CORONAVIRUS USA

Trump executive orders: is a second stimulus check coming?

After the Democrats and Republicans failed to reach an agreement on the latest relief package, President Trump signed several executive orders.

Second stimulus check: ¿puede Trump ejecutar la orden de pago? 
JOSHUA ROBERTS REUTERS

Friday 7 August. It was the date set as the deadline for Republican and Democrat leaders to come to an agreement on the latest relief package to support millions of businesses and households around the United States who were struggling to deal with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Did they manage it? No. What happened next? President Donald Trump signed a selection executive orders to provide something.

Trump's executive orders not delivering the goods

Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, had already indicated that there had been little progress in the negotiations, where, we are told, the Democrats moved from their starting position of $3 trillion down to $2 trillion, but the Republicans held firm at their proposal of around half of that. That was never going to be enough to meet the needs of the Americans for Nancy Pelosi.

Step forward Donald Trump and his execute orders, which he had already threatened as negotiations faltered, and a Saturday evening signing event at his golf property in Bedminster, New Jersey. He hadn't been slow in blaming Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Shumer for being responsible for the failure to reach an agreement as he bypassed Congress.

"If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need," he said on Friday.

Asked about the prospect that he will face legal challenges if he takes such measures without the approval of Congress, Trump said: "You always get sued. Everything you do you get sued. But people feel that we can do it."

Trump's loyal followers 'believe' he's doing the right thing for them, but will they actually feel any benefit? WalkAway rally at Beverly Gardens Park on 8 August 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.

And he wasn’t just posturing, as we saw, so we’ll be watching closely to see if action is indeed taken against the president for spending taxpayers’ money without the express approval of Congress. As has often been the case, the self-confessed best negotiator has chosen to just stamp his perceived authority instead of actually debating.

Second stimulus checks: can Trump sign off?

The executive orders that were signed included: a continuation of the unemployment benefit agreed as part of the CARES Act (although he cut it by a third from $600 to $400, and asked states to pick up 25% of the cost); a payroll tax cut (unpopular with many on both sides of the aisle; protection for evictions; and a freeze on student loan interest repayments.

The president said that these new orders would “take care of pretty much this entire situation, as we know it,” but there is a real sense that few believe him. Even his Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows stated that “this is not a perfect answer. We’ll be the first ones to say that.” He then added, “It’s all that we can do and all the president can do within the confines of his executive power.”

And this is a key limitation.

As many American eyes were focused on the prospect of another round of Economic Impact Payments, commonly referred to as stimulus checks, the reality sank in that these were not part of Trump’s deliverables. We now wait to see if they - along with support for a postal service and states struggling to cope ahead of the elections, as well as aid for schools looking to reopen - can be rescued soon with continued negotiations through the coming week…or at all.