On August 8, the White House issued one Executive Order (EO) and three memoranda to purportedly offer relief to Americans who are suffering the economic consequences of the continuing coronavirus pandemic. The orders are ineffective and lack the power to turn the words into protective action:
Eviction Moratorium: It is a suggestion to various federal agencies to consider action, not a protective order for people in danger of losing their homes. The EO merely orders the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to consider whether any temporary eviction moratoriums are necessary. However, court cases and evictions will continue until some action is taken.
Unemployment Insurance: The supplement was reduced to $400 per week and relied on states allocating $100 of that. It has since been reduced to the $300 Federal share only, to be funded by dubiously referenced sources of funds that may or may not be available. The memorandum first required that broke states pay a portion when they may not have the capability to do so. The White House later backed off, reducing the amount further. The White House is also attempting to reallocate FEMA money in a manner that may not be possible. Implementation cannot happen in any immediate time frame, if it can at all.
Payroll Tax Cut: This defers payroll taxes without eliminating them, they are still due at the end of December 2020. Trump has stated he will forgive them “if” he wins in November. More immediately, this does not help unemployed workers at all, as they are not subject to payroll tax.
Most frightening is that Trump has “promised” to make the payroll tax cut permanent, which raises the threat that Social Security and Medicare could lose 90% of their funding, rendering them unsustainable. Trump and the Republican Party have long had the goal of eliminating Social Security and Medicare. These EOs appear to be a first step, taken under the guise of pandemic aid.
In short, the White House is setting the stage to remove Social Security and Medicare, since the New Deal has kept seniors out of poverty, and is doing this while Americans are suffering sudden, immense, economic insecurity and uncertainty that rivals the Great Depression.
Michigan United calls on the U.S. Senate to pass the Heroes Act in order to establish effective economic relief, and to eliminate the confusion and the detriment to the Social Security system that these EOs threaten.