Hey, you know what we need right now? Donald Trump and a whole host of Republicans know just the thing to lift our flagging spirits and keep our minds off of the death and destruction they have wrought. Their priorities are, as always, exactly where they should be.
On Saturday, Donald Trump did what he loves so dearly to do—issue edicts that allow him to pretend like he’s a king that in fact do little except puff up his little ego. This time, it was in the form of four “legally dubious” executive orders that, as the New York Times put it, purport to enact “a federal eviction ban, a payroll tax suspension, and relief for student borrowers and $400 a week for the unemployed.”
As John Cassidy wrote at the New Yorker, these executive orders “won’t provide a lasting solution to any of the problems that they were supposedly meant to address” but were instead meant to “garner some headlines and give him a short-term political boost.” And while it’s unclear if he’s going to get a bump in his reelection chances, he did garner some headlines, many of which pointed to the temporary deferment of payroll taxes as a not-so-subtle way to gut Social Security and Medicare, which are funded by...you guessed it, payroll taxes:
- Trump declares war on Social Security, Medicare
- Trump’s executive orders spark confusion among businesses and state officials as Democrats assail them as ‘unworkable’
- Trump’s Orders on Coronavirus Relief Create Confusion
- Donald Trump vs. Social Security
- Trump’s payroll tax cut would ‘terminate’ Social Security, critics say
Experts doubt that the tax cut would even be passed on to those dwindling number of Americans who can count on steady work. Via the Washington Post:
And businesses, payment processors and economists signaled Sunday in the absence of a guarantee that the payroll taxes actually will be absolved, businesses would be unlikely to alter worker paychecks.
“It’s a little bit of a leap of faith on an employer’s part,” said Pete Isberg, the vice president of government affairs for ADP, which processes payments for 40 million workers and 800,000 businesses.
Isberg said it may take months for some businesses to implement a system that can defer payroll taxes for a few months, delaying any potential boost to the economy. “It’s not clear employers broadly will adopt this,” he added. “It’s not clear employees will want to take it even if they qualify.”
“I think what most employers are going to do is not pass this on to their employees,” added Josh Bivens, the director of research at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. “They’re not going to give money to the worker because the government is at some point going to come back for it.”
And the enhanced unemployment? Again, via the Washington Post:
In response to the expiring aid, Trump on Saturday signed an order that would offer $400 a week in federal unemployment benefits. To pay for the program, the president said he would tap $44 billion in federal funds that are allocated for natural disaster relief such as a hurricane or wildfire.
But states would have to contribute $100 a week to each worker’s check, with the federal government putting up the rest. Beyond the legal questions surrounding the maneuver, many states are facing severe budget deficits as they fight the coronavirus, and several economists and lawmakers said governors may be unlikely to sign onto the program.
States are currently asking the federal government to offer as much as $1 trillion in new aid to cover budget gaps. Asked if Ohio could afford the new unemployment insurance expense, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) replied on CNN: “The answer is, I don’t know yet.”
On Twitter, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said: “Executive Orders can’t replace legislative actions. States can’t pay 25% of unemployment costs. It’s simply impossible.”
And the so-called eviction protections? It’s not quite what you would think of when you hear the term “federal eviction ban.” From the New York Times:
The memorandum that Mr. Trump called a moratorium on evictions did not revive the expired moratorium that was part of the $2.2 trillion stimulus law passed in March. Instead, it said that federal policy was to minimize evictions during the pandemic and that officials should identify statutory ways to help homeowners and renters.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders continue to call for Republicans in Congress as well as the Trump administration to do the bare minimum for the American people. I salute them, but good luck!
- Read the Tribune piece on what happened in Chicago overnight after police shot and injured a 20-year-old, and then read my colleague Ashley Reese’s very good piece on looting. [Chicago Tribune]
- Millennials continue to be fucked over. [Wall Street Journal]
- Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong newspaper publisher and pro-democracy activist was arrested by police under the new security law pushed by China’s leadership. Lai predicted his arrest at the end of May in an op-ed he published in the New York Times. [Reuters/New York Times]
- And in news that should certainly alarm all of us who would prefer to avoid starting some sort of new Cold War with China, on Monday, China imposed sanctions on some of our very worst citizens—Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Josh Hawley, among others—for “behaving badly on Hong Kong-related issues.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say none of these Republican buffoons actually care about the people of Hong Kong, they just want to start some shit with China and are using Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong as an easily understandable excuse. Naturally, they’re already engaging in some chest-puffing over being sanctioned. [CNN]
- Can we blame the spread of QAnon on Facebook? At least partly! [NBC News]