White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters on Wednesday that he does not believe systemic racism exists in the U.S., despite historic discrimination against black Americans in the job market, the housing market and the disproportionate impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on racial minorities.

Driving the news: More than two weeks of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing has prompted politicians and businesses to publicly denounce racism in the U.S. and call for policy changes to address structural inequalities.

What he's saying: "I don't believe there's systemic racism in the U.S. I'm not gonna go into a long riff on it. Black employment increased 300,000, did you know that? You didn't, right. So, that's a big win. And the black employment-to-population ratio went up over a percentage point. That's a big win."

  • "We do believe that returning to growth and prosperity creates opportunities for everybody. And we have also worked very hard putting out about a thousand opportunity zones with various tax regulatory breaks. ... We've given a lot of money to historic black colleges and universities. We've worked for very strong criminal justice reforms," Kudlow said.
  • "I will say it again: I do not," Kudlow responded when a reporter asked again if he believed there is systemic racism against African Americans in the U.S.
  • "I think the harm comes when you have very bad apples on the law enforcement side. What was done to Mr. Floyd was abysmal. I believe everyone in this country agrees with that. I think scholars like Heather Mac Donald and others have rebutted that. And I think there will be reforms," he said.
  • "I think part of this coming back together ... the president is a law and order man. Law and order is good for growth. Law and order is good for families. Law and order is good for people of all colors — it's a unifying message."

Where it stands: Under half of black adults in the U.S. currently have a job amid mass unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic — a rate lower than Hispanic, Asian and white Americans, per the New York Times.

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Trump says he "up-played" the coronavirus

President Trump said during an ABC town hall Tuesday evening that he did not downplay the coronavirus, adding "in many ways, I up-played it in terms of action."

Reality check: The president told journalist Bob Woodward during an on-the-record interview in March that he intentionally understated the severity of COVID-19 in public statements to avoid inciting panic.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 32,471,119 — Total deaths: 987,593 — Total recoveries: 22,374,557Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 7,032,524 — Total deaths: 203,657 — Total recoveries: 2,727,335 — Total tests: 99,483,712Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.
Mike Allen, author of AM
11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

A fresh Joe Biden ad, "New Start," signals an effort by his campaign to make unity a central theme, underscoring a new passage in his stump speech that says he won't be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.

What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin: