From executive actions from last weekend really accomplish? That’s a question Americans seeking are hoping to answer.to pausing payroll taxes and giving unemployed people , what can President Donald Trump’s
The four executive “orders” (really one order and three memoranda) promise to provide more assistance to Americans hurting financially from the . But what do they cover and what do they leave out? And why do the executive actions have the Democrats riled up?
“The government is going to have to commit resources to fight this disease and the economic devastation it has wrought. Executive orders cannot do that, and therefore will always be insufficient, especially those crafted in such a poor way as these,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
Critics suggest the newly signed orders fall short in key ways and they don’t cover a. We break down all four of the new directions, how they could be of assistance, what the gaps are and why some of them might not come to fruition.
$400 unemployment benefit, with a catch
What it is: Following Trump’s memorandum, the federal government would contribute $300 of the (down from the , which ended July 31). Individual states — already pinching pennies amid the coronavirus outbreak — are responsible for the remaining $100 per person per week, retroactively starting Aug. 1.
During a press conference on Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that benefits could arrive for qualifying people “within the next week or two.” Governors have pushed back on footing 25% of the bill, with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo calling it “laughable.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom also voiced concern of the orders on Monday. Newsom said that huge budget cuts would be needed to implement Trump’s plan. He estimated that matching 25% for unemployment benefits would cost California around $700 million per week.
“It would create a burden the likes which even a state as large as California could never absorb without, again, massive cuts to important services,” Newsom said during a press conference.
How the unemployment benefit would be funded: Trump is unilaterally seeking to use leftover or unspent FEMA funds to pay unemployment benefits. Experts predict this year’s hurricane season will see an “extremely active” series of storms. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, hurricanes can cost upward of $22 billion per storm.
Could there be a legal challenge? This executive action could be challenged legally since the Constitution gives Congress control over federal spending. As such, Trump doesn’t have the legal authority to issue binding executive orders about how money should be spent during the coronavirus pandemic.
Eviction order protections: Discussed, but not renewed
The language of the executive order — the only true order out of the four — is complicated, but definitive. It up to 40 million Americans could lose their homes as a result of the . That’s 12% of the total US population.. In fact, the Aspen Institute suggests that
“We are stopping evictions. We are not letting people be evicted,” Trump said Tuesday in a press conference. The president did not specify exactly how.
The current directive leaves the decision to ban evictions in the hands of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, taking no official stance itself. It also doesn’t say if it will provide financial assistance to renters, leaving that decision to Mnuchin and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.
In comparison, thebanned until July 25 on properties backed by federal mortgage programs like Fannie Mae, or those that receive federal funds like HUD. The Republican-authored HEALS Act didn’t address stipulations on evictions.
Student loan payment deferral extends original deadline
The White House’s memorandum on student loan deferral moves to waive student loan interest until Dec. 31, extending the current relief under the CARES Act that is set to expire Sept. 30 by two months. Payments are scheduled to restart on Jan. 1, 2021.
There’s a catch: Trump’s memo applies to loans “held by the Department of Education,” which doesn’t include privately held student loans, such as through a bank.
The contentious payroll tax cut: How it works
A pet project of Trump’s that he’s been pushing for months, the “payroll tax holiday” seeks to defer your federal tax withholding, which means you’d take home more money per paycheck — temporarily. Since this is a deferral and not tax forgiveness, you would still have to pay those taxes after the deferral period passes, though without having to pay additional interest or tax. The memo includes language to explore avenues for eliminating the deferred tax altogether.
The fine print: Trump’s memorandum covers a four-month period from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, for people earning less than $100,000 a year, or less than $4,000 every two weeks (pretax).
The memo’s language specifies that Mnuchin, as Treasury secretary, can exercise his authority to “defer the withholding, deposit and payment of the tax.” According to the US Code cited, Mnuchin could extend this for one year.
Payroll taxes fund social security and Medicare.
Could Trump be sued? Congress is authorized with writing and passing laws regarding financial decisions. The White House can’t forgive taxes without Congressional approval. Trump signaled Aug. 7 that he’s unconcerned with being sued.
“Well, you always get sued. Everything you do, you get sued,” he said.
How could an executive order differ from legislation?
So far, the executive actions signed by Trump will cover only the four topics above, rather than the large scope of either the an executive order won’t go far enough.. Democrats have said that
On Monday, Schumer pointed out specifics that the orders lacked. While there could be action taken on this in the future, to date, Trump’s newly signed policies fail to address:
- Testing, tracing and treatment of COVID-19
- Money needed to safely reopen schools and provide PPE (personal protective equipment)
- Food assistance
- Aid for local and state governments
- Money ensuring that elections can be safely carried out
- Money to keep post offices open for elections
Will negotiations over the stimulus package continue?
Both Democratic and White House negotiators are open to talks continuing. “If we can get a fair deal, we’re willing to do it this week,” Mnuchin told CNBC Monday.
If talks do resume this week or next,legislation could presumably go to a vote in one chamber later this month. Both chambers must vote before the legislation lands on Trump’s desk for his signature. If a deal is reached in the coming weeks, it’s also possible that the executive action will be null and void.
If you’re looking for more information, we’ve looked atand compared the stimulus proposals.
Lori Grunin contributed to this story.