The Executive Orders are Misdirection

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The executive orders signed by President Donald Trump are taking money away from Social Security. This is what suspending the payroll tax is about. This is disaster capitalism, using a disaster to enact long-held policy goals by the far right. This is not recent, for some conservatives the Social Security system has been a problem since it was enacted during the New Deal in the 1930s. It’s always been considered the third rail in American politics but the Pandemic is providing an opportunity. The president also declared that he will eliminate the system if he is elected for a second term. What they are is a way for the president to pretend he is doing something. They should partly to put pressure on Congress but are re an electoral gambit. Trump is trying to signal that he is doing something, while Congress is failing to act.

This ignores the bills that Democrats have already passed, which include funds for the cash-strapped states, school systems, the postal service, hospitals, frontline workers, and others. Senate Republicans refuse to even look at this bill and negotiations collapsed.

The president is going around the authority enumerated in the Constitution for the House and they are using the Stafford Act to try to fund this. , The House has the power of the purse, not the executive. What the president is doing is classic politics of an authoritarian with facets of supporting allies and hurting those who are against him. It is also an embrace of the type of executive orders, which Donald Trump was very critical of when Barack Obama was president. Republicans in general were and now have no problem,. Wel., with the exception of Senator Ben Sasse who called this Constitutional slop.

The irony is that the president is engaging in similar actions to what Obama did for similar reasons. He cannot get Congress to do its job because the ideological divide is that wide. Even in the midst of a pandemic. Yet, there is this factoid,. While the president is critical of Congress he has not done been this desk either, or tried to bring both sides together. It is hard to do that from the golf course, and he has not met Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for months. r. However, he knows that many Americans blame him for the current failures in the response. So this is an attempt to look as if he is acting. Let’s be brutal, he can read polls like the rest of us.

The only EO that works in a more or less transparent way is tied to student loans. The rest need a magnifying glass to understand the fine print. And what they do is changing by the day depending on the pushback the president is getting from even Republicans. Consistent messaging is not something Trump has done because this is misdirection, not policy.

So what is the problem with this? First, they are confusing. Second, it is another attack on the finances of states that can’t afford any of this. The benefit unemployment benefit was cut from $600 a week to $400 since the classic talking point that it was a disincentive to work Never mind forty-two percent of lost jobs are not coming back. This is also classic patronage which autocratic states. The reality is that the economy will not recover and that we are still fighting what needs to happen. It will cost trillions, but the nation needs to adopt similar policies to support workers as European nations, and Canada.

Every president has pushed the edges with executive orders. Barak Obama’s EO regarding dreamers is still in the courts. The question is whether he gad the authority to act in matters of immigration, or whether he pushed too far. For the moment the courts have not made a final decision on this.

Trump’s series of orders are destined to end in the courts. His attack on the power of the purse is not unprecedented, but it is the most open yet. Trump does not believe that there are limits to his power, and neither does attorney General William Barr, who will defend him in court. The latter knows that the president has almost infinite powers under the United Constitution. This is a rejection of the separation of powers at the heart of the document. Given the nature of the fight over the Department of Defense funds and the border wall, which was the first test, I expect this to last well beyond the November election. Should the president lose in November, that will be the end of this exploration, but not the end of the theory. The wall and military funds have likely been decided in favor of expansive presidential powers. According to Military News:

The Supreme Court declined by a 5–4 vote Friday to halt the Trump administration’s construction of portions of the border wall with Mexico following a recent lower court ruling that the administration improperly diverted money to the project.

The court’s four liberal justices dissented, saying they would have prohibited construction while a court challenge continues, after a federal appeals court ruled in June that the administration had illegally sidestepped Congress in transferring the Defense Department funds.

“The Court’s decision to let construction continue nevertheless I fear, may operate, in effect, as a final judgment,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in a brief dissent for the four liberals.

The executive orders that the president signed to get funds in the hands of the people are also an affront to the powers of the purse. In this sense, we can all expect this to end up in the courts, and given the nature of the courts, it will take time.

He could argue that this is to pressure his party and Democrats to negotiate a true package. Democrats passed one month ago, that deals with the issues at hand. These include state budgets, relief for people, not corporations, and yes, the post office. This is a package that comes around three trillion dollars. Realize, we are dealing with almost wartime conditions, so spending to keep the economy afloat is going to be extraordinary. Like Wolrd War Two, we will have to raise taxes on the very rich, and it will take some time to bring that extraordinary debt down. Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring this to the floor, or even to bring it out of his desk. Why? He admits that many of his members will not vote for one cent more in spending. This is the libertarian ideology of drowning the government in the bathtub that infected the republican party decades ago. And by now it is clear, they have no problem with a Republican president engaging in these authoritarian abuses. Democrats have no legitimate reason to rule. If Joe Biden wins, they will obstruct him at every pass.

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Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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