'You better watch out if Trump is reelected': Critics warn new executive orders will 'defund' Medicare and social security

Chris Riotta
·4-min read
AFP
AFP

Donald Trump’s new executive orders faced swift backlash from Democrats — and even some Republicans — as lawmakers said the president was attempting to unconstitutionally bypass Congress after coronavirus relief negotiations stalled on Capitol Hill.

Critics decried the president latest measures, which he announced on Saturday from his golf club in New Jersey after the US Senate hit an impasse on the negotiations for a new coronavirus relief package.

The orders would cut back additional unemployment benefits the government provided during the pandemic to $400 a week and provide a payroll tax holiday for Americans who earn less than $100,000 annually, with Mr Trump saying he would forgive those taxes for millions of Americans if he was reelected in November.

In an interview on Sunday morning with ABC News, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the president’s payroll tax holiday essentially “depletes money out of the social security and Medicare trust funds”, noting how both programmes are funded by taxpayer dollars.

He added: “If you’re a social security recipient or Medicare recipient, you better watch out if President Trump is re-elected.”

The orders were described as “unconstitutional slop” in a statement sent to The Independent from Ben Sasse (R-NE), one of the rare Senate Republicans who has spoken out against the president despite receiving his endorsement.

“The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop,” the statement read. “President Obama did not have the power to unilaterally rewrite immigration law with DACA, and President Trump does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law.”

He added: “Under the Constitution, that power belongs to the American people acting through their members of Congress.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi later echoed the Republican senator, calling the orders “unconstitutional slop” in an interview with Fox News Sunday.

“While he says he's going to do the payroll tax, what he's doing is undermining Social Security and Medicare, so these are illusions," she said, calling the orders “absurdly unconstitutional.”

Republican leadership has refused to hold a vote on the Democrats’ HEROES Act, a $3 trillion stimulus package, and failed to come up with a bill that would pass a vote before previous relief measures expired for millions of Americans last week.

Val Demings (D-Fl), seen as a leading choice to serve as the Democratic Party’s nominee for vice president, issued a damning statement after the president announced his executive orders, writing on Twitter: “The American people desperately need relief. Instead, the president decided to defund Social Security and Medicare.”

Mr Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, blasted Mr Trump’s executive order cutting payroll taxes as “a reckless war on social security”.

“He is laying out his roadmap to cutting Social Security,” Mr Biden said. “Our seniors and millions of Americans with disabilities are under enough stress without Trump putting their hard-earned Social Security benefits in doubt.”