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  • Writer's pictureNathan Max

War on the Poor

Photo credit: Cristobal Herrera/EPA-EFE. People lining up to file unemployment claims in Florida in April.

Donald Trump is running the country just like he ran his businesses: Straight into the ground.

The only difference is, this time, Deutsche Bank won’t be there to clean up the mess. It will fall to all of us.

On Saturday, the president issued a series of executive orders ostensibly meant to provide relief for Americans suffering financially from the coronavirus pandemic. But a closer look shows this is yet another attempt by Trump to make life more difficult for the poor in both the short term and the long run.

The most pressing issue involves the federal enhancement to state unemployment insurance. Trump’s order reduces the amount from $600 a week to $400, giving out-of-work Americans an $800-a-month pay cut.

Republicans keep making the debunked argument that $600 a week acts as a deterrent to people from seeking jobs. Trump made the same claim at Saturday’s news conference, saying $400 is enough, as if he has any inkling what it takes for a regular person to get by in this country.

Trump and Republicans seem to think that Americans love sitting on their asses all day. We don’t. We are a nation of doers, and people are dying to go back to work, but there are no jobs to be had as a result of the government’s gross mishandling of the crisis.

Furthermore, the order requires cash-strapped states to pony up 25 percent of the cost, or $100 per week. If the states refuse, the people get nothing.

Then what?

Unlike the federal government, states don’t own a mint. They must balance their budgets every year. Trump is making states choose between giving their citizens a lifeline or financial ruin, which will lead to services being slashed and more jobs being lost.

It has been a Trump hallmark throughout this crisis to take a short-term view of the situation and not think about the long-term ramifications of his actions. Nowhere is that more evident than in his obsession to end the payroll tax, a move that has no support on Capitol Hill from either side of the aisle.

Yet, there was the president yesterday, announcing a payroll-tax holiday for individuals earning less than $100,000 a year. Mind you, this action does nothing to help the jobless people who are suffering. It will put more money into some employed people’s pockets in the short term at the expense of our long-term safety net.

The payroll tax funds Social Security and Medicare. If people stop paying into the system, it will eventually lead to a whole lot of poverty-stricken senior citizens. But that won’t be Trump’s problem. His family has already pilfered plenty from the people.

Donald Trump’s signature legislative victory has been a massive tax cut that disproportionately helps corporations and the rich at a time when the wealth gap and income inequality is at all-time high. Fake presidential candidate Kanye West once famously said that George W. Bush doesn’t care about black people. Trump doesn’t care about poor people.

Worse yet, Trump is actively trying to turn us all into poor people so his golfing buddies and next of kin can pocket millions more off our backs.

It’s unclear if these executive orders will ever take effect, as both Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse called them unconstitutional Sunday. Appropriations and budgets must come from Congress, so the president is clearly overstepping his authority.

However, once again, Donald Trump has grown used to acting like the rules don’t apply to him.

Let’s hope in this case someone steps in to stop him.


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