August 8, 2020

Trump signs executive orders on payroll tax, evictions, student loans, unemployment

[FOX NEWS, Associated Press]

BEDMINSTER, N.J. — President Donald Trump signed executive orders Saturday for a deferment on payroll taxes, an extension of unemployment insurance and a moratorium on rental evictions. The president also signed an order that would defer student loans.

The “payroll tax holiday” will affect Americans making less than $100,000 annually and will be in effect from Aug. 1 through the end of 2020. Trump said if he is re-elected in November, he may seek to extend the deferral and “terminate” the tax. The tax funds Social Security and Medicare benefits, The Washington Post reported.

“This will mean bigger paychecks for families,” Trump said.

Trump also said that $400 a week in extended unemployment benefits will be provided, with states to pay 25% of the costs. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided enhanced weekly unemployment benefits of $600 through July

“I’m taking action to provide an additional or extra $400 a week and expanded benefits, $400,” Trump said. “That’s generous but we want to take care of our people.”

In his discussion about the eviction moratorium, Trump said “it’s not (renters’) fault that this virus came into the world, it’s China’s fault.”

The measures “will provide immediate and vital relief,” Trump said.

The unemployment rate in February was 3.5%, the Post reported, but since the coronavirus pandemic it soared to more than 14% in April when large portions of the nation had to shut down.

The president also hinted that his administration was looking at additional income tax and capital gains tax cuts.

“We are going to be looking at capital gains for the purpose of creating jobs and income taxes is self explanatory, and it will be income tax for middle income and lower income people but middle income people who pay a lot of income tax, you have tax inequality,” Trump said. “I’m saying that as a Republican, and you do have tax inequality.”

The moves signaled Trump’s decision to move ahead without Congress as Democrats and Republicans remained deadlocked after two weeks of negotiations over a stimulus package. Talks collapsed Friday as the two parties remained far apart on a stimulus aid relief package. Democrats have proposed a $3.5 trillion aid package, while Republicans are pushing for a $1 trillion plan.

“(House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and (Senate Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer have held this vital assistance hostage,” Trump said at his news conference Saturday.

Trump announced the executive orders as he held a news conference for the second straight day at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The president laid out what he planned to do during a hastily called news conference Friday night.

The executive orders are certain to receive a legal challenge from Democrats, CNN reported. Democratic party leaders have said executive action would be insufficient to address the depth of the economic and public health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“If we get sued, that means someone did not want (people) to get money,” Trump said Saturday.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows met for less than two hours on Friday with Pelosi and Schumer as part of a last-ditch effort to revive the negotiations on a fifth coronavirus bill, according to The Hill.

Congress has already spent close to $3 trillion this year to deal with the pandemic, the Post reported.

Trump signed the orders two weeks after key components of the $2 trillion CARES Act expired.

In early March, Congress passed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that provided $7.8 billion in discretionary supplemental funds for vaccine and treatment research, medical supplies, support for state health departments, money for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and for the Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program.

At the end of March, Congress passed the CARES Act. The legislation funded several programs, among them money to hospitals and health care providers and a new Paycheck Protection Program aimed at helping businesses stay open and pay employees.

That legislation sent most American adults “stimulus checks” of up to $1,200 per individual, along with $500 per child. Congress also provided up to $500 billion for the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to leverage as loans and set up a $150 billion relief fund to help states, the District of Columbia, territories, and tribes pay for coronavirus response costs.

On April 24, Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. The law added $310 billion in lending authority and $321.3 billion in appropriations for the Paycheck Protection Program established in the CARES Act. Another $60 billion went for small business disaster loans and emergency advance grants and $75 billion was set up for hospitals and health care providers. Twenty-five billion dollars was set aside for COVID-19 testing.

The House passed a $3.4 trillion bill called the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act in May, while the Senate introduced a series of bills collectively known as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act. The cost for the HEALS Act is around $1 trillion.

By Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National

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