- The Washington Times - Friday, May 8, 2020

President Trump said the U.S. must start its economy “all over again” Friday as the unemployment rate from the coronavirus crisis rose to the highest level since the Great Depression.

“It’s going to be a transition to greatness,” the president said during a discussion at the White House with 19 House Republican lawmakers. “We are in a position where we have to start all over again. We’re going to build it back fast.”

The government reported Friday that the jobless rate rose in April to 14.7%, as more than 33 million people were thrown out of work in seven weeks. In February, the unemployment rate was 3.5%.

Mr. Trump noted that 2020 was the year analysts forecast that China, where the coronavirus originated, would overtake the U.S. economy. He said he won’t allow it to happen.

“If the right person sits in this seat, it’ll never happen,” Mr. Trump said. “If the wrong person sits in this seat, it’ll happen in a period of a few years or less.”

The president also said some Democrats are deliberately resisting reopening the economy to hurt his reelection.

“I think some people don’t want it to come back for political reasons, which is sick,” Mr. Trump said.

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, Pennsylvania Republican, told the president that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has imposed “draconian” shutdown measures. Mr. Wolf has extended many restrictions until June 4.

“It’s destroying our economy,” said Mr. Reschenthaler, adding that the state has risen to first in the nation in the number of unemployment claims.

Another Republican from Pennsylvania, Rep. Scott Perry, said the Wolf administration has set up a website “where people can snitch on their neighbor who’s going to work or who is opening their business in contradiction to [the governor’s] order.”

“That’s not bringing anybody together,” Mr. Perry said.

He asked the president to give “some assurance” to several counties in Pennsylvania that want to reopen but are fearful of violating the governor’s order.

The COVID-19 disease has killed more than 76,000 Americans, and Mr. Trump said the death toll could rise to “about 95,000 people ultimately.”

“We may be talking about more than that,” the president said.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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