After Donald Trump claimed victory in the 8 November 2016 U.S. presidential election, some critics who were unhappy with that outcome began circulating a quote attributed to Trump that, taken out of context, seemed rather apocalyptic. It circulated again during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic of March 2020, as the outbreak threatened to shut down the U.S. economy:
“We have a lot of people that are unemployed that have no idea of getting a job. They love the system, they don’t have to work, they’re being taken care of, and it’s a problem … You know what solves it? When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell, and everything is a disaster, then you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be, when we were great.”
Donald Trump did make that remark, albeit in February 2014, well before he announced that he be would running for president in the 2016 election. Trump uttered his statement in passing while he was a phone-in guest to the “Fox & Friends” political talk show discussion about a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report holding that Obamacare (i.e., the Affordable Care Act) would cost the nation the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs over the next decade.
Trump offered his viewpoint that the Affordable Care Act and other social programs allowed people to “live very nicely” without working and that such a circumstance was highly deleterious to the economy, saying “A lot of people live better without having a job, than they do with a job. I’ve had it where you have people and you want to hire them, but they can’t take the job for a period of nine months because they’re doing better now than they would with a job”:
Some critics characterized Trump’s words to mean that he believed riots and economic chaos could solve the country’s woes:
In February 2014, Donald Trump joined Fox News to rail against the Obama Administration, including the Affordable Care Act and its economic approach. There was little of substance to support his sweeping remarks. However, given that a President Trump will be taking office in January, his suggested remedy (at the 2:02 mark) stands out.
In any case, Trump’s comment was a hypothetical statement, not a suggestion that he advocated a policy of deliberately crashing the U.S. economy to get people off of welfare rolls and back to work.