The Feud Begins
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Trump.
“Struggling Americans need action now. Since Democrats have sabotaged backroom talks with absurd demands that would not help working people, I support President Trump exploring his options to get unemployment benefits and other relief to the people who need them the most,” said McConnell.
The ink is barely dry but the feuding has begun.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a pickle after a Sasse attacks Trump’s executive orders as ‘Unconstitutional Slop’.
A member of both the Senate Judiciary and Finance Committees, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), put out a statement blasting the move.
“The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop,” Sasse charged.
“President Obama did not have the power to unilaterally rewrite immigration law with DACA, and President Trump does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law. Under the Constitution, that power belongs to the American people acting through their members of Congress,” he continued.
Executive Order Comment
Diane Swonk is Chief Economist at Grant Thornton. She advises the Federal Reserve.
The wording is not clear. What happens if the states do not put up anything? Do the states get nothing or $300, assuming the action is implemented as signed.
What About Evictions?
Trump bragged about evictions but his executive action is a "do what you can" fluff mandate.
What Will Democrats Do?
Bloomberg comments Trump’s Pandemic Relief Orders Likely to Face Legal Challenges.
One question is, who will sue? While they have criticized the orders as insufficient and impractical, congressional Democrats may view it as politically risky to block payments to Americans in distress.
“It puts the administration in a different position than what they’ve been used to,” said Keith Whittington, an expert on politics and law at Princeton. “It’s smart politics.”
But states that planned to use pandemic relief funds for purposes other than unemployment payments might refuse to comply with Trump’s directive, potentially setting up a legal battle. The president seemed to acknowledge that possibility when he announced the orders on Saturday.
“I guess maybe they’ll bring legal actions. But they won’t win,” he told reporters. “I think this will go very rapidly through the courts.”
Landlords are among the potential litigants. One of the orders Trump issued appears to give federal housing officials broad discretion to prevent evictions.
“Every legal aid lawyer in the country faced with a destitute client being evicted will slap this executive order on the judge’s table and say there should not be any eviction,” said Charles Tiefer, a law professor at the University of Baltimore. “And their landlords who have federally insured mortgages will argue back that it would be illegal for evictions to be halted.”
“The argument behind the payroll tax seems very aggressive,” said Whittington. “The breadth of the order clearly exceeds what Congress anticipated in giving the Treasury some discretion to delay tax deadlines in disaster areas.”
Attack on Social Security
One of the several orders Trump signed from his private club in Bedminster, N.J., Saturday afternoon directs the Treasury Department to allow employers to defer payment of employee-side Social Security payroll taxes through the end of the year for Americans making less than roughly $100,000 annually. Trump also said that he intends to forgive the deferred payroll taxes and make permanent payroll tax cuts if he is reelected in November.
In an emailed statement addressing the president's order, Biden said that such a move would “undermine the entire financial footing of Social Security.”
The presumptive Democratic nominee said that unlike the 2012 payroll tax plan put forth by the Obama administration, Trump’s executive order does not appear to include “protections or guarantees that the Social Security Trust Fund will be made whole.”
“He is laying out his roadmap to cutting Social Security,” Biden said. “Our seniors and millions of Americans with disabilities are under enough stress without Trump putting their hard-earned Social Security benefits in doubt.”
Lawsuits Will Fly
Lawsuits are all but certain.
A Republican governor or two may even join in. And if there are lawsuits, Trump will likely lose.
Curiously, perhaps Trump even wants to lose. Whether it would help is debatable, but he is in such a deep hole politically, he may view this as his best shot.