Experts Warn Trump Executive Action on Unemployment Insurance Deliberately Leaves Out Poorest Americans


Summary generated on August 10, 2020

    On top of serious questions about the directive's legality and workability, experts are warning that President Donald Trump's executive action to extend the federal unemployment insurance boost at $400 per week-using $44 billion in funds meant for disaster relief-leaves out the poorest Americans by design.

    The language of Trump's unemployment memorandum issued over the weekend defines "Eligible claimants" as those receiving "At least $100 per week" in state unemployment benefits-meaning that laid-off workers currently receiving less than $100 per week in aid will not see a dollar in federal relief unless states agree to increase their benefits.

    Even if state governments sign onto the program, the jobless benefits might be out of reach for Americans in greatest need: Only out-of-work Americans receiving more than $100 a week in state unemployment insurance are eligible for the federal aid.

    The Post Jeff Stein noted that one estimate suggests Trump's unilateral unemployment insurance boost "Will block payments from going to 10-15% [of the] lowest-earning UI recipients."

    Trump's directive calls for a $400-per-week boost-a significant cut to the previous $600 level-to what out-of-work Americans are receiving in state unemployment benefits.

    As analysts hastened to point out, Trump's plan would require states to kick in 25%-$100-of the $400 total, a difficult task for states reeling from massive budget shortfalls and administrative deficiencies.

    "It's a difficult proposition for states to implement in a short period of time," Stettner told USA Today.

    "States had already struggled to get unemployment money in the hands of out-of-work Americans. This will disappoint workers. They think they'll get that $400 next week, but they're not."

    In a statement on Saturday, National Employment Law Project executive director Rebecca Dixon said "States that have the most sophisticated systems may be able to stand up this program eventually, but those states that have been faltering due to decades of neglect or outright sabotage will be less likely to see any of this money."

    "This is not a serious approach to solving a very serious problem," Dixon said of the president's executive action.