White House Modification May Cut Another $100 Before $400 Unemployment Benefit Extension Even Starts

President Trump’s executive action to provide a $400 weekly unemployment benefit extension is … [+] already being modified by White House officials. The result is that many Americans may only see a $300 bonus, a 50 percent reduction from the $600 amount they were receiving thru the end of July.

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An unequivocal pronouncement last Saturday by President Trump that unemployed individuals would see $400 per week in benefits has already been amended by White House officials. The result is that millions of unemployed Americans may only see $300 in enhanced weekly unemployment benefits, a 50 percent reduction from the $600 weekly federal bonus that was disbursed until the end of July.

The unemployment assistance memorandum issued by President Trump called for the federal government to cover 75 percent of a new $400 weekly benefit and for states to use money from their Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) or other programs to cover the rest. As The Washington Post noted, “that was interpreted by many states to mean that they would have to provide an additional $100 per week for their residents to qualify for the benefit.”

President Trump’s verbatim comments also aligned with this. During a news conference on Saturday from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, he remarked, “I’m taking action to provide an additional or an extra $400 per week in expanded benefits: $400. Okay? So, that’s generous, but we want to take care of our people. Again, it wasn’t their fault; it was China’s fault.”

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“States will be asked to cover 25 percent of the cost using existing funding, such as the tens of billions of dollars available to them through the Coronavirus Relief Fund. Under this plan, states will be able to offer greater benefits if they so choose, and the federal government will cover 75 percent of the cost. So we’re all set up. It’s $400 per week,” he added.

MORE FROM FORBESWill $400 Unemployment Extension Start Soon? Don’t Count On It, Despite Trump’s Executive Order

There was immediate bipartisan blowback about the incremental state contribution to cover unemployment benefits given hemorrhaging state budgets. On CNN, Governor Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) was asked if his state could afford the new unemployment benefit. “The answer is, I don’t know yet,” he replied. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-New York), tweeted, “executive Orders can’t replace legislative actions. States can’t pay 25% of unemployment costs. It’s simply impossible.” Cuomo and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who jointly head the National Governors Association, issued a statement saying they were “concerned about the significant administrative burdens and costs this latest action would place on the states.”

Responding to the mounting criticism about the state contribution, White House officials appear to be tweaking guidance as to not require new money from the states. White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow suggested during a Tuesday interview on Fox News that the directive will be amended so that states would not have to put up incremental funds in order for unemployed Americans to qualify for the $300 federal benefit. “We modified slightly the mechanics of the deal,” Kudlow said. “States can still, if they put another $100 in to raise the benefit more generally, that’s fine. … Any state who put in $100 before, and every state did, they will then qualify for the extra $300.”

While this may appease governors, it also changes Trump’s original promise of a $400 weekly benefit. Now workers may only see $300 extra each week, a $100 cut from Saturday and a $300 cut from what they saw before the end of July. While some states may chip in more, many presumably will not given forecasts of significant budget shortfalls and the need to spend millions to continue fighting coronavirus outbreaks.

For Americans who haven’t received a federal unemployment payment since July 25, the promise of even $300 may be welcome news, assuming states can actually implement the changes quickly. However, for millions who are out of work and struggling to find a job, the White House modification could be interpreted as yet another pay cut from the $600 they were receiving only a few weeks ago.

Further Related Reading:

Will $400 Unemployment Extension Start Soon? Don’t Count On It, Despite Trump’s Executive Order

Only Road To Second Stimulus Check, Real Unemployment Benefit Extension Runs Thru Congress

$1200 Second Stimulus Check Would Dominate Average Payroll Tax Holiday ‘Savings’

Trump Signs Executive Orders: Extends Federal Unemployment Benefits At $300 Per Week, Protects Against Evictions, Defers Student Loan Payments, Suspends Payroll Tax

McConnell: Stimulus Package Could Take ‘Weeks’ To Pass

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