This weekend during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin launched an ardent defense of President Donald Trump’s plan to enact a decreased level of unemployment benefits amidst the economic crisis associated with the Coronavirus pandemic. At his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club last week, Trump signed an executive order outlining a plan for an additional $400 a week in unemployment benefits, 25 percent of which would be covered by states, and which is lower than the previous $600 a week in additional benefits. Mnuchin insisted that Democrats are “going to have a lot of explaining to do” if they challenge the executive order in court, but it’s not even clear when new benefits would be ready to go out.
Mnuchin told host Chris Wallace:
‘We’ve cleared with the office of legal counsel all these actions… if the Democrats want to challenge us in court and hold up unemployment benefits to those hardworking Americans that are out of a job because of COVID, they’re going to have a lot of explaining to do.’
Again — it’s not even clear when the $400 a week might be ready to go out. The plan is not generous; it’s meager. If the president was willing to enact this much support via an executive order, then why not more? The $400 a week — which basically comes down to $300 a week because of the expectation that states will pick up some of the tab — amounts to an apparent cop-out for Republicans amidst the ongoing negotiations over further Coronavirus relief.
‘We thought $400 was a fair compromise, we offered to continue to pay $600 while we negotiate and the Democrats turned that down… [Democrats] made perfectly clear they’re not going to agree on a piecemeal deal, they want to hold up the American public from getting the money they need until they get everything they want, which is just a bad outcome.’
It’s not about “compromise”! It’s about making sure that Americans who have lost employment because of the Coronavirus pandemic don’t go hungry or lose their homes, among other potential dangers. Mnuchin touted the fact that his side had offered to extend the previous $600-a-week add-on to unemployment benefits for two weeks, as if that’s supposed to sound generous. It’s definitely not. Mnuchin could agree to letting the American people get the money that they actually need — an aim that he accuses Democrats of undercutting — but instead, he’s engaging in this debacle.
Speaker Pelosi to CNN on Trump's executive actions: "Something's wrong. Either the President doesn't know what he's talking about—clearly, his aides don't know what he is talking about—or something's very wrong here about meeting the needs of the American people at this time."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 9, 2020