With the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House unable to agree on a new pandemic relief bill, President Trump took matters into his own hand and signed four orders/memorandums. With all executive action, there is concern about presidential overreach and constitutional questions, on top of that, the specific measures taken by President Trump were not well received as they are likely to create more confusion than cash.
- Tax Deferrals- From September 1st to December 31st companies may defer payroll taxes for workers making less than $100,000 a year. Since those taxes will come due eventually it is unlikely companies will shift to withholding this tax. Though the president would like to make this tax cut permanent, it is far from certain, nor is it a particularly popular cut as it is directly tied to Social Security funding.
- Jobless Benefits- Th $600 a week additional jobless benefit expired in July. This will be replaced with a $400 a week benefit. The state will be required to pay 25% of this benefit. The federal portion will be covered using $44 billion of the existing $70 billion Disaster Relief Fund. There is concern over how long the federal cash will last as well as the state’s ability to meet their portion. In New York, this would cost the state an additional $4 billion.
- Memorandum on Evictions-Expands the congressionally approved version that was part of the initial pandemic relief bill and extends eviction protections for renters in federally backed housing. Those who live in buildings with federally backed mortgages or loans would be shielded from eviction proceedings as well. Out of all the executive actions this one received the most support and is the least likely to be challenged in court.
- Student Loan Relief- This continues the pause on monthly payments and interest for many federal student loan borrowers until the end of the year.
Hopefully, some of these measures can help Americans in need but much more is needed and that has to come from Congress. Small businesses, schools, infrastructure projects, municipal budgets, the unemployed, renters, and homeowners alike still face daunting challenges in the wake of the pandemic.