Under the shadow of the United States’ unfathomable covid-19 death toll, which rose for the fifth consecutive week this past week to more than 160,000, ABC News reports, Donald Trump has pushed through a number of executive orders that will still likely fail to provide meaningful relief to those who need it most.
The President signed the orders on Saturday, per NBC News, bypassing Congress, where relief package negotiations have stalled in recent weeks. Combined, those orders will defer all payroll taxes through the end of the year for anyone earning less than $100,000 annually, extend the freeze on evictions and student loan payments, and provide an additional $400 a week for the unemployed.
While those orders might seem better than nothing, the Associated Press notes that cutting payroll taxes will impact funding for all of the vital social services they help pay for like Social Security and Medicare. The payroll tax deferral also won’t help the 10.2 percent of American workers who are currently unemployed. Those individuals will benefit from the additional $400 of weekly unemployment assistance that Trump has signed off on, but that is already significantly less than the $600 a week they were temporarily getting through the CARES Act up until recently.
What if we just do the thing that people have been proposing since the early months of the coronavirus pandemic and pay everyone to stay home until the spread of new cases has been sufficiently suppressed? Alameda County in California county is trying something sort of like that, local Fox affiliate KTVU reports, paying individuals who test positive for covid a two-week stipend of $1,250 to not leave their house.
But I mean something more, like giving everyone enough money—perhaps obtained through the one-time billionaires tax proposed by Bernie Sanders and other senators on Thursday—so they don’t have to worry about work or food or bills for as long as needed in order to prevent the 300,000 covid-related deaths researchers predict by year’s end. It’s really not that complicated!