Trump Trumpets His Toothless Executive Orders

Trump held a signing ceremony Saturday to sign four executive orders he claimed provide COVID-19 relief. Not one of them does what he says it does.

The Order on evictions: It doesn't reinstate the band the expired in July. It doesn't prevent evictions. It doesn't authorize or fund assistance with mortgage or rent payments. It merely "makes suggestions to federal agencies."

Trump's executive order on unemployment benefits takes $50 million from FEMA to pay states to provide $400 a week (instead of the $600 per week the feds provided from March through July) -- which according to experts will be used up in just 5 weeks. Plus, the order requires states to create new programs, which will take time, so it's anyone's guess when anyone will receive any of this money. For those who need money now, it's no help at all. [More...]

Trump’s action on unemployment does not funnel additional money to the existing unemployment program, but instead creates a new program for “lost wages” that states will have to set up from scratch, said Michele Evermore, an unemployment expert at the National Employment Law Project. It could take months for such an effort to get off the ground.

It's all legally questionable whether Trump has the authority to reassign money from FEMA in the first place.

Next, Trump's order deferring the payment of payroll taxes from September through December just allows employers to push back the deadline for them to pay these taxes -- it doesn't cancel them. And while it which gives employers the option to not deduct employees' share of payroll taxes from their paychecks during these months, many employers may elect not to do so, "as they could be responsible for withdrawing large amounts of money from their employees’ paychecks in a few months when the taxes are due."

In other words, the order just makes for a double (or quadruple) whammy in January when the taxes have to be paid for the entire four month extension period.

As for student loan relief, that's another misnomer. Trump's order merely extends the deferral of loan payments until the end of the year. Students will still owe the full loan amounts.

Shorter version: Using Donald Trump and Corona virus relief in the same sentence is an oxymoron.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Republicans are already squawking (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by CaptHowdy on Sun Aug 09, 2020 at 08:23:21 AM EST
    About this.  "Unconstitutional slop" one said.

    Changing the tax laws seems to a big problem for them.  Or some of them.  The constitution does make the responsibility of taxing pretty clearly congress.

    Another Trump con job. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by KeysDan on Sun Aug 09, 2020 at 10:15:35 AM EST
    But, already bought by the media. One executive order signed (on some evictions) and three horatory executive memoranda --directed to executive agencies for consideration.

    The memoranda involve postponements/deferrals until a later date (e.g., student loans, payroll taxes, i.e.,social security/medicare withholding for employees. This will entail a large payroll deduction, to catch-up, at some point. If Trump somehow gets this forgiven (if re-elected) it will severely impact financing of social security and medicare.

    As for employers, The CARES Act of 2020 already defers employers 2020 payroll tax liabilities from March to December 31. However, half of the amount will become  due Dec 31, 202l, and the rest on Dec 31, 2022. There is forgiveness with a PPP loan.

    "Trump Extends Benefits." shouts the media. But, that $400 unemployment represents a 33 percent cut from the benefit that just expired. It is contingent upon the already strapped states kicking-in 25 percent of it ($100). As a whole new program, it is likely to take some time to implement.

    Of course, there is the pesky issue of legality, and, the idea of raiding the FEMA account during the hurricane season to pay for it.  

    This does not seem likely (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by CaptHowdy on Sun Aug 09, 2020 at 07:34:07 PM EST
    To fool anyone for very long.  People are going to learn pretty quick that they can be evicted.   It won't take long for them to figure out they are not getting extended unemployment benefits.   The Social Security argument seems easiest of all for democrats to make.

    Even people who are inclined to believe Trump will understand these things.

    I think.


    So........ (none / 0) (#5)
    by Zorba on Sun Aug 09, 2020 at 11:33:25 AM EST
    When do we get the obligatory statement from some media pundit that Trump is finally "acting presidential."

    Payroll Tax swindle (none / 0) (#1)
    by jmacWA on Sun Aug 09, 2020 at 05:12:20 AM EST
    OY, that payroll tax order sounds like a real swindle.  Nothing like waiting until just after the new year when many will have holiday bills to pay to take out 4 months of FICA from a check.  

    What happens to the money for anyone who leaves a job September thru December.  You can bet that anyone under employment by a Trump entity will simply have the money that was withheld go into the company's treasury.

    And there are some who still wonder why this guy's companies went bankrupt 4 times.

    Yes, a swindel--and as (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by KeysDan on Sun Aug 09, 2020 at 12:22:11 PM EST
    transparent, but not as funny, as Groucho's schemes to fleece Margaret Dumont.

     A payroll tax would infer being on a payroll.  If not on a payroll (i.e, unemployed), not so much in the way of payroll tax relief.  And, I wonder how many of those Republicans and other deplorables know that the payroll taxes support social security and medicare.

    Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin says better re-elect Trump because he will get payroll taxes stopped permanently (nice baby you got there, shame if anything happened to him).

    Otherwise you need to pay them back later. And, of course, not paying payroll taxes (i.e., medicare/social security taxes) is a pretty good way to kill those social programs long despised by Republicans....Trump continues to come through for them. Susan Collins is probably not even troubled.


    Won't do much (none / 0) (#3)
    by CaptHowdy on Sun Aug 09, 2020 at 10:09:55 AM EST
    New York Times: "If the actions signal the death of a congressional deal to provide that aid, economists warn, the economy will limp toward November without the fiscal support that hastened its recovery after its quick dive into a pandemic-induced recession."

    I do not think it is the death of a congressional deal.
    Republicans might be cultists but some of them can read polls.