Last updated on August 20, 2020
President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders Saturday in an effort to bypass congressional negotiations and extend financial relief to tens of millions of Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. One order would extend enhanced unemployment benefits at a reduced rate of $400 per week.
The federal benefit is intended to replace the previous provision that gave out-of-work Americans an extra $600 per week in benefits, on top of state-administered pay, which expired July 31.
Under the new order, the federal government would cover $300 in enhanced aid per person per week, and states would be responsible for the remaining $100.
Because Congress has the constitutional authority to allocate federal spending, Mr. Trump — who has frequently turned to unilateral action, as opposed to wrangling through tough negotiations — is likely to need congressional agreement, and legislation, to deliver additional financial relief to American families and businesses.
Democrats swiftly criticized Mr. Trump’s actions as an example of executive overreach, saying the measures offered thin support for struggling Americans and warning that the nation’s social safety net could be jeopardized while the coronavirus pandemic continued to spread. After two weeks of huddling with Mr. Trump’s top advisers on Capitol Hill in an effort to hammer out a deal, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, called for talks to resume.
“The president’s meager, weak and unconstitutional actions further demand that we have an agreement,” Ms. Pelosi said on “Fox News Sunday.” She rejected the suggestion that she had erred by holding out for Democratic priorities, telling the program’s anchor, Chris Wallace, that “clearly you don’t have an understanding of what is happening here.”
Trump probably doesn’t have the constitutional authority to unilaterally expand the moratorium passed by Congress, which blocked evictions and foreclosures for a sizable share of tenants, including those living in public housing or using housing vouchers. The CARES Act moratorium also covered renters living in properties with a federally backed mortgage (meaning loans that are owned, insured, or guaranteed by a federal entity). But advocates say that the administration does have the power to renew the federal eviction moratorium, and late in July, officials from some 170 different state and national housing organizations issued a letter to Carson at HUD calling on him to extend the protections. The White House executive order neither extends nor expands this moratorium.
Diane Yentel, the president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, described Trump’s new executive order as an “empty shell of a promise” in an email.
“The President alluded to ‘stopping evictions,’ but the executive order fails to provide any meaningful relief to the millions of renters who are at risk of losing their homes,” Yentel said in her statement. “President Trump failed even to use his existing authority to reinstate the limited federal eviction moratorium that expired on July 24, which covered 30% of renters nationwide.”
“Payroll tax holidays have a mixed economic record,” the Tax Foundation noted in March, when the Trump administration first floated a temporary deferral in collecting the taxes that fund the Social Security and Medicare programs.
At first glance, the executive order might seem similar to a provision in 2011 and 2012 that reduced workers’ portion of the payroll tax by two percentage points. But that earlier tax cut was legislated by Congress rather than coming out of the White House, and the monetary difference was made up by a transfer from the Treasury’s general fund to the Social Security Trust Fund — a move that only Congress can authorize, despite Trump’s assurance of forgiveness.
It is far from clear to what extent corporate America will sign on to the plan sketched out in the executive order. Walmart, Target, McDonald’s, CVS, UnitedHealthcare and Apple all did not respond to requests for comment about if or how they would implement a payroll tax deferral.
So this really wasn’t a real “executive action”. It was all just a bull shit publicity stunt. You would think that Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. KY) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R. SC) who hated President Obama’s “executive overreach” would be royally pissed about Trump’s action here. Well you guess wrong:
“I support President Trump exploring his options to get unemployment benefits and other relief to the people who need them the most,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Saturday in a statement.
Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also took to the Senate floor on Thursday morning to lash out. “Imposing his will unilaterally may seem tempting. It may serve him politically in the short term. But he knows that it will make an already-broken system even more broken, and he knows that this is not how democracy is supposed to work. Because he told us so himself,” McConnell said, referring to the president’s past statements saying that he couldn’t unilaterally rework immigration policies.
Same thing with Lindsey Graham now:
Graham said Saturday that he appreciated Trump’s orders but “would much prefer a congressional agreement.”
But when Obama did it back in 2014:
And of course, Susan Collins is just going along with it:
“Congress must act quickly,” Collins said in a statement that did not address the legality of the move. “There are constitutional limits on what the President can do to help through executive orders.”
They truly have become the SNL caricatures of themselves:
We really need to kick these morons out of the Senate to get our majority and also win back the White House. Click below to donate to Biden, McGrath, Harrison and Gideon’s campaigns:
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