Weekend Reads United States: Donald Trump's economic record marked by Covid-19

23:05  29 october  2020
23:05  29 october  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

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In 2016, Donald Trump inherited a country in good shape, left by his predecessor Barack Obama. Four years later, the Republican President's “Make America Great Again” program has been shattered. The health crisis with the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the situation.

In his presidential project, the Republican candidate pledged to eliminate all of the public debt. But the tax cuts granted to the highest incomes and the stimulus plan, voted on last spring, have widened the public accounts. At the end of 2019, the deficit reached 23 trillion dollars against nearly 20 trillion at the end of 2016. And the public debt has now reached a worrying level: 100% of gross domestic product.

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The second pillar of Donald Trump's protectionist policy was the trade and tariff war against China. But it did not have the expected success. Protectionism did not allow the country to deindustrialize.

Despite US taxes, the trade surplus with the United States is still high. It stands at over $ 30 billion. And although in September, this trade surplus fell from 34 billion in August, it remains up for the year as a whole, at more than 18%.

Deregulation to the detriment of the environment

In terms of trade, Donald Trump also denounced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) concluded in 1994, considering it unbalanced and destructive of jobs. After difficult negotiations, a new agreement, USMCA , was signed between the United States, Mexico and Canada. The text entered into force on July 1, 2020. It is therefore still too early to judge the effects on the US economy.

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Donald Trump's other campaign promise was deregulation. The Trump administration has deregulated everything. In the field of energy and ecology, many laws have been repealed. The country has thus seen the development of activities that consume a lot of fossil fuels and the exploitation of shale gas, but to the detriment of the environment. Other measures have been taken concerning automotive standards and air pollution. The United States also withdrew from the Paris climate agreement in 2017.

Unemployment and precariousness

On the employment front, everything collapsed with the Covid-19 epidemic. The unemployment rate - almost 8% - has never been so high since World War II. Yet the country has recreated 11 million jobs. Or half of the 22 million destroyed last March at the start of the health crisis.

The gap between job loss linked to the Covid-19 crisis and unemployment benefits weighs on the most disadvantaged. Inequalities are growing. One in seven Americans now lives in poverty. Food banks are overwhelmed. More than 37 million people depend on food aid for food.

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