President Donald Trump on August 8 announced that he had signed an executive order to provide $400 in extra unemployment benefits for qualifying Americans. That’s less than the $600 people were receiving since the pandemic first hit, benefits that recently expired. However, it turns out that some people might only get $300.
According to Yahoo, $300 of the promised $400 would come from the federal government. The additional $100 is supposed to come from the states. But there’s no mandate that they provide it. Thus, if they don’t, and you qualify for unemployment, the extra benefit would be $300, not $400.
Yahoo Money obtained a memo from the Department Labor, giving advice to states. In the first option, they could count money they’re already shelling out in unemployment benefits as the extra $100. The second option means states could give people an extra $100.
The president made it clear in a news conference Saturday that he believed the larger $600 amount gave people too much of an incentive not to work.
Here’s what you need to know:
Trump Clearly Promised $400 in His press Conference
Here’s what Trump said in his press conference, although he did make it clear that the states would pay a quarter of it.
“I’m taking action to provide an additional or extra $400 a week and expanded benefits, $400. That’s generous but we want to take care of our people,” Trump said on August 8, adding that the federal government will pay 75%. The question is whether the states will come up with money to fund the remainder.
There’s another issue: Some experts question whether Trump can take such action via executive function, since the Constitution gives states funding power.
Trump has acknowledged he expects to be sued over his executive orders.
In the Saturday news conference, the president explained why he went with $400 instead of $600, saying, “This is the money they need, this is the money they want, this gives them a great incentive to go back to work.” He added, “There was a difficulty with the 600 number because it really was a disincentive.” Republicans have stated for weeks that they think $600 gave Americans a disincentive to work.
Trump Said the States ‘Have the Money’
A reporter asked Trump if any states’ governors had agreed to pay the remaining 25%. “If they don’t they don’t. That’s going to be their problem. I don’t think their people will be too happy. They have the money. The states have the money. It’s sitting there,” he said. He added that he hopes Congress would come back to negotiate on more. He said he believed it would “go very rapidly through the courts.” He said if there is suit over the executive orders “it’s somebody that doesn’t want people to get money,” accusing Democrats of being obstructionists.
Trump also said he’s suspending some student loan payments through the end of the year, is protecting renters from eviction, and will defer payroll taxes on Americans earning less than $100,000, also through the end of 2020. Altogether, he signed four executive orders (but not one for stimulus checks).
Trump cast his action as providing relief to American workers.
“We’ve had it,” he said in the press conference, in which he criticized Democratic leaders in Congress. “We’re going to save American jobs and provide relief to the American worker.”
Some have questioned the legality of Trump’s executive orders. “An executive order (on the unemployment benefits) would really be a nightmare,” Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, told Yahoo Money. “It would just end up resulting in people thinking they’re getting a benefit but states being unable to figure out how to do it in many cases.”
For her part, Nancy Pelosi tweeted on August 7: “We remain committed to continue negotiating and reaching a fair agreement with the Administration, but we will not go along with the meager legislative proposals that fail to address the gravity of the health & economic situation our country faces.” She added, “We call upon the White House’s negotiators to join us once again at the negotiating table today to secure a bipartisan agreement to put children, families and workers first.” In a joint statement with Democratic U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, she said, “Millions of Americans are still hurting and yet, despite this reality, President Trump and Republicans appear ready to walk away from the negotiating table to do unworkable, weak and narrow executive orders that barely scratch the surface of what is needed to defeat the virus and help struggling Americans.”