“Executive Order” Versus “Executive Action” Such As A Memorandum

“Executive Order” Versus “Executive Action” Such As A Memorandum

 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.

Reportedly the final sticking point in the negotiations on Friday involved aid to state and local governments, which was a third of the Obama fiscal stimulus in 2009. I have signed a petition by economists going around calling for more such aid.  There was some in the first-aid package, but it is pretty much gone.  Apparently, the GOP offered $150 billion while the Dems asked for $925 billion.  There were other issues on which they were divided, but reportedly that was one there was no budging on.  Apparently, the Trumpists still think that only Blue states are being damaged by the coronavirus and the bad economy. There are also reports that a major reason Trump has done so little to combat the virus has been that he wants to blame all the problems on the governors, somehow thinking it will only be the Dem governors (and mayors).  Little does he seem to realize that for better or worse people will be holding him responsible for how this all turns out.

Barkley Rosser

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