Trump adviser: Millions of new unemployment claims 'totally expected'

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White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Thursday that millions of new unemployment claims reported earlier in the day due the coronavirus pandemic was “totally expected” because the Trump administration is putting “health above economics.”  

During an appearance on Fox News, host Sandra Smith asked Navarro about the White House reaction to the record 3.3 million people filing jobless claims. 

“Look, this is to be totally expected, because the whole strategy of President TrumpDonald John TrumpNorth Korea asking for aid, while denying any coronavirus cases: report Iranian official maintains Tehran has ‘no knowledge’ of American hostage’s whereabouts Unemployment claims surge to 3.2 million as coronavirus devastates economy MORE is to basically get social distancing so we can combat the virus,” Navarro responded. 


“We put public health above economics in the very, very short run.  So, this is no surprise. This is expected and we should accept the news, because we’re doing what we need to do to combat the virus,” he added. 

The Labor Department released data Thursday morning showing weekly jobless claims rose to 3.28 million for the week of March 15 and 22. 

Navarro said Trump and his team are doing “everything we possibly can” to deal with the public health emergency and economic crisis, and highlighted the $2 trillion stimulus package approved by the Senate Wednesday night

“We’re targeted relief, particularly for the low-income workers.  We’ve got a big fiscal stimulus itself. We’ve got targeted industry relief and we’ve got a liquidity piece to it, which is unprecedented in history,” Navarro said. 

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Airbnb – Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill Legal immigrants at risk of losing status during coronavirus pandemic Senate unanimously passes T coronavirus stimulus package MORE similarly called the surge in unemployment claims “not relevant” because of the stimulus package. 

“I just think these numbers right now are not relevant,” he said when asked about the initial jobless claims during a CNBC interview on Thursday. “The good thing about this bill is, the president is protecting these people.”