Aug 08, 2020
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President Trump signed several executive orders pertaining to unemployment relief on Saturday, including extending enhanced unemployment relief benefits, but at $400 a week instead of $600. It's unclear if the has the constitutional authority implement the extended unemployment or a payroll tax cut, another one of the executive orders he announced.
The orders, if implemented, would provide $400 in added unemployment benefits out of work because of the pandemic, and defer payroll taxes for those earning less than $100,000 a year. Unemployed workers had been receiving a supplement of $600, a benefit that expired on July 31.
The payroll tax would be deferred through the end of the year but still be owed by workers without further action. The cut will apply to the tax workers pay for Social Security and Medicare, currently 6.2% and 1.45%.
States are expected to cover 25% of the cost of the additional unemployment benefits, although it's unclear if he spoke to governors about this. "If they don't, they don't. It's up to them," Mr. Trump said about governors. He also argued that it would not be too difficult for unemployed Americans to adjust to receiving less money from their unemployment benefits.
"This is not a hardship," Mr. Trump said. "This is the money they need. This is the money they want. This gives them an incentive to go back to work."
Congressional Democrats have not budged on their insistence for a long-term extension of enhanced unemployment benefits of $600 per week to unemployed Americans that expired at the end of July.
The president signed another executive order providing protection against evictions, as well as one pertaining to student loan payment deferments.
Mr. Trump also announced an executive order providing a payroll tax holiday to Americans receiving less than $100,000 per year, and said he would make permanent cuts to the payroll tax if he is reelected.
It's unclear how the president might be able to do those things unilaterally.
He also expressed doubt that the orders could be challenged in court, and said that he believed Americans would receive the promised relief quickly.
"I think this is going to go very rapidly through the courts," Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump signed the orders the day after promising to take executive action because of another failed week of negotiations on Capitol Hill to reach an agreement on a coronavirus relief bill.
"I'm taking executive action. We've had it," Mr. Trump said.
The president slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for not coming to an agreement with White House officials. Although he said "hopefully we can do something with them on a later date," he repeatedly criticized Democrats and their $3.4 trillion proposal. He claimed that Democrats were trying to "steal the election" by including election assistance provisions in their bill. Democrats argue that it is necessary to shore up state election systems in the middle of a pandemic, when it is expected that many voters will opt to cast their ballots by mail.
Pelosi said Friday that she had proposed a compromise on coronavirus relief legislation to White House officials, offering to cut the bill by $1 trillion if Republicans added $1 trillion to their version, but said this offer had been rejected. White House officials had hoped to reach a deal on a smaller bill that included funding for schools, the paycheck protection program and unemployment benefits, but Democrats argued that Republicans did not understand the gravity of the situation.
The president called Pelosi "crazy" and referred to the Senate minority leader as "Crying Chuck Schumer."