Donald Trump’s unilateral effort to boost the US recovery through executive actions this month has failed to deliver significant amounts of money to households, darkening the fiscal picture for the world’s largest economy.
The president pledged on August 8 to deliver “immediate and vital relief” to struggling Americans after $600-a-week in emergency jobless benefits expired on July 31 and negotiations broke down with congressional Democrats on a stimulus deal. Acting on his own, Mr Trump said he would provide up to $400 a week in extra aid to unemployed Americans.
Two weeks later, Treasury department figures show that the executive actions are providing only a tiny fraction of the previous emergency aid, even though weekly jobless claims have again climbed above 1m, a level unprecedented in pre-pandemic US history.
“It has done very little to deliver support for the economy,” said Michael Feroli, a senior economist at JPMorgan Chase.
Mr Trump acted on his own even though Congress has the “power of the purse” under the US constitution. To circumvent the legislature, he said he would use $44bn in disaster relief funds to provide an additional $300 per week to unemployed workers, and up to $400 per week if states agreed to add $100 per week more.