Since Congress can't come to an agreement, President Donald Trump on Saturday signed four executive actions aimed at providing Americans economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic. But they face both the possibility of being challenged in the courts and of being difficult to implement. He touted that his "administration will provide immediate and vital relief to Americans struggling in this difficult time," but so far it's unclear exactly when and how that can happen. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump swooped in on Saturday to show Americans that he was trying to fix what Congress couldn't. Before a crowd of masked, cheering supporters at his private golf club in New Jersey, the dealmaker-in-chief announced four executive actions aimed at providing Americans economic relief amid the coronavirus pandemic. He signed memos and orders on student loans, evictions and foreclosures, the payroll tax, and unemployment benefits. While Trump claimed the moves would provide "immediate and vital relief to American struggling in this difficult time", upon further inspection, the four actions face significant legal challenges, implementation problems, and possible opposition from both parties. Congress can't reach a deal
The Democratic House and the Republican Senate have been fighting for weeks over the next stimulus bill. The two parties are still more than $1 trillion apart in their proposals. Meanwhile, nearly 31 million Americans are on unemployment, and the US GDP plunged by a record 33% in the first quarter. One of the biggest sticking points between the two parties was the additional $600 a week the federal government had been providing in addition to state benefits to jobless Americans. Republicans argued the weekly boost "paid people to stay home", while Democrats insisted it was necessary. "They don't understand the crisis in the country," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said of the Republicans. But Schumer didn't like Trump trying to take action when Congress couldn't, either. He and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement on Saturday that the administration's moves amounted to little more than empty gestures. "These policy announcements provide little real help to families," Pelosi and Schumer said. "Instead of passing a bill, now President Trump is cutting families' unemployment benefits and pushing states further into budget crises, forcing them to make devastating cuts to life-or-death services."
- Trump's memo on the $400 a week unemployment boost could take months to implement The weekly $600 federal unemployment insurance expired on July 31, so Trump proposed a $400 a week boost. But as Business Insider's Joseph Zeballos-Roig pointed out, the president's memo outlines a "lost wages program" outside of the usual unemployment insurance system that experts say could take months for overwhelmed states to implement. And states may not be able to pay the 25% Trump says they should.
- Trump's memo on the payroll tax could gut Medicare and Social Security, and companies probably won't follow it Even though Trump's memo directs the treasury secretary to defer payroll taxes through the end of the year, experts told Zeballos-Roig that companies will likely hold on to the money in case they end up on the hook for it, so workers probably won't see it in their paychecks. Furthermore, the payroll tax funds Medicare and Social Security, two popular programs that millions of Americans rely on for health insurance and financial support. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called the move "a reckless war on Social Security."
- Trump's order on evictions and foreclosures is light on details
Trump's housing order passionately outlines how important it is to keep Americans in their homes during the pandemic, particularly so they can successfully socially distance themselves from others and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. It also lays out how Black and Hispanic Americans have endured the brunt of the pandemic's economic hardships. It says "It is the policy of the United States to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, residential evictions and foreclosures during the ongoing COVID-19 national emergency." But the text is light on details of how the Trump administration will keep Americans from getting foreclosed upon or evicted. Perhaps more specifics will come from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the coming days. 4. Trump's memo on federal student loan relief could let borrowers defer payments until the end of the year CARES Act help for student loan borrowers was set to expire at the end of September, so Trump's memo extends his administration's policy to set Department of Education loan interest rates to 0% and let borrowers defer payments through the end of 2020. Does Trump have the authority to take these actions? Before Trump signed his signature in Sharpie, people started speculating whether he had the power to take executive action on these economic issues. The Constitution gives Congress the power to decide how the federal government spends its money. The executive branch carries out those directives. Therefore, a court battle is likely on one or all of the executive actions, challenging Trump's authority to make them. When asked about possible legal challenges at the press conference on Saturday, Trump said he believed they would go "very rapidly through the courts, if we get sued — maybe we won't get sued." Below are links to the full text of the 4 executive actions Trump signed on Saturday:
Extending federal unemployment benefits: "Memorandum on Authorizing the Other Needs Assistance Program for Major Disaster Declarations Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019" Enacting a payroll tax holiday: "Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster" Preventing evictions and foreclosures: "Executive Order on Fighting the Spread of COVID-19 by Providing Assistance to Renters and Homeowners" Suspending student loan payments: "Memorandum on Continued Student Loan Payment Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic"
Joseph Zeballos-Roig and Connor Perrett contributed reporting.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How billionaires got $637 billion richer during the coronavirus pandemic
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Kudlow said he 'spoke out of turn' when saying unemployment benefits can only be extended by Congress
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said he "spoke out of turn" earlier this week when...White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said he "spoke out of turn" earlier this week when he said unemployment benefits can only be extended by Congress. President Donald Trump signed four executive orders Saturday night to bypass Congress and provide new actions on temporary benefits concerning unemployment, student loans, evictions and foreclosures, and the payroll tax. Kudlow said Sunday morning that the administration expects a debate and the orders might end up in court, but "the president decided to take action on his own" after weeks of fighting between the Democrat-controlled House and Republican Senate. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Sunday that he regretted saying unemployment benefits can only be extended by Congress. Kudlow appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, where host Dana Bash pressed him on the comment he made while appearing on Fox Business Network that he didn't think extending the benefits could be done "administratively," but "required an act of Congress." "I'm not the lawyer and I probably spoke out of turn there," Kudlow told Bash on Sunday. President Donald Trump sparked backlash from both sides of the aisle Saturday when he signed four executive orders to bypass Congress with new actions on student loans, evictions and foreclosures, the payroll tax, and unemployment benefits. The move came after weeks of gridlock between the Democratic House and the Republican Senate over the next stimulus bill to replenish coronavirus assistance programs. "I was thinking at that point we might be able to get a deal with congressional Democrats," Kudlow said. "As you know, we were unable to get that deal. We tried a couple times. We offered compromises. We couldn't get it. So, the president decided to take action on his own." When Bash pointed to lawmakers airing concerns if Trump "way overstepped his power," Kudlow said "there will be a debate," but White House counsel Pat Cipollone has "gone through it with a fine-toothed comb." .@DanaBashCNN presses WH economic adviser Larry Kudlow on President Trump’s latest executive order addressing federal unemployment benefits which says cash-strapped states must pay 25% of $400 unemployment or federal add-on benefit won’t kick in. https://t.co/1lMvW5sSVX #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/X489W0j16r — State of the Union (@CNNSotu) August 9, 2020 Kudlow specifically defended Trump's temporary unemployment plan, which would require states to pick up $100 of $400 weekly benefit checks. He estimated that on average, individuals will get $800 total in federal and state assistance, which Bash pushed back on. "You're talking about some other money that I don't know about," Bash said. Kudlow said the administration "will stand ready to repurpose if states put in a little bit more, is all it amounts to." "We need a bit of a reality check here," Bash said. "You do agree that the only way any of this could possibly happen is if the states actually ask for it and create a whole new system." The host also pressed the adviser on whether states have the money to contribute to the order, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told "Fox News Sunday" they didn't. "States don't have the money to do that," Pelosi said about the order. "They have expenses from the coronavirus, they have lost revenue from shelter-in-place and the fact that people are not being able to go out and spend money and inject demand into the economy as they would normally." Kudlow said the officials would "find out the exact specifics today and tomorrow" of which states could afford the contribution, particularly based on "$80 billion to $100 billion" that was allocated by the CARES Act but never spent.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here's what it's like to travel during the coronavirus outbreak
With congressional negotiations stalled, Trump is issuing orders to try to get aid flowing. But it's...With congressional negotiations stalled, Trump is issuing orders to try to get aid flowing. But it's unclear whether he has the power to do so.