Economy

Trump’s Fake Unemployment Program Ran Out of Funds a Week Ago

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Last week, on September 2nd, I wrote that Trump's fake unemployment program could run out of funding within weeks and almost immediately after most state programs for it come online, but the program reportedly ran out of funding just three days later.

Bloomberg reports that Trump's program -- which used disaster relief funding appropriated for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) -- ran out of funding on September 5th.

Funding for the Lost Wages Assistance program, which authorized an extra $300 a week from the federal government to most jobless benefit recipients, will not extend beyond the benefit week ending Sept. 5, according to statements by government officials from Montana, Texas and New Mexico. The states said they were informed Wednesday. [...]

Logistical hurdles, though, including an approval process, led to a delay in Americans actually receiving the money. Some states have not yet started distributing the funds.

Trump created this program through an executive order he signed on August 8th, meaning the program ran out of funding in less than one month.

Legally, only $44 billion in disaster relief funding previously appropriated by Congress was available for the program, but in reality the total available was significantly less than that. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is legally required to spend the funding on its original purpose -- such as recovering from the forest fires currently ravaging the west coast as I write this -- once available funding falls below a certain threshold.

Even if we say Trump's program distributed the full $44 billion (which it probably didn't), it's not nothing but it may as well be.

Anyone who receives a check in the mail worth $1,800 ($300 x 6 weeks) will undoubtedly be grateful to benefit from that, as I would be, but in the grand scheme this temporary program that has already effectively expired is not enough to sustain an economic recovery.

Senate Republicans are holding a vote on their "skinny" stimulus proposal at some point today and it also wouldn't be enough to sustain a recovery.

I don't know if this qualifies as a conspiracy theory or not, but I don't think Republicans actually want to see a recovery for average Americans, at least not in the short term.

It would be perfectly in character for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans to resist passing adequate stimulus right now because doing so would make things easier for the incoming Biden administration. McConnell infamously pledged to make President Obama a "one term president" before the latter even took office and their efforts led to a decade of obstruction against any sustained investment in our own economy.

They can prove me wrong by increasing rather than repeatedly decreasing their proposals.

  • muselet

    The Lost Wages Assistance Program was never meant to be anything other than a distraction, something the administration could point to as proof of Donald Trump’s magnanimity: “Look! He threw money at jobless peasants! Surely he is the wisest and most wonderful leader in history!” (Before anyone else says it: “And don’t call me Shirley.”)

    Never mind the money came from FEMA’s budget, and they have other needs right now (as I type this, the sky is a mucky orangey-brown color where I live—no threatening fires, just a lot of smoke and crap in the air). That doesn’t matter. Buffing up Trump’s image does.

    As for the economy, that’s not really important, either. As long as the stock market doesn’t go off the rails before November 3, the Rs will be happy enough.

    –alopecia

  • Georgie

    It’s all a political game to them.