After weeks of fruitless negotiations the Senate left for their August recess without a final economic relief package. Many within the Republican party were opposed to any additional spending since the funds appropriated in the initial CARES Act (passed on March 6) has yet to be fully spent. An estimated $1 trillion remained of the initial $3 trillion that was authorized in the first bill. In addition some of the moneys that had been spent went to businesses that were not true “small businesses” that the bill was designed to help. A real thorn in the side of the President (and many Republicans) was the funds that went to Planned Parenthood. Some companies, when called out, returned the money to avoid public criticism. It came as no surprise that the Senate negotiations failed to find a compromise. The last ten days of intense talks with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was equally unsuccessful. I could have predicted such an outcome. The Democrats believed they had the upper hand and there was no need for them to compromise. The House had passed the HEROES Act with a $3 trillion price tag that included bailouts for Democratic cities and states and a wish list of Democratic socialist ideals including payments to illegal aliens. Schumer and Pelosi believed Republicans would be blamed if the Senate failed to pass legislation that continued unemployment benefits and eviction protection. With the general election less than 3 months away it could mean Trump’s defeat. Pelosi and others underestimated the President’s business sense and ability to wheel and deal. Trump likely anticipated these events and was prepared with a response. On Sunday the President signed 4 Executive Orders that will provide immediate economic relief to those who have been unemployed by the pandemic. Those who had been laid off due to the pandemic will continue to receive $400/week of federal unemployment payments in addition to their state benefits. The previous $600/week ended on July 31 and the lower amount combined with a payroll tax cut is designed to boost employment. The 4 Executive Orders are:
- Extending Unemployment Benefits
- Preventing Evictions
- Extending Student Loan Relief
- Payroll Tax Cuts
The President was criticized primarily for performing an action that was unconstitutional. Naturally his harshest criticism came from Democrats who were perfectly fine when President Obama wrote countless executive orders during his 8 years in office. His most infamous executive order was creating the DACA program when he stated numerous times that he didn’t have the authority to create the program but still did so. His famous quote, “I have a pen and a phone.” We have a dysfunctional Congress who can’t see beyond their party lines. In a television interview Attorney General Barr noted a stark difference from his two Cabinet appointments 30 years apart. He said that you no longer can have friends of the other party because politics has gotten so partisan. Indeed our entire country has become partisan. His goal as the AG is to remove politics from the Justice Department. If only we could remove politics from our society I think we’d all be better off.