Saturday, August 29, 2020

Trump's unemployment scheme fizzling out, and keeping storm victims from getting help

Remember when Donald Trump announced some stunts 3 weeks ago to make some stimulative changes to the economy without having to go through Congress? I wanted to take a look at one Trump pulled on unemployment benefits, because the reality behind the flashy headlines is showing just how absurd (and counterproductive) those stunts are.

Trump made an announcement on August 8 of what was supposed to be a $400-a-week add-on to unemployment benefits. 3 weeks later, a lot is different than what headlines at the time implied. First of all, the stunt was flawed because it tried to require states to throw in $100 of that $400, and once governors and other state officials told Trump they didn't have the money to do that, they quickly backed off.
On Saturday, Trump approved an executive action that he said would provide an additional $400 per week in expanded unemployment benefits for Americans who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

By Tuesday, senior White House officials were saying publicly that the maneuver guarantees an extra $300 per week for unemployed Americans - with states not required to add anything to their existing state benefit programs to qualify for the federal benefit.

The clarification came as the odds of a bipartisan stimulus package grew increasingly dim and state leaders clamored for the White House and Congress to approve new legislation that would more directly address the expiration of unemployment benefits.

Since then, a majority of states have signed up for the add-on, even though it leaves out individuals who get less than $100-a-week in benefits. This includes Wisconsin, where Governor Evers announced yesterday that he would send their request in to DC, even if they won't get that $300-a-week for long.
Gov. Tony Evers announced Friday he is seeking to provide an extra $300 a week in benefits to the unemployed under a temporary program recently established by President Donald Trump....

Funds for the new program come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and are limited. If the agency approves the state's application, Wisconsinites would be eligible for the additional benefits for three weeks, and possibly longer, according to Evers.

The additional benefits would be retroactive to Aug. 1.

"While I am grateful to be able to provide an additional $300 to eligible claimants, Wisconsin needs Congress and the Trump administration to come to an agreement on a continued, robust response to the pandemic," Evers said in a statement.
The reason FEMA is handling this is that Trump paid for this unemployment stunt by stealing $44 billion from FEMA's disaster assistance program. It's also worth noting that nearly 27 million people are still getting unemployment benefits as of the middle of August, so if they all received the extra $300, that $44 billion would be gone with 6 weeks - around October 1.

Hmm, you think FEMA could use that $44 billion given what's happened with the weather in this country over the last 3 weeks?

We got 1 month left in the Fiscal Year, so that stolen FEMA aid is likely not available for people whose homes and assets have been damaged, or for the communities to repair the damage to infrastructure. So they'll likely be out of luck for a while (although I suppose you could print even more money to add to our already-record deficit for FY 2020).

See, this is the problem with "governing by press release". Unless you're extremely lucky, the desperation and lack of detail catches up to you after a few days, and then you have to scramble and do even more BS to try to fix the problems that you could have avoided in the first place.

That is, if these guys actually cared about anything beyond sneaking one over on the rubes and trying to trick them long enough so that they'll vote for you in November. And that is pretty much the Trump/GOP strategy today, outside of the racist hate stuff.

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