Rather than call on Congress to put together a comprehensive and lasting bailout of the working class, President Trump signed four meager executive orders on Saturday, August 8th, nominally for the purpose of providing relief to working class families. The executive orders target four policy areas: unemployment insurance, payroll taxes, the eviction crisis, and student loan payments. Even though SDS supports the extension of unemployment insurance and eviction moratoriums, we believe that we will need to organize and fight for these relief policies to be actually implemented and that it will require action in the streets. This is because of Trump’s track record of minimal relief and empty promises, because Congress controls budget appropriations, and because in this case an executive order alone has no teeth.

One of the orders extends the expired unemployment insurance of $600 per week, and reduces it to $400 a week, whilst mandating that budget strapped states pay 25% of the cost. There is no plan for how states are expected to come up with the money for this..

Another order deferred payroll tax payments by employers through 2020 for employees earning less than $100,000 a year. Because the tax payment is only deferred to be paid later, employers are likely to continue withholding the payroll taxes from paychecks. However, Trump also touted the idea of making this tax cut permanent, a move that would decimate the already struggling Medicare and Social Security, programs which many working families depend on for basic needs, and which would deepen mass poverty and suffering in the long run..

With 30 to 40 million tenants facing eviction in the coming months, Trump’s order does not extend the moratorium on evictions in federally subsidized housing. Rather, the executive order calls on the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development to find a way to curb evictions that could further the spread of the pandemic. This by no means is a halt on evictions and the tangible outcomes of this executive order for those facing eviction are wholly unclear..

Finally, his last executive order extends the deferment of student loan payments on federal loans through 2020 and waives all interest on such loans until 2020. This executive order is not student loan forgiveness by any means but will only provide temporary relief for many..

Altogether, these executive orders are nothing more than political theatre and an empty effort to deflect blame for the pandemic and economic crisis away from his administration. Trump has only offered empty promises with no proposed funding. What working class families need is guarantees of housing, healthcare, and food, the right to not risk their lives working meaningless jobs that only put profit in the pockets of the few. This series of executive orders is quite frankly a distraction from the looming crisis and a slap in the face..

Hundreds to thousands of working people of New Orleans, Portland, New York City, and countless other cities organized protests calling for extended unemployment benefits and to cancel rent. These protesters are the ones who put these demands in the public eye and forced Trump’s hand. They have blocked courthouses to prevent property owners and landlords from filing evictions. They have made it clear that they will not take impending poverty and homelessness lying down, in the wake of what looks to be a deepening economic depression. Whether downtown or on campus, SDS resolves to mobilize students to support this fight, for extended unemployment, rent cancellations and eviction moratoriums, and real economic relief, and to take the fight to the people and the streets, where it began, where it continues, and where it belongs.