President Trump extends unemployment benefits, defers payroll tax

Donald Trump
Posted at 3:51 PM, Aug 08, 2020

BEDMINSTER, N.J. - Bypassing Congress, President Donald Trump has signed executive orders deferring payroll taxes for some Americans and extending unemployment benefits, but at a lower weekly amount, after negotiations on a new coronavirus rescue package collapsed.

Trump accused Democrats of loading up their rescue bill with things unrelated to the coronavirus. “We’ve had it,” he said at a news conference at his country club in Bedminister, New Jersey, as he signed four executive orders.

In addition to deferring payroll taxes for those earning less than $100,000 a year and providing $400 a week in extra benefits for the unemployed, he also put a hold on student loan payments and extended a moratorium on evictions.

The president said if he is elected to another term in November he would make the payroll tax changes permanent.

To cover the increased cost of the enhanced unemployment benefits, states will be asked to cover 25 percent of the cost of the additional $400 a week.

The argument for his move is that Washington’s gridlock is compelling him to act as the pandemic undermines the country’s economy and the November election nears.

This came after a last-ditch effort by Democrats to revive collapsing Capitol Hill talks on vital COVID-19 rescue money ended in disappointment. Deadlocks on aid to states and local governments and renewing supplemental unemployment benefits are blocking the way to agreement.

During his Saturday speech, the president also announced he signed two bills that have to do with expanding health benefits for veterans.

The president gave a news conference at his exclusive country club Friday evening, where members had the chance to attend.

As if it were a political rally, club members offered cheers and jeers as the president delivered broadsides against his political foes.

Members booed when a reporter suggested the news conference violated social distancing regulations put in place by New Jersey's Democratic governor.