Trump announced that he would be extending unemployment benefits through to the end of the year, according to a hastily-announced and assembled press conference he delivered August 7. On August 8, he made good on that promise, taking action via executive order to give Americans $400 extra per week in unemployment benefits through the end of the year.
Trump also announced multiple other relief efforts, including extending the payroll tax and eviction moratorium as well as providing student loan and student loan interest relief indefinitely. Trump made these changes through executive orders, although the legality of that maneuver has been questioned by some legal scholars, Reuters reported.
The president made it clear in a news conference Saturday that he believed the larger $600 amount people were receiving previously in extended unemployment benefits gave people too much of an incentive not to work.
“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. Thus, some issues still remain despite Trump’s Saturday action. That’s in addition to the thorny legal questions that extending the benefits via executive order is likely to present.
on Saturday, Trump also said he had signed executive orders to suspend 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).
During a Friday press conference, Trump also boasted about job numbers for Hispanics and Black employment and job statistics and continued to use the controversial phrase “China virus.”
Trump Said He Would Extend Unemployment Benefits, Payroll Tax Cuts, Eviction Moratoriums & Student Loan Relief
“We must ensure the progress continues,” he said. “My administration has contributed $3 trillion in relief since China allowed the virus to infect the world. My administration continues to work in good faith to reach an agreement with Democrats in Congress that will extend unemployment benefits and provide protection against evictions,” he said, adding that evictions were “not fair” to those unable to pay housing because of coronavirus.
He said the payroll tax cut would be retroactive to July 1, 2020 and would go until the end of the year.
“We’re going to extend unemployment benefits through to the end of the year. So unemployment benefits will be, that’s a big one, will be brought out to the end of the year,” he said, adding that student loan payments and interest would be deferred until further notice. However, Trump did not state how much in benefits would be extended or whether those actions would be taken in executive orders.
“I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need and what we’re talking about is deferring the payroll tax for a period of months until the end of the year,” Trump said.
Congress Has Been Unable To Agree On A Relief Bill
Despite Congress’ self-imposed deadline of August 7 to agree to another stimulus relief package, both sides were unable to come to an agreement.
Trump released a Twitter message blaming Democratic leaders in Congress for the breakdown in communication and he also blamed them during his press conference, saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were blocking progress by trying to add ‘radical left-wing policies.
His comments were backed up by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who tweeted, “Unfortunately, Democrats continue to insist on policies which slow down economic recovery as well as insist on bailing out local/state governments. The federal government can help, but the feds should not bail out state and local governments for years – and in some cases decades – of poor decisions on their part.”
That’s despite the fact that both Democrats and Republicans support Americans receiving more rounds of stimulus checks. Fox reported that Republicans support extending benefits to $200 per week while Pelosi has said Americans will need the $600 per week as the pandemic stretches on.