I’m covering three press conferences tonight, but I first want to mention that the first two of those took place from the president’s private golf club. He once again spent the weekend golfing during the pandemic which has now killed 163,000 Americans. In 2014, Trump frequently attacked President Obama over golfing during the West African Ebola outbreak which killed two Americans. Two. Not only is the president continuing to funnel government money into his private businesses, but this weekend he had an audience made up of his own customers there to provide an audience for the press conference. Those customers booed reporters and shouted down questions so the president would not have to answer them. During the first press conference, the president was asked by CBS’s Paula Reid about his extremely frequent lie that he passed Veterans Choice, a law signed by President Obama. (He’s now told this lie over 150 times). Rather than answer, Trump abruptly ended the presser.
In today’s press conference, Trump lied about mail-in voting, Russian interference, Democrats interfering in the election, how great America is handling Covid-19, being the first to institute tariffs on China, having no ventilators at the beginning of the pandemic, Obama’s “campaign” spying on his campaign and the flu pandemic of 1917 ending WW2 which notably ended in 1945. Trump explained his previous lie that no one had ever acted to protect pre-existing conditions, a legal requirement for the past decade, thanks to the ACA by saying he was the first to protect them via executive order and issuing an executive order to protect pre-existing conditions despite already being protected by law showed how much the Republicans want to protect them. The Republican Party for a decade has been trying to remove all protections for pre-existing conditions and the Trump administration has literally argued before the Supreme Court that mandating such protections is illegal. Today he proposed a capital gains tax to affect those suffering from the pandemic. 75% of capital gains taxes are paid by ONE PERCENT of the population.
He’s announced 4 executive actions. He’s called these both laws and executive orders as he still uses the terms interchangeably despite referring to completely distinct things. Regardless, only one of the released documents is an executive order. The other three are merely memos.
In Saturday’s press conference, the president lied about support for a payroll tax cut, lied about mail-in voting, lied about saying there would be lawsuits over his executive actions (he said he expected them on Friday and on Saturday denied saying that), lied about Democrats not wanting to protect people facing eviction, and lied about passing the Obama-era Veterans Choice law.
He told the treasury to stop collecting payroll tax for those making under $104,000. There are multiple problems with this. Firstly, taxation is a power expressly given to Congress in the Constitution. The executive branch cannot arbitrarily decide to raise or lower a tax. This is only a deferral so in theory that amount will be owed at the end of the year. He wants to make these cuts permanent however going forward which he claims he’ll do after re-election. These taxes directly fund Social Security and Medicare. The president’s plan here is to run on massive cuts to the incoming revenue to social security. (Employer payroll taxes were already deferred by Congress). This is also problematic as it only helps people who still have their incomes who by and large are not suffering financially because of the pandemic.
The second memo calls for $400 a week in extra unemployment payments. The president doesn’t have the authority to simply conjure unemployment payments so he’s using a bit of sleight of hand. The money will be taken from FEMA’s disaster relief fund. If that sounds familiar, this exact idea was a plotline on House of Cards. This sounds though like a great idea until you examine the mechanics. As this is not actually an unemployment payment, the money cannot be distributed through the states’ existing unemployment systems. They will have to design a completely new system to process and handle the payments. Because this is legally disaster aid, the states are required by statute to fund 25% of the payments themselves. Several states have completely run out of cash to handle unemployment payments and are constrained from deficit spending by their constitutions. In short, they literally cannot make the required 25% payments. This entire system is likely dead in the water.
The third action, actually an executive order, regards evictions. I’ll note here that the eviction protection that was already in place from Congress covered just a small portion of people. The vast majority of renters received no federal protection from eviction. But the few that did will not actually be covered by this memo as it doesn’t do anything. All the memo does is direct HHS and, oddly, the CDC to CONSIDER if they should implement some sort of eviction ban. Meanwhile people have lost their supplemental unemployment payments and currently have no means to pay rent.
Which leaves us to the fourth action, deferring student loan payments and interest through the rest of the year. Breaking from my normal form, he both has the authority to do this and it’s absolutely the right thing to do. The last deferral was put in place by Congress, but the president can take the action himself. This is a needed action with little to no downside.
The Director of National Intelligence has tied pro-Putin Ukrainian Andriy Derkach to Russia’s attempt to interfere in the 2020 election. Specifically Derkach is providing disinformation about Hunter Biden to Republican politicians – regarding the same conspiracy theory the president keeps citing about the Bidens and Ukraine. Multiple members of congress, especially Devin Nunes and Ron Johnson, have been promoting the Russian disinformation for nearly the entire year. Johnson is currently heading the Senate investigation into it, despite being made aware that the basis for his investigation is literally a Russian attempt to swing the election to Trump. Derkach has appeared on Trump-favorite OANN and met with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The New York Times did a deep dive into election intelligence that you should read https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/08/magazine/us-russia-intelligence.html?smid=tw-share but one important take away is that after the intelligence community determined Russia was working to see Trump re-elected, the Director of National Intelligence was told to alter this assessment. He was fired and replaced by Robert Maguire, who complied.
As we near an election which will see more mail-in ballots than any in history, the newly appointed Postmaster General, a major Trump donor, has reassigned or fired THIRTY-THREE USPS staffers. He’s also been implemented changes/cuts with have resulted in nationwide mail delays.
The White House reached out to the governor of South Dakota to find out what the process is for adding Trump to Mount Rushmore.
The White House is exploring multiple options to curb legal voting by mail.
Trump has narrowed the location of his acceptance speech to Gettysburg, located in a national park, and The White House, owned by the public. Using public resources for his campaign is blatantly illegal, but nothing will happen because the Republican Party does not care what laws he breaks.
Trump said that lifelong devout Catholic Joe Biden is “against God” and Biden’s election would “hurt the Bible, hurt God.” Biden has frequently talked about his faith for decades. Trump does not attend church and cannot name a single Bible verse. When asked if he’s ever asked God for forgiveness, one of the central tenants of Christianity, Trump said he hadn’t ever done anything requiring forgiveness. Asked to explain this today, Trump said Biden was against God because of the policy agreement he signed with Bernie Sanders. Unable to offer specifics because he doesn’t read, Trump gave higher taxes as one of the reasons Biden is going to hurt God. Eighty percent of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump, the thrice married serial adulterer who bragged about how he sexually assaults women and who paid off a porn star he had an affair with weeks after his son was born. #familyvalues