Bernie Sanders Criticizes Trump for Touting Dow Record, as Millions of Americans Won't Have Enough Food on Thanksgiving

Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, called out President Donald Trump for touting the Dow Jones Industrial Average passing a record-breaking 30,000 on Tuesday—as millions of Americans may go hungry on Thanksgiving this week.

For the first time ever, the Dow Jones broke 30,000, which economists attributed to the General Services Administration (GSA) allowing the transition to President-elect Joe Biden to formally move forward—fueling investors optimism as Trump refuses to concede the election. But Trump took credit for the strong stock market and the economic recovery amid the surging COVID-19 pandemic.

"I just want to congratulate everybody. The stock market, Dow Jones Industrial Average just hit 30,000, which is the highest in history," Trump said in Tuesday remarks. The president described 30,000 as "sacred," asserting that "nobody thought they'd ever see it."

Responding to Trump with a Thursday tweet, Sanders, a progressive who unsuccessfully challenged Biden for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination before throwing his full support behind the former vice president, pointed out that the high number didn't mean much to millions of Americans facing significant financial hardships.

Yesterday, Trump took full credit for the 30,000 Dow Jones, but took zero credit for 260,000 Americans who died from COVID, 40 million who face eviction or 26 million who don't have enough food to eat on Thanksgiving.

No, Mr. President. The stock market is not the economy.

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 25, 2020

"Yesterday, Trump took full credit for the 30,000 Dow Jones, but took zero credit for 260,000 Americans who died from COVID, 40 million who face eviction or 26 million who don't have enough food to eat on Thanksgiving," Sanders tweeted.

"No, Mr. President. The stock market is not the economy," the progressive senator wrote.

In a statement emailed to Newsweek, a White House spokesperson pushed back against Sanders' criticism.

"President Trump's economic program of tax cuts, deregulation, improved trade deals, and energy independence has created the most inclusive, resilient economy in history benefiting all Americans, including the millions of hardworking people with 401(k)s. The President has worked tirelessly to provide the American people with the support they need to overcome the challenges associated with the pandemic, including trillions of dollars of support for small businesses, unemployment insurance, and stimulus payments, in addition to the world's leading testing system, billions of pieces of PPE, and treatments and vaccines in record time," the spokesperson said.

Sanders appeared to be referring to survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which showed nearly 26 million (or about one in eight) Americans sometimes or often did not have enough food to eat in the past week. That data was compiled from October 28 to November 9.

Feeding America, a nonprofit with a nationwide network of more than 200 million food banks, has projected that more than 50 million Americans will have faced hunger by the end of the year. That's an uptick of some 15 million compared to the 35 million prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the estimated national unemployment rate remains about twice as high as it was prior to the pandemic, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the past two weeks, the Department of Labor's reports have again shown an increase in the number of new jobless claims. As the pandemic continues to surge and states and municipalities implement new lockdown measures, economists are concerned that the situation could worsen in the coming months.

"With new pandemic restrictions on behavior either mandated by governments or initiated by individuals themselves, downside risks for the economy have only grown. We know that there is light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Unfortunately, both for the economy and the wellbeing of individuals and the businesses employing them, we're currently stuck in a kind of pandemic purgatory," Bankrate's senior economist Mark Hamrick said in an email to Newsweek.

Bernie Sanders
Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a protest at the U.S. Capitol on October 22. On November 25, Sanders tweeted, "Yesterday, Trump took full credit for the 30,000 Dow Jones, but took zero credit for 260,000 Americans who died from COVID, 40 million who face eviction or 26 million who don't have enough food to eat on Thanksgiving." Jemal Countess/Care In Action/Getty

Despite the dire situation facing tens of millions of Americans ahead of the holidays, Republicans and Democrats still remain at odds over further COVID-19 economic stimulus. Ahead of the election it looked as if lawmakers may be approaching a compromise, but that failed to materialize. Now members of both parties are suggesting a smaller, more targeted bill may be possible prior to the transition to the new government in late January.

"It is unhelpful that elected officials in Washington have failed to pass new relief legislation," Hamrick said.

The U.S. continues to have the highest number of infections and deaths due to COVID-19 of any country in the world. As of early Wednesday afternoon, the country has confirmed more than 12.6 million infections and nearly 260,000 deaths, according to The New York Times' tracker. The average of new cases has risen to about 175,000 per day over the last week, while new deaths over the last seven days have been higher than 1,600 on average. The U.S. reported 2,216 deaths on Tuesday.

Updated 4:40 PM ET, with comment from a White House spokesperson.