This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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What it Means to Our Republic
On August 8th, President Donald Trump used his authority as President of the United States to sign four executive orders allowing for a moratorium on student loan payments, a moratorium on evictions, an extension of the enhanced unemployment benefits, and a moratorium on the payroll tax, all until the end of the year. The Democrats have been oddly quiet on this change, though who can blame them since they rally behind higher taxes, evictions, defaulting student loans and people losing their benefits which is hardly a strong choice for the Biden ticket.
Of course the Democratic stalwarts of the idiocracy, like Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wassermann-Shultz, decried the executive order as hollow, noting that the executive order only kept people in their houses but didn’t pay for their rent, a goal of the socialist agenda. Further, many in the media are gnashing their teeth crying “equality of the branches of government” because this executive order will limit the news cycle until Trump’s next tweet or Biden’s next episode sniffing children.
Three Co-Equal Branches Myth
Before addressing the legality of Trump’s unilateral action, we need to address one of the media’s favorite myths, that each branch of the government is co-equal. This was neither the intent of the Founding Fathers nor is it something that we should strive for. The branches of government were ordered in the Constitution for a reason, and as long as we ignore this order, our republic will be in dire straights.
The Founding Fathers believed in the power of the people and the sovereignty of the states. Unfortunately, through a series of late night deals, the Wilson Administration oversaw the end of state sovereignty as Wilson allowed an end to the practice of senators representing their states. While the original idea was for the senate to be a unifying semi-partisan group, appointed by the governor and ratified by the legislature of the individual states, it has become a hyper partisan retirement home for octogenarians. 10 Senators currently serving were born before 1940!
The role of Congress was to give the states and the people a voice in their government. This was designed to be the most powerful branch of government, but that power was not absolute. With the partisan nature of the current failed Congress, we have seen the need to eliminate the direct election of senators and the need to put in place a more robust impeachment process for members of the House and Senate.
The Executive Branch of the government is designed to be the penultimate branch of government. In recent years, we have seen the media attempt to remove parts of the executive branch from the purview of the President and create a fourth bureaucratic branch of the government. The role of the President is to enforce the laws of the country and spend the monies apportioned by Congress with their guidance, which are not their absolute orders. In the present crisis, it is important to note that the President has the power to declare marshal law, something that Mr. Trump has yet to do because it is anathema to our constitutional republic. His half measure of using executive orders is a weaker form of this, but a form that we should be happy is not full marshal law.
The courts were designed to be the weakest branch of government in the United States. Judicial review and other judicial mandates have no constitutional authority; however, the people have no recourse because there is nothing “higher” than the Supreme Court in today’s mythology. Originally, if the President overstepped his boundaries, Congress would pass an amendment or law reigning the President in. Now, this has become a hobby of the court, which is being exploited by groups such as the ACLU and the New York State Attorney General’s office.
The court has also fashioned itself as a moral, academic, and scientific authority as well. Their failures in this area have stretched from the racist declaration that black Americans were not human but were property, to the demonic positions of Roe v. Wade, and on to the absurd idea that people do not have a right to their own genetic code but that corporations do. Moreover, the worst opinion for elections, Citizens United, provides that outside entities can ‘buy’ elections, which allows for foreign interference in our elections. To say nothing about preventing laws where all campaign donations must come from within the district!
Overview of Executive Order
The question of whether the President has the power to do what he did is an interesting question. The answer, of course, is yes. The reasons differ for each of the orders.
Moratorium on Evictions
This executive order is perhaps the one that is on the strongest legal grounds. This order only applies to federal housing or federally subsidized housing. Under this order, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Benjamin S. Carson will be entrusted to change the rules at HUD to prohibit the expulsion of renters during the pandemic and prohibit federal lenders from calling in mortgages during the same time frame. This could have been done anytime and is a simple solution.
Suspensions of Student Loan Payments and Interest
Another of the orders on incredibly strong footing. This order simply suspends the payments and interest on student loans that are held by the government. It is basically a payment holiday that the President can extend at any time. It does not forgive loans and still operates within the inane rules that Congress has created for higher education funding. Any lawsuit in this area should be dismissed on its face.
Extension of the Unemployment Benefit
This executive order could face a legitimate legal challenge, but not the one you might think. All President Trump did in this area was extend authorized payments by Congress, using funds authorized by congress. No foul there. The reason so many people are worked up about this is because many of the states thought that they would get to keep the allotment they did not spend. Some states, such as Michigan, have people who filed for April and have not yet received a payment under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. All Mr. Trump did was assign already allocated money to where it should have gone in the first place.
The issue I see happening with this is not that it will be overturned, but that a writ of mandamus will be issued to increase the benefits. The original CARES Act specified that payments were to be $600. The President does not have the authority to change this outright, merely extend it. Thus a court could insist that states pay the full $600, not the $400 the President ordered.
Suspension of Payroll Tax
This is the area that I see the greatest potential for lawsuits, which is why I am glad that he signed four bills instead of one. From a legal standpoint, I believe that he is within his rights to suspend the collection of a specific tax during a time of emergency. Any case against this order should be heard immediately in the US Supreme Court (as the constitutional court of original jurisdiction) and ruled in the president’s favor.
The challenge can come from two groups: seniors and members of Congress. The seniors are outraged because they are being mislead into believing they are losing their social security benefits because of it. First, the US is obligated to pay the amount specified by Congress, regardless if it is in the trust. So they will get their money that amounts to about 3 times what they paid in.
The reason that members of Congress are complaining, especially long term congresspeople, is because they do not want the elderly to see that the Social Security fund has been robbed so many times that it puts every other government scandal in history to shame. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is problematic because people take out more than they put in and Congress uses it as a slush fund. Where do you think some of those settlements came from? The members involved do not want seniors to find out, lest we see a great old tradition, tar and feathering, make a comeback.
Realistically, all four executive orders should stand the test of the courts. We may see the unemployment get a bump, but other than that, the President has acted within his constitutional authority, just like every other president before him. When Congress fails to act during an emergency, the president has to protect the interests of the people. This is what President Trump has done.
Congress was given two months to act when they saw that the pandemic was not abating. They chose to campaign rather than do their jobs. Thus, the takeaway for this is that there should be no campaigns more than six weeks before a primary or general election. We just had four years of campaigns for/against President Trump. Maybe it is time that our government do its job and quit turning Americans into bartering chips.