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Trump's weekend orders raise criticism by political opponents, worries by economic experts

President Donald Trump's latest executive orders, announced over the weekend at a country club he owns in New Jersey, are being deemed by some as unable to implement, and by others as further crippling to already cash-strapped states.

Drawing the loudest criticism is Trump's order for additional $400 weekly unemployment benefits, of which states would be required to pay $100.

Democratic leaders in the House and Senate were quick to criticize the orders, saying they do nothing to provide the real relief needed by citizens, as well as states and local governments.

"Among several deficiencies, these orders totally leave out money for our schools to reopen safely, money for state and local governments that’s needed to fight fires, pick up the garbage or employ teachers," said Senator Charles Schumer in a prepared written statement. "Even more worrisome, the president’s actions exclude COVID-19 testing, tracing and treatment, which is at the heart of solving the pandemic crisis in the first place."

Dr. Frederick Floss, chair of the Ecomomics and Finance Department at Buffalo State College and also a member of the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority, says the most serious repercussions that could come locally are to institutions of higher education, some of which have already cut staff. He also suggests if New York State is unable to come up with the money for new unemployment benefits, something Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated is unavailable, then local schools and teachers are also likely to be affected.

“If New York State does come up with the extra hundred dollars, that means that money is not going to be available to pay for teachers to pay for hospitals, to pay for local city services. So, essentially this is robbing Peter to pay Paul," Dr. Floss said.

Governor Cuomo, over the weekend, suggested the state's obligation under the president's order would amount to $4 billion. He called the president’s weekend orders “a chapter in the book of Washington’s COVID mismanagement.”

Dr. Floss, meanwhile, believes it's a political strategy set up to allow the president the opportunity to point blame elsewhere if relief falls apart.

"This really is a political move that has nothing to do with, from an economist’s standpoint, real economic activity," he said. "Because we're going to find out that almost all of this, if you read the orders carefully, really aren't going to be able to be implemented. So it's a way for the federal government to say we're doing something while actually not doing anything.”

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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