‘Just laughable’: Cuomo mocks Trump’s executive orders, challenges their legality

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Photo by Mark Hallum)

President Donald Trump’s economic executive orders on Saturday were a “laughable” effort that did not meet the challenges of the current fiscal crisis gripping the country, Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters during a Sunday morning conference call.

Cuomo said that you cannot beat good old fashioned legislation, worked out with the legislative branch, when it comes to passing an effective stimulus. The governor charged that Trump’s latest maneuvers are just another chapter in the administration’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis.

Trump’s executive orders include freezing collection of the payroll tax and allowing for a $400 boost in unemployment payments, but some have charged that the president lacks the legal authority to do so — as Congress controls the budget. Cuomo said these executive orders, in particular, stand on “shaky” legal ground — and leaves states footing 25% of the unemployment benefits bill, something which they cannot afford at this time.

“You can’t do it with an executive order. It’s on shaky ground legally, but even to the extent that he’s executed orders, they’re not going to meet the demand. The concept of saying to the states, you pay 25% of the unemployment insurance is just laughable. The whole issue here is getting states and local governments funding,” Cuomo said. “They need legislation, it’s the only to do it. If they don’t get it passed – if the president is not willing to get it passed – then this is just an additional failure in a series of failures to handle this COVID crisis.”

Trump’s orders came after negotiations between the White House, Senate Republicans and House Democrats on a new round of financial stimulus broke down. A $600 enhancement of unemployment benefits passed during the CARES Act expired on July 31; Trump’s order purportedly authorized a $400 enhancement of unemployment benefits.

When asked about concerns he had toward the legality of cutting around congress in this attempt, Trump’s response was “you always get sued.”

While Democrats have vowed to fight the executive order, they called for Republicans to return to the negotiating table after the GOP-proposed HEALS Act offered little funding state and local governments to maintain operations, including schooling.

“Today’s meager announcements by the President show President Trump still does not comprehend the seriousness or the urgency of the health and economic crises facing working families,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said in a joint statement on Saturday. “We’re disappointed that instead of putting in the work to solve Americans’ problems, the President instead chose to stay on his luxury golf course to announce unworkable, weak and narrow policy announcements to slash the unemployment benefits that millions desperately need and endanger seniors’ Social Security and Medicare.”

Cuomo later added that the 25% unemployment insurance cost would amount to $4 billion for New York, putting the state in an untenable conundrum.