Center for American Progress Action

CAP Action Memo: Trump Makes Arizona’s Problems Worse as Coronavirus Deaths Spike and Unemployment Surpasses 10 Percent
Press Release

CAP Action Memo: Trump Makes Arizona’s Problems Worse as Coronavirus Deaths Spike and Unemployment Surpasses 10 Percent

Washington, D.C. — Tomorrow, President Donald Trump will travel to a Yuma, Arizona, airport hangar where he is expected to deliver remarks on immigration and border security instead of focusing on the dire economic and public health crises facing the state. 

Arizona is reeling from the president’s failed response to the coronavirus, with some of the worst caseloads, death counts, hospitalization rates, and cases among children in the country. Arizona is also experiencing a second wave of economic distress after a slight rebound in May: The state now has a 10 percent unemployment rate, up 5.5 percentage points from February. As of August 10, approximately 850,000 Arizonans, representing 23.4 percent of the state’s February labor force, had filed unemployment insurance claims since the beginning of March. As of June, the Yuma metro area alone had lost 4,100 jobs since February—a 7.1 percent loss—and its unemployment rate jumped to 18.1 percent.

For weeks, President Trump has attempted to pivot from this grim reality and mislead the public by repeatedly claiming that prior to the pandemic, his administration had “built the greatest economy in the history of the world.” He even suggested that his administration would quickly rebound from the devastating losses of the pandemic, saying: “I think it’s going to build fast. I think it’ll be a tremendous, tremendous comeback.” 

In reality, and contrary to President Trump’s rosy economic message, few recessions have been rooted more directly in presidential decisions. Experts suggest that the coronavirus-induced economic recession will last for years to come; some estimates even project a nationwide double-digit unemployment rate well into 2021. Since the beginning of March, more than 52 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits, and nearly 13 million remain unemployed. Moreover, the current unemployment rate of 10.2 percent is still significantly higher than it was at the peak of the Great Recession.

In previous visits to Arizona, President Trump made sweeping promises to working families on kitchen-table issues such as health care and the economy, but in reality, the administration has led the country and Arizonans into a recession.  

Learn more about how the Trump administration’s policies have hurt Arizona families below.

Health care

Claim: “Great health care for far less money. That’s going to happen.” – Donald Trump in Phoenix, March 19, 2016 

Reality: The Trump administration has doubled down on its commitment to taking health care away from millions of Americans while offering no viable replacement plan. Below are several ways Arizonans would be harmed if the administration were to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA):

  • 363,000 Arizonans would lose coverage, causing the state’s uninsured rate to increase by 39 percent.
  • 2.8 million Arizonans with preexisting conditions would face higher premiums or be barred from coverage altogether—a discriminatory practice that the ACA outlawed.
  • 915,000 Arizonans would face cost limits on employer-based coverage.
  • The state of Arizona would lose $2.1 billion in federal Medicaid funding, and demand for uncompensated care would increase by $823 million, straining hospitals.


Claim: “We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud. [Dreamers] got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs.”  – Donald Trump, November 28, 2016

Reality: For years, including as president, Trump has vilified immigrants, portraying them as a burden on the nation’s economy and a U.S. security threat. Each year in Arizona, Dreamer households pay $285 million in federal taxes, pay $181 million in state and local taxes, and provide $1.5 billion in spending power to their communities. 


Claim: “We are going to cut taxes for Middle Class families by hundreds of billions of dollars.” – Donald Trump in Phoenix, October 29, 2016

Reality: Trump promised to punish companies that moved U.S. factories to other countries. But the tax law he signed in 2017 incentivizes companies to outsource jobs and keep profits overseas by creating new loopholes that reward companies for relocating operations and assets.

The tax breaks created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act have delivered $5 billion more in benefits in 2019 to foreign investors than to the working- and middle-class families in every state that voted for Trump in 2016. This year, foreign investors are expected to gain $48 billion from the bill, while the bottom 99 percent of Arizonans will only receive $4.1 billion. Meanwhile, the richest 1 percent of Arizonans will receive, on average, a tax cut of more than $45,000 this year, while the bottom 80 percent will receive an average tax cut of less than $700.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Jesse Lee at [email protected].