The Payroll Tax Cut and Other Trump Stuff

You’ll remember that about a month ago, Trump signed an executive order and three “memoranda” that were supposed to take care of the economy, since Mitch McConnell wouldn’t. These were: a payroll tax deferral, a supplement to unemployment benefits, a deferral on student loan repayments, and a possible ban on evictions. Let’s review how those are doing.

First, the payroll tax cut is pretty much dead in the water. It wasn’t a tax cut but a tax deferral, as you know; the taxes would still be owed. And employers didn’t want to mess with it.

More than a month after Mr. Trump signed an executive memorandum to defer the collection of the payroll taxes that workers pay to help fund Social Security, few companies or people are taking part. Trade groups and tax experts say they know of no large corporations that plan to stop withholding employees’ payroll taxes this fall. As a result, economic policy experts now say they expect the deferral to have little to no effect on economic growth this year.

The exceptions are the military and other government employees, who don’t have a choice to opt out.

The Trump administration’s controversial payroll tax deferral plan will be mandatory for military members and Defense Department civilians, officials announced over the weekend, although businesses can choose whether to participate.

The result will be that, starting with the September mid-month pay period through the end of the year, most service members will see paychecks increase by about 6.2%, but will have to pay back all of that money through larger withholdings from Jan. 1 through April 2021. Late payments will be subject to penalties, yet to be named.

Such a deal. But there’s more.

President Donald Trump pledged that service members and Defense Department civilians won’t have to pay back the extra money that will be in their paychecks through the end of the year under the payroll tax deferral plan — if he wins re-election in November.

In a Twitter post Thursday night, Trump wrote, “When we win I, as your President, will totally forgive ALL deferred payroll taxes with money from the General Fund.”

He also charged that former Vice President Joe Biden would “do the opposite” if he wins.

Presidents don’t have the constitutional authority to “forgive” a tax, of course.

In signing the Aug. 8 executive order authorizing the payroll tax deferral, Trump suggested that he might seek to waive repayments; he appeared to double down on the promise in the tweet Thursday night.

House and Senate Democrats have said that the deferral plan is a threat to the stability of the Social Security trust fund. Rep. Don Beyer, D-Virginia, charged Friday that Trump is seeking to buy votes.

“The President’s promise to forgive deferred payroll taxes if he is re-elected is open, intentional corruption,” said Beyer, a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, in a statement. “It is akin to paying people for votes.”

Of course Trump is trying to buy votes. I hope most of the government employees who see a pay increase have the sense to sock the increase in the bank so they can pay the tax back next year.

And, of course, Trump’s payroll tax cut will hurt Social Security and Medicare, and if it became permanent those programs would no doubt be destroyed. See Biden introduces a powerful new issue for 2020: Social Security.

Another memorandum was supposed to extend the supplemental employment benefit, although at $400 a week instead of $600. The idea was that the feds would provide $300 a week if the states could cough up $100. As near as I can tell, no state could provide the $100, so the Trumpies quickly revised the supplement to just $300 a week. Now, even the $300 is ending.

The emergency unemployment benefits approved by President Trump last month are already running out, leaving millions of Americans without extra support as prospects dim for a congressional deal to provide more relief for jobless Americans.

The Trump administration has begun telling states that the federal government will stop providing them the temporary $300 weekly jobless benefit, which had been a part of a White House executive directive in the weeks after the enhanced federal unemployment benefit of $600 ran out.

In recent days, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the agency funding the unemployment aid program, said the benefit was scheduled to last for a maximum of six weeks from the beginning of August. The benefit has been going to workers in 48 states, Guam and D.C.

The agency has told states including Texas, Iowa, MontanaTennessee and New Hampshire that the week ending Sept. 5 was the last covered by the additional benefit. Some states appear to have received even less. New Mexico, for example, told residents that they could expect only four weeks of payments — assistance lasting only through Aug. 22.

Again, this money was coming out of the FEMA budget, which is leaving FEMA hard pressed to do, you know, FEMA stuff. We have a few emergencies going on right now, you know.

The student loan payment deferral was implemented, and as far as I can tell no one has any objections to it.

Finally we come to the eviction ban. Trump’s executive order didn’t implement the ban; it just directed HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield to “consider” whether an eviction ban was needed. No money was provided for this. I doubted anything would be done, but the CDC actually did ban some evictions through the end of the year. However

The ban doesn’t relieve tenants of their obligation to pay rent or set up any funds to help renters meet their rent, making it likely that many will rack up debt during the reprieve. And for many, the order will just delay their eviction. And other holes in the federal protection and inconsistent state applications also leave renters vulnerable, housing advocates say.

The CDC ban does not ban late fees or interest, meaning that by the end of the tear most tenants would be sunk in a debt so deep they can never hope to climb out of it. And the landlords aren’t getting any money, meaning they might not be able to pay for repairs or upkeep. And there is evidence a lot of people are being evicted, anyway.

We need a real relief package, but I’m not seeing one as long as Republicans control the Senate.

3 thoughts on “The Payroll Tax Cut and Other Trump Stuff

  1. Cadet Bone Spurs is thrashing wildly. I think the math has caught up with him – he's only played to his base for 3 and a half years. To win he has to extend his popularity to conservative leaning (but not racist) indepnedent voters. He barely squeaked by in 2016 and he'd got to run on a record where thousands died because he lied. 

    I saw a huge "tell" today on FB. A nice lady I worked with for years at the Post Office is a huge Trump fan. She's an outlet for the pro-Bunker-Boy meme of the day. Every day. The meme de jour is that even if you don't like Trump, you have to consider taxes, 2nd Amendment and the US Supreme Court pics.  Translation: "Even if you know he's a lying bum, voter for Trump anyway." From a Trump loyalist. 

    Everybody reads the tea leaves differently but, all signs (to me) say that Trump's internal polling agrees with Five-ThirtyEight. Trump is asking his voters to try to vote twice – I see that as pure desperation. All of it is an attempt to prop up the phony narrative that things are going great. Everyone can see things are NOT going great except cultists who want to maintain the status quo (or roll the country back a few decades.) They are simultaneously in panic and denial mode. 

    Trump said "if he needs to" he'll put up his own money because donations have taken a nose dive. In a pig's eye. But it shows how stupid Trump is to remind his people that he doesn't need their donations. Meanwhile the campaign is pulling out of advertising in swing states to advertise on social media in a bid to raise money!

    All we have to do is vote. Every play Trump runs is a hail-mary pass to he end zone when he has no receivers there to score. The height of irony is that if Trump had let the experts call the shots, the pandemic would be under control and the economy well on the way to recovery. The fatal mistake was Trump expecting he could substitute the claim we're winning for actually winning. And we could have. 

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  2. tRUMP's MAGAts have such a strong loathing for "others"* – based on inadmissable strong self-loathing and low self-esteem – that they've made themselves impervious to any economic pressure created by conservative policies, largely because they've been conditioned to focus solely on social issues. 

    This is, dear boys and girls, "What's the Matter With (Fill-in your state/town:)__________________."

    *These types of people have been acting the same way around the globe since our ancient hominid cousin, Lucy, was probably out gathering with her clan long before tRUMP had MAGAt devotees.

  3. Trump is the old snake charmer. His devotees don't bother to look behind the curtain. They accept the first words that hits their ears and believe it to be fact. Just yesterday I heard a conversation that started with.."You know Donald Trump doesn't take a salary" How do you even proceed trying to knock down that kind of stupidity?

    You could try to point out that even before he was sworn in he had the RNC set up offices in Trump Tower while he collected an exorbitant rent from them. Or that he also stocked a field office in the tower with Secret Service personnel at an equally inflated rate. Not to mention how he jacked up the membership dues by $100,000 per member at his Mar-a Lago property and gave the Secret Service another location drop some more coin. The old Post Office building? Doral? Doonbeg?Bedminister? and the list goes on of all the places he milks the government for money. All of that aside, whether he actually donates his salary hasn't really been determined. It's been mentioned that he does,but the probability of that just being lip service is extremely high. And even if he does donate his salary, you can rest assured there is a scam mechanism in place where whatever he donates comes back to his coffers increased.

     He's a known scam artist and there is a vast difference between what he says and what he actually does. Remember his NYC Vietnam veterans memorial scam where he pledged a million dollars and sucked up massive amounts of publicity for his generosity and love for our veterans, then after the pictures were taken, the stories were written and the image of a magnanimous Trump was created, he split and stiffed the organization for his over the top million dollar pledge. Maybe that's why he refers the to our veterans as suckers..

    I used to think that Trump was driven only by financial gain. Now I know his greatest satisfaction and fulfillment comes by getting over on people. Nothing pleases him more than duping people, and nothing can sooth the pain of emptiness in his soul like pulling the wool over their eyes, it makes him a god.

    He a fuckin' bag of shit..flee from him!

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