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.