After what was described by both Republicans and Democrats as an “unproductive meeting,” Trump has signed four executive orders potentially aiding in Coronavirus relief. The orders aim to temporarily extend unemployment aid and provide eviction protections.
What We Know:
Meetings regarding the next Coronavirus relief package, the HEROES Act, have been ongoing for the last two months. Conversations have been unable to produce a new relief package, one many Americans need as the first wave of benefits from the CARES Act expired on July 30th. “Through these four actions, my administration will provide immediate and vital relief to Americans struggling in this difficult time,” stated Trump.
Here are the focuses of the four executive orders:
- Federal Unemployment Benefits Extension
- Payroll Tax Suspension
- Eviction Moratorium Extension
- Student Loan Assistance
Federal Unemployment Benefits Extension
The first executive order aims to provide $400 weekly in aid for millions of citizens who’s $600 weekly benefits expired at the end of July. Trump states that at least a percentage of the money would be paid by states, many of which have already dealt with major budget cuts and shortfalls. Governors have pleaded with Congress for additional aid.
However, according to an unemployment insurance expert, Michele Evermore, “States cannot pay unemployment insurance benefits in a way that has not been authorized by Congress through enactment of legislation. By definition, states’ administration of unemployment insurance must conform to federal law — and there is no federal law on the books allowing for an additional sum.”
Payroll Tax Suspension
Another order seeks to defer payroll tax payments from August 1, retroactively, through December for people who earn less than $100,000. The president further claimed that if he was re-elected, he would “terminate” the tax. US payroll tax funds Social Security and Medicare benefits, there was no guidance on what would happen to those programs without it.
Eviction Moratorium Extension
The eviction moratorium provided in the CARES Act provided protections to those living in buildings with mortgages guaranteed by the federal government. The third order would potentially extend these protections and offer assistance to renters and landlords. Unfortunately, no further details were provided on this.
Student Loan Assistance
One protection from the CARES Act set to expire on September 30th of this year is the 0% interest rate on student loan payments. The final order would extend this administrative forbearance through the end of 2020.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate decreased to 10.2% with the number of unemployed Americans falling by 1.4 million. Despite this, the overall unemployment rate is up by 6.7%, equating to approximately 10.6 million Americans.
The United States currently ranks #1 globally in Coronavirus cases with over 4.9 million confirmed cases and over 161,000 deaths as of the time this article was written. For context, the second highest globally is Brazil with over 2.9 million confirmed cases and just over 100,000 deaths. India ranks third at just over 2 million cases and over 42,000 deaths.
Details were not provided and it remains unclear what, if any, authority Trump has to act on his own to release or redirect funds. With no clear guidance on when these orders would take effect for the many Americans waiting, Trump stated if negotiations are still stalled by the end of the coming week, these orders will possibly take effect then.