On Saturday, President Trump signed several executive actions, pitching them as a jolt to a suffering economy. However, almost none of the orders are likely to happen.
According to The New York Times, the measures include an eviction moratorium, a $400 monthly benefit to supplement unemployment assistance for workers, and a temporary delay in payroll tax liability for low- and middle-income workers. The measures could give renters a break and ease payments for some student loan borrowers, but are unlikely to put much-needed cash into the hands of Americans.
Trump’s own advisers say the orders will not provide any aid to small businesses, state and local governments, or low- and middle-income workers. Additionally, conservative groups have cautioned that suspending payroll tax collections is unlikely to translate into more money for workers and the moves are almost guaranteed to be challenged in court.
Even the $400 monthly benefit Trump touted is coated in controversy. For starters, states are required to pay 25% of the benefit for their citizens. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the plan “laughable” as it would cost the state, which projected a $13 billion shortfall in April for the 2021 fiscal year, $4 billion.
“The concept of saying to states, you pay 25% of the insurance, is just laughable,” Cuomo told reporters. “It’s just an impossibility. So none of this is real on the federal side. This is going to have to be resolved.”
The Paycheck Protection Program also expired last weekend. Executives, trade groups, and business lobbyists have pushed hard for a second round of lending for businesses and industries hit hardest in the crisis, also acknowledged Trump’s executive actions will do little to help them.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, acknowledged the limitations around Trump’s executive order in an interview on Full Court Press With Greta Van Susteren.
The payroll tax cut Trump has been pushing for will only suspend the tax. Workers will still owe the tax, just not until next year. Stephen Moore, a Trump economic adviser, said Trump could promise to sign a law that would permanently absolve workers of that liability, but Congress is unlikely to go along with the plan because it will directly affect Medicare and Social Security.
“Without detailed answers to some of these questions,” Joe Bishop-Henchman of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation wrote, “employers might just steer clear of all of it by continuing to do what they’ve always done, blunting the desired economic impact of reducing taxes.”