Uncertainty about unemployment boost as Baker administration reviews Trump order

Andrew Cummings
August 11, 2020

"We're prepared to put more money on the table", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC.

Governors and state labor department officials were scrambling Monday to determine whether they could implement President Donald Trump's executive order to partially extend unemployment assistance payments to millions of Americans struggling to find work in the pandemic-scarred economy.

Caught in the middle are the unemployed who have already seen the $600 weekly bonus benefit evaporate and are unclear about what will happen next, said John Drew, president Action for Boston Community Development, which works to help people with low incomes.

"What the president has done has made it impossible, impossible on the state", Cuomo reportedly said during a conference call with reporters on Sunday. "Amazing how it all works, isn't it". "Not only do they not have it, they don't know when or if they will".

Schumer also said Democrats will insist the new package include $10 billion in immediate funding for the US Postal Service, which he said Trump wants to "destroy". "There is still a lot of things that we need to do and that we've agreed on".

(L) Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and (R) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) walk to speak to reporters after meeting with White house officials at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on August 7, 2020. Republicans and the White House rejected the proposal.

As the talks collapsed last week, Schumer and Pelosi said Democrats were willing to cut $1 trillion from their original demand for White House approval of the $3.4 trillion coronavirus aid package approved by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in mid-May.

It was not clear what authority Mr. Trump had to act on his own on the measures or what immediate effect, if any, they would have, given that Congress controls federal spending.

In Massachusetts, which has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 17.4 percent, the pool of money that funds unemployment benefits has already gone into the red by more than $350 million, said Eileen McAnneny, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

"They have expenses from the coronavirus".

The confusion and complications highlight the need for Congress to strike a deal, said David Adkins, executive director of the Council of State Governments.

"Depending on the state, we have the right to do what we want to do".

Trump began the briefing touting Monday's stock market gains in the wake of his executive orders over the weekend.

Pelosi, D-Calif., criticized Trump for not doing anything to help schools trying to reopen and she said the orders were "unconstitutional slop". This is less than the $600 people had been receiving until 31 July, when the benefit expired.

Many Republicans have expressed concern that a $600 weekly benefit, on top of existing state benefits, gives people an incentive to stay unemployed.

The president also suspended the 7.65% payroll tax for workers who make less than $100,000 a year through the end of 2020. The taxes are used to fund pensions and health care for older Americans.

Even the US Chamber of Commerce said presidential orders are "no substitute for Congressional action".

Trump also tackled student loans.

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