On Saturday, President Trump issued an executive action to extend unemployment benefits after talks between Congress to extend unemployment stalled harder than the Mystery Machine after arriving in a new, spooky location. This new order promises $400 a week in aid to unemployed Americans, down from the initial $600 provided by the CARES act, with $300 being provided by the federal government on the contingency that the States put up the remaining extra $100. It's unclear if this order will go into effect, Republican Senator Ben Sasse referring to it as "unconstitutional slop."
But what's most surprising about this, besides finding out that Trump's pet name for Ben Sasse is "Gym Rat" (*shudders), is that this might be Trump's best political move in a long time. I want to reiterate the emphasis is on political here. I'm not saying this is a good thing for the American people. Even if it is deemed constitutional and does go into effect, this executive order is kind of toothless. Money for the $300 per week is supposed to come from the disaster relief fund (DRF) and extends until December 6th, 2020, or until the DRF draws down to $25 billion. According to experts, there's no way that money is lasting until December 6th. More likely, it's going to last four to five weeks tops.
In fact, it's not even clear if and when this benefit would begin to go into effect. One could almost call this whole thing is a bluff -- a bluff so obvious you'd expect it from your douchey uncle who wears sunglasses during Go Fish games at your family cookouts and not the leader of the free world.
But that doesn't matter because the perception now is that Trump acted where Congress failed. The Democrats have once again been outmaneuvered, but not because of bold tactic or brilliant strategy, but because they're entire political plan essentially amounts to this:
Maybe it's an unfair criticism. Pelosi and Schumer have little to no leverage to pass the policies they feel are essential, but then again, you'd have to imagine that Congress could have agreed on a better deal than four weeks of unemployment drawn from a disaster relief fund. Either way, you still have to give Trump credit for taking advantage of a political situation, even if it screws over the American public to do it.
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