With Trump focused on next quarter, Muir asks about Americans worried about next week

Muir pressed the president on the possibility of 19% unemployment.

May 06, 2020, 7:07 PM

In his interview with ABC News anchor David Muir, President Donald Trump said "that is what it is" when asked his thoughts on the new unemployment rate, which is due out Friday, and has been projected by one of his advisers to reach 19%.

"There are 30 million Americans who are unemployed. ... There have been forecasts -- 15, 16, 17%. One of your advisers projected an unemployment rate of 19%. That's nearly 1 in 5 Americans without a job. How bad is this going to get?" Muir asked the president.

"You know, it's very interesting. Even the Democrats aren't blaming me for that," Trump said.

On Wednesday, a White House economic adviser called a jobs report "chilling," saying that private-sector unemployment had dropped by more than 20 million jobs in April.

Trump told Muir on Tuesday that the U.S. had to close up in order t​o save millions of lives, but that "we're getting back to work."

"The third quarter, I think, is going to be -- I call it a transition quarter," the president said. "I mean, a lot of these states are really getting back into gear. There's a spirit out there right now that's pretty incredible. ... What I want to do is, we have a transition period coming. I think the fourth quarter will be very good. And I think next year is going to be one of the best years we've ever had, economically. ... I really think next year is going to be one of the best years we've ever had."

With growing food shortages and reports of long lines at food pantries across the U.S., however, Muir reminded Trump the reality for many families was that they can't afford to wait for the next quarter while they're trying to get through next week.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks with ABC News' David Muir in Phoenix on May 5, 2020.
President Donald Trump speaks with ABC News' David Muir in Phoenix on May 5, 2020.
ABC News

"Well, we've done a lot for that. We've done our small business, as you know, our PPP (Payment Protection Program), paycheck, if you want to call it that, where small businesses are given billions of dollars, so that they can take care of their employees. We've done a lot of other -- look, we've done $2 trillion," Trump said. "I think that you're gonna have a very, very terrific transition third quarter. I see it happening. The spirit I see now. People are calling. It's an incredible spirit that's going on, and I'm a person that believes in spirit because you need spirit for success."

Muir asked, "What would you say to the moms and dads at home right now who are still waiting, not only for their stimulus checks, some have said they're still waiting to hear back on their unemployment benefits, and who are really struggling waiting in these food lines?"

The president blamed antiquated systems in some states, saying some of them "aren't so well managed."

"Many states have 45-year-old computers, and they can't handle it and I said that's what's going to happen. The money's coming but they have to see the state," he said. "They have to get the money out. Again, I would have rather sent the money directly. They wanted it to go through the unemployment, through the system and exactly what I said. I told you, I told you a lot of people exactly what I said has happened in some cases, where the equipment can’t handle the money. But it's going to get out. That's the state's problem."

The president did say that the federal government would take over the problem if states did not disburse funds soon.

"We had the greatest economy ever, and we're going to do it again," he said.

According to the Detroit Free Press, last week, the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department declared that more than 130 million Economic Impact Payments, totaling more than $207 billion, had already been sent as part of the coronavirus economic relief effort. The first wave of direct deposit payments hit accounts around April 15. The Detroit Free Press said roughly 20 million people had still not been paid, based on IRS estimates that payments would be disbursed to more than 150 million Americans.

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