Most of the news media has reported that President Donald J. Trump has signed four “executive orders” involving extending unemployment benefits at a $400 rate, deferring (or ending?) payroll taxes for Social Security (opposed by both parties in Congress), extending a ban on evicting renters, and extending student loan deferments. An important detail not mentioned in most reports that of these three of them are not actual orders but rather memoranda, which can count as “actions,” that essentially implore others to do something that requires Congressional action in order to be done, basically the first two of these, or is already happening (deferment of student loans, although this is complicated). Only one of them is an actual order that must be followed, the one regarding evicting renters, although all this order does is to make HUD “consider” extending the ban on evicting renters. The order itself does not actually do it. In short, these orders amount to a campaign list of wannabe actions, no actual real actions.
This is all obviously the brainchild of the incompetent and brainless Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, who is apparently incapable of making any deals and totally focused on the reelection campaign. So he “blew up” the two-week negotiations with Congressional leaders by most accounts by making rigid demands. I am not going into details, but there were obvious compromises available, just to pick one on the total size of the relief package. The Dems were proposing $3 trillion based on what the House passed months ago while the White House and some GOPs held to $1 trillion. Reportedly the Dems offered the obvious compromise of $2 trillion, but that was blocked by Meadows who simply made demands and warned if they were not accepted, Trump would issue “executive orders” to do what he wants. But, as careful analysis shows, only one of these is ab actual order and even the one that is an order that only orders a department to consider doing something.
“Executive Oder,” which I guess would be a lyrical homage, makes no more sense in this context than ‘executive odor,’ so your Freudian slip was not showing, but rather just a garden variety typo. Having had some training to look for Freud everywhere, there are still times that he is not to be found. Pity. Tragedy always begs an explanation to help one sleep at night. Pure pathos of ordinary human failings is less easy to digest and far more frightening.
We will have none of that here. Take your oders outside please.
“Stop me or I’ll blow my brains out”. What a bunch of dumb asses. The hole in the economy is so big that nothing Congress does is going to be able to fill it. The $3 trillion Democratic bill is inadequate, but the fact that they were willing to do it in an election year and help to keep the economy afloat when the performance of the economy is the only metric Trump isn’t getting crushed on is notable. The fact that the Republicans weren’t screaming for more is a tribute to how far down the rabbit hole of ideological nuttery they have fallen. It could have been other priorities. Infrastructure, school buildouts etc but pump the money into the economy and keep it afloat. Only blind ideologues fail to recognize the necessity of doing that now. Failing that, an adroit politician would want to shift the blame to the other side. But here is Trump swooping in and taking “credit” for actions that are going to make everyone worse off in the near term. The economy is going to get worse, much worse. The virus is going to get worse, much worse, and he owns it all. These guys are really bad at this.
Be careful what you wish for. The wonks are not done tracing the ultimate destination of the seigniorage fee.
What if the wonks find out the poor are being hit with extraordinary charges to cover that fee? If that is the case, then we should all adopt anonymous pen names least we get blamed.
What you got against rabbits? OK, then understood, but our circumstances also say a lot for misrepresentative republicanism, wouldst that it even slightly resembled democracy. However, democracy requires enlightened engagement, either of which are scarce and in combination notably near nonexistent.
The blinkered leading the blind.
Trump’s Orders on Coronavirus Relief Create Confusion
NY Times – August 9
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s attempt to circumvent Congress to provide coronavirus relief in the absence of a broad agreement resulted in confusion and uncertainty on Sunday for tens of millions of unemployed Americans and countless businesses seeking aid after critical benefits lapsed.
As negotiations with congressional Democrats remained at an impasse, administration officials were on the defensive a day after the president’s legally questionable executive actions, at times contradicting one another as they sought to explain how the measures would work and how quickly Americans could see any form of relief.
In a series of television appearances on Sunday, they insisted that Americans would receive the aid promised by Mr. Trump, including a $400 weekly supplement to unemployment checks.
But that funding will be contingent on agreement from state officials, who are already struggling amid budget shortfalls caused by the economic crisis, and the siphoning of aid from a federal fund for disaster relief in the middle of what is expected to be an active hurricane season.
The series of measures Mr. Trump signed on Saturday were intended to revive unemployment benefits, address an eviction ban, provide relief for student borrowers and suspend collection of payroll taxes after two weeks of talks between congressional Democrats and administration officials failed to produce an agreement on a broader relief package.
But the patchwork of moves was less significant than what the president described in his news conference, and the plan appeared unlikely to have immediate, meaningful impact on the sputtering economy, in part because it provided no direct aid to struggling businesses.
Because Congress has the constitutional authority to allocate federal spending, Mr. Trump — who has frequently turned to unilateral action, as opposed to wrangling through tough negotiations — is likely to need congressional agreement, and legislation, to deliver additional financial relief to American families and businesses.
Democrats swiftly criticized Mr. Trump’s actions as an example of executive overreach, saying the measures offered thin support for struggling Americans and warning that the nation’s social safety net could be jeopardized while the coronavirus pandemic continued to spread. After two weeks of huddling with Mr. Trump’s top advisers on Capitol Hill in an effort to hammer out a deal, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, called for talks to resume.
“The president’s meager, weak and unconstitutional actions further demand that we have an agreement,” Ms. Pelosi said on “Fox News Sunday.” She rejected the suggestion that she had erred by holding out for Democratic priorities, telling the program’s anchor, Chris Wallace, that “clearly you don’t have an understanding of what is happening here.”
Talking to reporters on Sunday before boarding Air Force One in New Jersey, where he attended a fund-raiser after a weekend at his golf club, Mr. Trump said he would be willing to talk to Ms. Pelosi, whom he has not spoken with one on one since last year.
The president insisted that Democrats were “more inclined” to make a deal with him now, without pointing to evidence as to why that would be, and that circumventing Congress “works better.” He also said he did not have to “give up” anything in a negotiation.
Mr. Trump’s top economic advisers were on the defensive on the Sunday talk shows as they tried to justify the president’s authority to bypass Congress to redirect billions of dollars. They argued that Democrats, who first approved a $3.4 trillion stimulus package in May, were unwilling to compromise, particularly on sending additional aid to state and local governments.
Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, called on Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer to consider a more narrow package that addressed the issues where there was agreement, saying that negotiators had resolved most provisions except for reviving unemployment benefits and distributing money to state and local governments. (Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi, disputed that characterization.)
“We don’t have to get everything done at once,” Mr. Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” “What we should do is get things done for the American public now, come back for another bill afterward.”
He insisted that White House lawyers approved the moves as legal and dared Democrats to take the White House to court to stop money from being released to jobless Americans.
“If the Democrats want to challenge us in court and hold up unemployment benefits to those hardworking Americans that are out of a job because of Covid, they’re going to have a lot of explaining to do,” Mr. Mnuchin said.
But there was some acknowledgment that the measures could face legal challenges and were not as potent as congressional action.
A number of critical provisions are also left unaddressed without a broader deal, including a lapsed federal program for small businesses, another round of stimulus checks, aid to schools confronting the beginning of the academic year and funds for state and local governments reeling from the toll of the pandemic.
“The downside of executive orders is you can’t address some of the small business incidents that are there,” Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, said in a pretaped interview that aired Sunday on Gray Television. “You can’t necessarily get direct payments, because it has to do with appropriations. That’s something that the president doesn’t have the ability to do.”
The White House lawyers had been crafting the executive actions over the past two weeks. By Friday, after the talks remained at a stalemate, it became clear that they would need to move forward with the plan. Mr. Trump was eager to sign the payroll tax order on Friday evening, according to a senior administration official, but after his legal team said it was not yet ready, he opted to do so on Saturday at his Bedminster golf club.
Officials in recent days had been debating which measures to employ, with Mr. Mnuchin resistant to the payroll tax suspension and Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, arguing in support of it, according to a senior administration official. Although White House officials believe the executive actions have given Mr. Trump the upper hand, his advisers continue to say that more support for schools and another round of stimulus checks are needed to keep the economic recovery on track.
Among the most complicated measures is the president’s intention to revive lapsed weekly federal unemployment payments of $600 through the repurposing of other federal funds, including from a pot of disaster relief aid, to create a $400-a-week bonus payment. That payment, however, is contingent on states providing $100 per week and establishing an entirely new program — called a “lost wages assistance program” — to distribute the aid.
But states are also facing plunging revenues because of the pandemic. They have already struggled to allocate the original $600 payment because of overwhelmed and often antiquated systems, and some experts warn that the revised benefit could last for only five weeks.
Mr. Trump responded on Sunday to criticism of the $100 requirement. “It will depend on the state,” he said. “They’ll make an application. We’ll look at it and make a decision. It may be they’ll pay nothing in some instances.”
The president went golfing on Saturday with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who had tried to nudge the president toward higher weekly subsidies to supplant lost income. Mr. Trump joked that they would simply have to run the printing presses faster to make up the additional amount it would cost, a person familiar with the discussion said.
Mr. Kudlow argued that states would be able to support the demand for $100 a week given that billions of dollars allocated in the $2.2 trillion stimulus law in March had not yet been spent. But when pressed during an interview on CNN, he acknowledged that it remained unclear how much states would be able to provide and when those benefits would be distributed.
While Mr. Mnuchin said on Sunday that states could waive the $100 fee and payments could start “immediately,” Mr. Kudlow said the payments could take a few weeks.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a Republican, said he was studying whether his state government could afford to pay an extra $100 a week for unemployment insurance as required by Mr. Trump’s latest order.
“The answer is, ‘I don’t know,’” Mr. DeWine said.
He urged Congress to reach a deal that would provide a much bolder relief package, saying that “they really need to do it. They need to pull together.”
The effect the moves will have on the economy appears to be meager compared with the broader package that was under discussion, and it comes as job growth is already showing signs of slowing. The need for additional fiscal support from the government is clear, economists say, despite the fact that Democrats and Republicans are divided on how much money is needed and where to deploy it.
“Another support package is really incredibly important,” Charles Evans, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Mr. Trump’s move to curb evictions also remains murky, given that his directive does not outright ban them but instead would require agency leaders to review the necessity of such a moratorium and examine whether additional federal funds were available to provide rental assistance.
It also remains unclear whether Mr. Trump’s decision to suspend the payroll tax through December, deferring payments, would have any immediate effect. His push to suspend the tax has faced significant objections from both parties, with Senate Republicans ultimately leaving out the proposal altogether in the $1 trillion legislation they unveiled late last month.
Many companies are likely to decline to stop withholding money for payroll taxes since it is uncertain that they will ever be waived. But Mr. Mnuchin rejected suggestions from Democrats that deferring payroll taxes would lead to cuts in Social Security or Medicare benefits. The money that supports those programs would be backstopped by a transfer from the Treasury general fund, he said.
Still, he acknowledged that the payroll taxes would eventually have to be repaid unless Mr. Trump could reach a deal on legislation that would allow them to be waived or forgiven — an unlikely scenario — and that the deficit would continue to swell.
“We’ll deal with the budget deficit when we get the economy back to where it was before,” Mr. Mnuchin said.
Democrats have charged that Mr. Trump’s plans to cut or forgive delayed payments of the payroll tax, which funds Social Security and Medicare, could endanger the long-term health of those programs. By depriving the government of payroll tax funds, the move could mean Mr. Trump’s order contradicts his repeated pledge to leave Social Security untouched — which prompted harsh criticism from former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee.
“Unable to deliver for the American people in a time of crisis, Donald Trump offered a series of half-baked measures today,” Mr. Biden said in a statement on Saturday. “He is putting Social Security at grave risk at a time when seniors are suffering the overwhelming impact of a pandemic he has failed to get under control. And make no mistake: Donald Trump said today that if he is re-elected, he will defund Social Security.”
The president’s top aides also strained to defend his sweeping use of executive authority, which Mr. Trump derided when used by his predecessor, President Barack Obama. …
Trump’s Directives Were Supposed to Offer Relief. Most May Not
NY Times – August 9
Because Congress controls federal spending, at least some of the measures will almost certainly be challenged in court. Or they may become moot if Congress reaches a deal.
President Trump, in announcing his executive measures on Saturday, said he was bypassing Congress to deliver emergency pandemic aid to needy Americans. But his directives are rife with so much complexity and legal murkiness that they’re unlikely, in most cases, to bring fast relief — if any.
Because Congress controls federal spending, at least some of Mr. Trump’s actions will almost certainly be challenged in court. They could also quickly become moot if congressional leaders reach an agreement and pass their own relief package. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California on Sunday dismissed Mr. Trump’s actions as unconstitutional and said a compromise deal was still needed. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would be open to further talks with Democratic leaders: “Anytime they have a new proposal, I’m willing to listen.” …
Methinks we’re going to hear A LOT in the next three months about Donald Trump taking action to protect the American consumer while Congress, handicapped by Democrats, was unable to act. It’ll take more than three months for voters to notice that Trump actually hasn’t improved matters and by then the election will be over. What else matters?
Of course this is politics, not economics. I should shut my mouth.
Essentially what Trump is proving is that if a rogue POTUS has the Senate in his back pocket, he is a dictator and there is no such thing as separation of powers unless he decides to give up power. Combine the spinelessness of the Senate GOP and the ideological agendas of the right wing SCOTUS majority and you no longer have a tripartite government, you have government by decree.
I doubt voters care about toothless XO’s. When the 6 figure gang starts losing their job, the split between salary vs wage will end. You won’t be working from home, you won’t be working.
Governors were critical of Trump’s order on pandemic relief, saying it would put serious strain on their budgets.
NY Times – August 10
Governors across the United States struggled on Monday with how to make good on President Trump’s order that their economically battered states deliver billions more in unemployment benefits to jobless residents.
Democrats were harshly critical of Mr. Trump’s order, which he signed on Saturday night after talks with Congress on a broad new pandemic aid package collapsed. But even Republican governors said the order could strain their budgets and worried it would take weeks for tens of millions of unemployed Americans to begin seeing the benefit.
Congress initially provided a $600-a-week supplement to unemployment benefits when the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the United States in March. But that benefit lapsed on July 31, after talks between the White House and Congress broke down. Republicans had pushed for a $400 supplemental benefit, Democrats said it was not enough, and so on Saturday Mr. Trump ordered the $400 benefit — but said it was contingent on states to come up with $100 of that on their own.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York told reporters on Monday that Mr. Trump’s order would cost his state about $4 billion by the end of the year, making it little more than a fantasy. He said that no New Yorker would see enhanced unemployment benefits because of the president.
“This only makes a bad situation worse,” Mr. Cuomo said. “When you are in a hole, stop digging. This executive order only digs the hole deeper.”
His comments were echoed by Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky, a Democrat like Mr. Cuomo, who said Mr. Trump’s order would cost his state $1.5 billion through the end of the year.
“It’s not workable in its current form,” Mr. Beshear said. “It’s something virtually no state can afford.”
It is ironic that probably the major sticking point in the negotiations when they collapsed last Friday between Pelosi and Schumer on the one hand and Mnuchin and Meadows on the other was over aid for state and local governments, but here goes Trump rather than helping out the states with their impending funding shortages he attempts to increase the burden on them.
The presidency cannot force the Congress to legislate especially when the President unfaithfully executes the public’s law as it is, using it as a forcing weapon.
The President has a duty to deal with legislation when presented to him/her; the Constitution’s presentment clause defines ‘independence’ of the executive. Legislation defines the Congress and its independence.
IMO, this President is acting unlawfully, and the courts need to make this plain for all to understand now and for the future.
If you want to pursue a policy agenda speak out as any person can in the US, ask a member of Congress to introduce a bill your staff has fashioned for you, help to lead a good public discussion to push for a new public law enactment to be presented to you. Lead within our form of government.
I shot you an email. In the past, you had said you were having issues using your cell phone to get into Angry Bear. WE would like to make it easier. Can you give me some info please.