Trump considers carrying out COVID-19 economic relief with executive orders
Share Now on:
Negotiations are grinding on in Washington over what the next round of pandemic relief will look like. The $600-a-week payments in additional unemployment payments have expired, and so has a federal eviction moratorium for renters.
But President Donald Trump has said he wants to bring back some of that relief himself. Specifically, he’s proposing bringing back the eviction moratorium and enacting a payroll tax cut all by himself, through executive order.
Marketplace’s Nova Safo has the details. He spoke with host Sabri Ben-Achour and the following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Sabri Ben-Achour: First, Nova, can you remind us what a payroll tax is and why the president wants to cut it?
Nova Safo: The payroll tax is the money that comes out of workers’ paychecks for Social Security and Medicare. The president has floated this idea of a payroll tax cut before. The goal is to put more money in Americans’ pockets and boost the economy, but it hasn’t found a lot of support in Washington from either party. Republicans notably did not include it in their pandemic relief proposal that they put out last week, which kicked off negotiations. Certainly Democrats don’t support it, and the reasoning goes that if you’re working, you’re not the one who most needs government help right now.
Ben-Achour: Can the president do what he’s proposing? Can he simply order a halt to evictions, or order the IRS to stop collecting certain taxes?
Safo: For the tax issue, not directly. A workaround idea is for Trump to declare a national economic emergency and order the IRS to postpone the collection of the payroll tax. And then after the election, Congress would pass a bill, theoretically, forgiving the uncollected taxes.
As for the eviction moratorium, I spoke to a housing specialist, Jenny Schuetz at the Brookings Institution, this morning, who said there are two federal agencies that could extend eviction protections for renters in federally-backed housing, just as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act did. Trump is ultimately in charge of one of those agencies, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but that would affect a minority of renters. Providing money to pay rent would help more people.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?
This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.
Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?
India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.
Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?
As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.
Give today and get our limited edition tote.