” according to Krugman.
Krugman goes on to say that at a time when “food banks are overwhelmed,” Republicans are “trying to make food stamps harder to get, and fiercely oppose proposals to temporarily make food aid more generous.”
The Times columnist, a firm believer in New Deal/Great Society economics, has been stressing that that the more the U.S. helps Americans who are suffering economically during the pandemic, the better off the U.S. economy will be in the longrun. And he wraps up his column by lamenting that Republicans have no interest in helping them.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that Americans suffering from the economic consequences of COVID-19 will get far less help than they should,” Krugman asserts. “Having already condemned tens of thousands to unnecessary death."