By Jeremy Diamond and Nicky Robertson, CNN

BOSTON (CBS/CNN) President Donald Trump tried to assert executive power by signing four actions Saturday, one of which will provide as much as $400 in enhanced unemployment benefits — 25% of which states are being asked to cover — after Democrats and the White House were unable to reach an agreement on a coronavirus stimulus relief bill this week.

The other three actions he signed include a memorandum on a payroll tax holiday for Americans earning less than $100,000 a year, an executive order on “assistance to renters and homeowners” and a memorandum on deferring student loan payments.

“I’m taking action to provide an additional or extra $400 a week and expanded benefits, $400. That’s generous but we want to take care of our people,” Trump said about his memorandum on unemployment benefits at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren called Trump’s actions “dubious” in a tweet

She also said the executive order on evictions will not stop people from being evicted.

“Renters don’t need empty words about protection from eviction& rental assistance – they need guarantees. The President’s Executive Order does nothing meaningful to stop the evictions that are taking place right now,” she Tweeted.

Trump said $300 (or 75%) of the enhanced aid will come from the federal government, and $100 (or 25%) will therefore have to come from the states. Since governors would have to pay that $100 for people to get the full benefit, it is not clear how many of those unemployed would be able to receive the full $400 benefit.

A memorandum issued by the White House shortly after Trump’s news conference said that up to $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund would be made available for “lost wage assistance” to supplement state payments.

But when asked about the President’s executive action asking states to pay 25% of the $400 unemployment relief, an official from a northeastern state run by a Democratic governor laughed. “We don’t have that money,” the official said.

This official went on to say that they were not given any heads up on this executive action and that in the wake of the pandemic, their funds are completely tapped.

In fact, states have asked Congress to provide them with an additional $500 billion to help shore up their budgets, which have been crushed by the loss of tax revenue amid the pandemic. This has been one of the main points of contention between Democrats, who want to allocate additional aid, and Republicans, who don’t want to bail out what they say are badly managed states.

The millions of Americans who’ve filed for jobless benefits have drained several states’ unemployment benefits trust funds. Already, 10 states have borrowed nearly $20 billion from the Treasury Department to cover their share of payments, which typically last 26 weeks.

When asked by a reporter on Saturday why $400 instead of the previous $600, Trump responded, “This is the money they need, this is the money they want, this gives them a great incentive to go back to work.”

He went on to say, “there was a difficulty with the 600 number because it really was a disincentive.”

Trump administration officials had maintained some people receiving the original $600 extra benefit would not have an incentive to return to work because they were making more with unemployment aid than they did in salary.

Likewise, Republicans haven’t wanted to continue the $600 supplement, which expired July 31 and was part of the historic expansion to the nation’s unemployment benefits program lawmakers passed in late March, because they say it could delay people’s return to work. When combined with state benefits, about two-thirds of workers make more than they earned at their former jobs, a University of Chicago study found. GOP lawmakers initially floated giving the jobless a $200 supplement for at least two months and then a payment that would provide 70% of the laid-off worker’s former wage, when added to state benefits.

Democrats, on the other hand, say the economy is still weak and the jobless need the $600 to pay their bills.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Trump’s executive actions and continued the partisan finger-pointing, blaming Democrats for having “sabotaged” talks.

“Struggling Americans need action now. Since Democrats have sabotaged backroom talks with absurd demands that would not help working people, I support President Trump exploring his options to get unemployment benefits and other relief to the people who need them the most,” McConnell said in a statement Saturday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized Trump’s executive actions, describing them as “meager” and accusing the President of not grasping the severity of the current crisis.

“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,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called Trump’s actions “half-baked.”

“This is no art of the deal,” Biden said in a statement. “This is not presidential leadership. These orders are not real solutions. They are just another cynical ploy designed to deflect responsibility. Some measures do far more harm than good.”

Trump said he believes that the unemployment aid will be “rapidly distributed,” even though there are potential challenges over the legality of his executive action.

Democrats are likely to challenge the executive actions in court. Trump first laid out the executive actions at a hastily called news conference on Friday at his New Jersey golf club, where he said he wasn’t concerned about the legality of the actions he promised.

Trump also pushed one of his favorite tax moves that both parties had opposed, including in the latest stimulus bill. One of his memoranda calls for deferring the employee portion of payroll taxes — 6.2% for Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare — for workers making less than $100,000 a year through the rest of 2020.

Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley was unimpressed.

“Don’t let the occupant of the White House distract you,” tweeted Rep. Ayanna Pressley. “He just unilaterally cut Social Security and your unemployment benefits. In the middle of a pandemic.”

Rep. Joe Kennedy agreed, tweeting, “He’s breaking the law to cut your Social Security.”

If he’s reelected, Trump said, he plans to forgive the taxes and make permanent cuts to the payroll taxes.

“I’m going to make them all permanent,” he said.

Otherwise, presumably, workers would have to pay the taxes at the end of the year.

The controversial measure, however, wouldn’t do anything to help the unemployed and would likely weaken the already strained finances of Social Security and Medicare.

Trump also said Saturday his administration was looking at additional income tax and capital gains tax cuts for American taxpayers.

“We are going to be looking at capital gains for the purpose of creating jobs and income taxes is self-explanatory, and it will be income tax for middle income and lower income people, but middle income people who pay a lot of income tax, you have tax inequality. I’m saying that as a Republican, and you do have tax inequality,” Trump said.

He did not provide further details.

When asked about the President’s executive order asking states to pay 25% of the $400 unemployment relief, an official from a northeastern state run by a Democratic governor laughed. “We don’t have that money,” the official said.

This official went on to say that they were not given any heads up on this executive order and that in the wake of the pandemic, their funds are completely tapped.

When asked by a reporter why $400 instead of the previous $600, Trump responded, “This is the money they need, this is the money they want, this gives them a great incentive to go back to work.”

He went on to say, “there was a difficulty with the 600 number because it really was a disincentive.”

Democrats are likely to challenge the executive actions in court. Trump first laid out the executive orders at a hastily called news conference on Friday at his New Jersey golf club, where he said he wasn’t concerned about the legality of the actions he promised.

Trump also said Saturday his administration was looking at additional income tax and capital gains tax cuts for American taxpayers, besides the payroll tax holiday being instituted by executive order.

“We are going to be looking at capital gains for the purpose of creating jobs and income taxes is self-explanatory, and it will be income tax for middle income and lower-income people but middle-income people who pay a lot of income tax, you have tax inequality. I’m saying that as a Republican, and you do have tax inequality,” Trump said.

He did not provide further details.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN’s Nicky Robertson, Jeremy Diamond, Tami Luhby and Kristen Holmes contributed to this report.)

Comments (7)
  1. Frank says:

    Ayanna Pressley should cut her hair off, that black, Marxist, despicable, uncontested (in the election) liar. “We don’t need any queers, who don’t have a queer voice.” Well. we don’t need any Blacks who vote for or support Ayanna Pressley.

    1. coch01 says:

      On Noes! Poor Frank, his world has been turned asunder! There is a uppity person of color…A WOMAN EVEN! And she is in a leadership position!
      She doesn’t HAVE hair to cut off she has alopecia; you don’t know what a Marxist is and need to look it up; despicable is your opinion as you can despise whomever you want; yes, she ran unopposed in the general but defeated long-time Rep Capuano in the primary which says a lot.

  2. Timothy Belanger says:

    Such politically bias statements that aren’t true. WBZ should call them out on it.

  3. kas1900 says:

    The democrats, who if if Trump says the earth is round would disagree with him just to disagree, can only thank themselves for this. They refused to work with him on the Hill on this package well knowing that Trump would get his way one way or the other. So, if this is a bad thing, hey you should have worked with him not just against him cause it is Trump and you don’t like Trump. So I have a feeling it is either a) not as bad as they make it out to be or b) exactly what they would have done and will have not problem reminding everyone of later

    As for this gutting SS. SS has been gutted for decades. Trumps is hardly the first to dip in there and if anything less, he won’t be the last. It has not been solvent for decades. It is one of those funds, kinda like the excise tax in MA. We pay into them but really, shouldn’t expect to get much if any from them.

  4. JimStark says:

    and I thought Mike Capuano was a dope. The stupid is strong in this one

  5. John says:

    Why are we tolerating these politicians lack of morality and care about funding this countries needy people? They seriously seem to think it’s acceptable to take 2 breaks in the middle of the worst pandemic in this country. People are dying, being evicted and all we hear is how these magnanimous politicians cannot agree on funds to help those people who need these funds! Twice now a plan to aid it’s people has been delayed because our government takes a vacation. Seriously we need to send a very clear message this is NOT acceptable and our government needs to pull their heads out of their back sides!

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