Amid a Congressional impasse over the next pandemic-related stimulus package, President Donald Trump directed the federal government to provide relief for beleaguered Americans.
The president’s action Saturday (Aug. 8) from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, provides federal unemployment benefits, defers some payroll taxes, helps renters and homeowners behind on their payments and extends relief on student loans.
Under a series of executive orders, Trump provided $300 a week in additional payments to the jobless from the $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund and asked the states to provide an additional $100 through December. He temporarily deferred the 6.2 percent Social Security tax on wages for employees making less than about $100,000 a year through the end of 2020, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.
The president imposed a partial eviction moratorium and assisted with student loan payments. WSJ reported the measures applies to most of the 43 million borrowers with federal student loans. They can suspend monthly payments interest free through Dec. 31.
Evictions on properties with government-backed mortgages, or about one-third of renters, would be halted.
Three months ago, the House passed a $3 trillion package that included an extension of unemployment benefits, stimulus checks, aid for states and localities and other programs. The GOP proposal is $1 trillion without lots of extras contained in the Democrats’ bill.
Republicans and Democrats have been unable to bridge the $2 trillion chasm.
Democrats insisted the full $600 unemployment benefit, that expired last month, is essential.
The president disagreed.
“This is the money that they need, this is the money they want, and this gives them a great incentive to go back to work,” Trump said Saturday. “... There was difficulty with the 600 number because it really was a disincentive.”
The WSJ reported House Democrats discussed the status of the negotiations on a telephone call Saturday afternoon before Trump’s announcement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California on Sunday called Trump's executive actions "absurdly unconstitutional," according to CNN.
“Well, the fact is, is that whether they’re legal or not takes time to figure out,” Pelosi told CNN. “I associate my remarks with what the Senator [Ben] Sasse, who says, they’re ‘unconstitutional slop.’ Right now, we want to address the needs of the American people. As my constitutional advisers tell me, they’re absurdly unconstitutional.”
But Republicans praised the president’s actions.
“I am glad that President Trump is proving that while Democrats use laid-off workers as political pawns, Republicans will actually look out for them,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, WSJ reported.
Still, the president’s move over the weekend raised objections by Democrats noting the Constitution gives Congress the key power to appropriate money.
“This is blatantly and absurdly unconstitutional,” U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland said of the president’s actions on unemployment benefits and the payroll tax, according to WSJ. “The president is literally trying to steal away the powers that Congress has over spending and taxing.”