The US entered a recession in February -- but Trump has one thing still going for him
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Two of President Donald Trump's economic advisers are leaving in June. The news came just after the National Bureau of Economic Research, which identifies economic downturns, announced earlier this month that February is the moment the recession began.


It has been a key month in the coronavirus crisis that Democrats criticize President Donald Trump on because he didn't act after it became clear that the coronavirus pandemic was quickly spreading. The stock market began to stumble, erasing all of the gains Trump had made since taking office in 2017. While the market has continued to slowly climb back up, unemployment numbers continue to spike and more and more companies are filing for bankruptcy.

Writing for the Washington Post on Thursday, political columnist Greg Sargent explained that the recent polls show one strange thing that Trump still has going for him. People still think he's a competent businessman. The opinion has managed to protect Trump from losing approval for his job on the economy.

The New York Times and Siena College poll "finds that across these six battlegrounds, 56 percent of voters approve of Trump’s handling of the economy. This is glaring, given Trump’s terrible ratings on other epic challenges such as the coronavirus (41 percent) and race relations (34 percent)," Sargent explained.

Trump has had to file for bankruptcy six times for five different companies over the course of his business career. During the coronavirus crisis, Trump is desperately forcing people to reopen their businesses even if it means they could die.

A Democratic strategist he spoke to said that they're taking it seriously since it is the only thing Trump has left.

“Voters have always been more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on the economy because of their false belief in his business acumen,” Democratic pollster Jefrey Pollock told Sargent. “Combine it with three years of relatively positive economic news, and bringing those two together has made dislodging the positive feelings difficult.”

Sargent noted that it was Trump's failure to deal with the coronavirus crisis that caused the economic downturn, though it's hard for people to understand the link. Because Trump didn't deal with the crisis early enough, the markets got spooked and tumbled. Lockdowns had to be swift and severe because Trump couldn't figure out how to get supplies to people or held back ventilators to keep for the federal government.

When Trump had a meltdown over a Lincoln Project ad, it was because it punched him where it hurts most: how his inability to deal with COVID-19 led to an albatross of epic failures hanging around his neck.

"Another possibility: A sizable chunk of voters approves of Trump on the economy but still disapproves of his overall performance, showing (as several strategists noted) that other conditions are weighing more heavily amid the pandemic and mass civil unrest.

Trump has decided that his campaign will be about the country overcoming adversity to survive the worst economic crisis in 100 years and the most deadly pandemic since the 1917 flu. It ignores how Americans got into that pickle to begin with. But as Sargent explains, it hinges on Trump killing the coronavirus. If the virus spikes beyond where the U.S. was in the first half of the year, Trump can't get the Lazarus moment he wants. If there's a second wave in the fall, after the summer resurgence, it will be even harder for Trump to convince people he knows what he's doing.

"Given that Trump’s central message that the 'American comeback' is already underway depends on pretending that the coronavirus has been solved —even as it’s now all but certain to continue spiking, potentially requiring new lockdowns — this is probably what will happen," Sargent closed.

Read the full column at the Washington Post.