President Trump signed a series of executives orders the other day with the so-called intention of relieving laid-off workers and invigorating the economy. As usual, the Trump Administration doesn’t put much thought into its actions. Even now, as Covid-19 cases surge past 5 million, a thousand people a day die and tens of millions face eviction and food insecurity, Trump chooses to score quick political points rather than work for real solutions. That may be all part of the plan.
The President’s four executives orders are completely unconstitutional by any stretch of the imagination. They call for enhanced unemployment benefits, although Trump’s action would actually lower these benefits by $200 a week. $300 a week would be paid by the federal government, the remaining $100 would be paid by the already cash strapped States. If the states choose not participate, the people get nothing. It should be noted that Congress controls federal spending, not the President.
The next Trump executive order has to do with evictions. The CARES Act banned late fees and eviction filings until July 25 on properties backed by federal mortgage programs. Trump essentially promised to continue the moratorium, but his order leaves the final decision in the hands of Health and Human Services. Any kind of financial assistance to renters would come at the behest of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. So, don’t count on it.
Another order consists of the White House waiving student loan interest until Dec. 31, 2020, extending the current relief under the CARES Act. Trump’s memo only applies to loans “held by the Department of Education,” so privately held student loans are not covered.
Finally, you have the payroll tax cut. A payroll tax holiday that Trump has been pushing for months. Again, I should reiterate that the White House can’t forgive taxes without Congressional approval. Trump’s memo covers a four-month period from September through December 2020, for people earning less than $100,000 a year.
While you’d take home more money per paycheck, it is a deferral, you would still have to pay those taxes after the deferral period passes. The language in the memo, however, aims to do away with the referral altogether. Furthermore, Trump has said, if he’s re-elected in November, he will move to make the payroll tax cuts permanent. Little do people know, or Republicans care, that payroll taxes fund social security and Medicare.
It stands to reason that Democrats in their entirety are pissed for a multitude of reasons. A coalition of progressive advocacy groups and labor unions said in a joint statement that “Senate Republicans and President Trump are abandoning their constituents and the country as a whole, and causing chaos and turmoil by refusing to negotiate on COVID-19 relief.”
Trump’s orders, in fact, do very little for working people (and the unemployed) compared to what can be accomplished by congress. On it’s face, to his base, it looks great. They don’t look at details. All they see is their messiah stepping up when congress refused to act. It’s just unfortunate they refuse to realize it’s their own party that declined to negotiate.
Republicans refuse to negotiate with Democrats in the Senate on Covid-19 relief. Most Republicans can’t even agree between themselves. Trump naturally described the situation differently. “If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need,” the president said.
In a time of crisis, when people are struggling through health and financial troubles, Trump’s words can be music to peoples ears. He has the guts to do what the rest of Washington won’t. That populist attitude is what helped him win in 2016.
Alas, in America, Trump knows it’s all about appearance. He may rise in polling by a point or two, not enough to make a difference right now, but it does get his people fired up to vote. More alarmingly, it forces Democrats to fight his unconstitutional orders where, again, the appearance will be the radical leftists fighting against his pro-working man executives orders.
Biden is ahead in the polls right now by a considerable margin, but Democrats have underestimated Trump in the past. They’ll need to be extra careful in how they navigate these next few months. It could conceivably blow up in their face again.