“Stunningly tone-deaf”: Ivanka Trump criticized for urging jobless Americans to “find something new”

The White House urges laid-off workers to "find something new" while pushing two big tax breaks to help the rich

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published July 14, 2020 1:44PM (EDT)

Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House rolled out a new ad campaign spearheaded by first daughter Ivanka Trump, which urges Americans laid off amid the coronavirus pandemic to simply "find something new."

The campaign was the product of the White House American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, which is led by the president's daughter and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

"I got laid off twice, but you got to keep going," one man says in the ad before others tell their stories about how they were able to find apprenticeships and vocational training programs, albeit seemingly before the pandemic.

"There has never been a more critical time for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to be aware of the multiple pathways to career success and gain the vocational training and skills they need to fill jobs in a changing economy," Ivanka Trump, who herself graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, said in a tweet promoting the campaign.

But there is a major problem with the White House's message, despite President Donald Trump's claim that the economy is well on its way to recovery. Nearly 49 million Americans have filed first-time jobless claims in the four months since the pandemic began, and while the unemployment rate has ticked down slightly, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that there are nearly four unemployed Americans for every job opening.

Trump has also pushed governors to plow through federal guidelines and reopen businesses, which has resulted in massive spikes in states like Texas, Florida, Georgia and Arizona. States like California are already shutting down thousands of businesses again after new infections skyrocketed. The White House and Senate Republicans have also pushed back on calls to provide aid to cash-strapped states and cities, which is expected to result in countless job losses for workers like teachers, hospital staff, firefighters and police.

"'Find something new' the White House says to unemployed Americans in the worst job market since the depression," pollster Matt McDermott tweeted. "Just a stunningly tone deaf campaign."

"If the White House is encouraging people unhappy in their jobs to find something new, may I suggest they start with the president?" former Obama speechwriter David Litt quipped.

The White House urging tens of millions of out-of-work Americans to "find something new" also stands in stark contrast to the administration's proposal of a massive bailout for the rich.

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Monday that the White House was pushing for a new phase of coronavirus relief that would include "payroll tax holiday on workers' wages and a 'capital gains holiday,' which would defer payment of capital gains taxes on new asset purchases, possibly for several years."

Roughly two-thirds of the temporary payroll tax cut would flow to the richest 20% of Americans, while the poorest 40% would get only 6% of the benefit, according to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. Such tax breaks are "insufficiently targeted and largely meaningless to those who've lost their jobs and are no longer receiving paychecks," MSNBC's Steve Benen added.

A capital gains tax cut would even more overwhelmingly favor the rich. Only about 6% of households in the bottom 80% of earners claim any capital gains and about 75% of such a tax cut would flow to the top 1% of earners, according to the Tax Policy Center.

"Maybe," said Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., "Donald Trump should 'find something new' instead."

You can watch the ad below via YouTube:

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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Aggregate Coronavirus Covid-19 Donald Trump Ivanka Trump Politics Republicans Unemployment