Executive orders are generally not very popular among Conservatives. The exception could be when they slash needless regulations that put burdens on individuals or the economy. Undoing a predecessor’s executive overreach is usually applauded. Unfortunately, due to Democrats’ unyielding stonewalling on a COVID relief package, President Trump had little choice.
In many ways, Congress is just broken. It has become so hyperpartisan that party-line votes are the norm. This pattern is especially evident in an election year where Democrats don’t want to provide the president a win he can campaign on. Likewise, President Trump and the Senate Majority will not allow Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to put long-sought goodies into unrelated legislation.
This goal was apparent in the recent COVID relief negotiations. Democrats wanted money for their supporters in the American Postal Workers Union, mail-in voting, ballot harvesting, and even a repeal of the SALT cap all tucked into a COVID relief package.
The Democrat caucus played the same game back in March. In negotiations, they got several items for their base and supporters due to the urgency of assisting families and businesses in the face of the pandemic. This time President Trump and Mitch McConnell were not going to play. Hospitals had not spent all of the money allocated previously, and blue-state governors and mayors were pressuring their members to ensure excessive levels of relief to cover decades of fiscal mismanagement.
When negotiations on the new package failed, and the House adjourned, President Trump issued a narrow executive order. It provided a payroll tax holiday for low- and middle-income workers, extended unemployment benefits with a $400 enhancement, and offer federal eviction and student loan relief through the end of the year.
Despite many commentators saying the president is on shaky legal ground with these orders, he is not in trouble with voters. A new Hill-HarrisX poll shows 68% of Americans support the executive orders. Many have noted that this includes 90% of Republicans, who are generally critical of questionable executive actions. Perhaps they have just had it with an ineffective Congress that appears to put partisan priorities ahead of the needs of struggling Americans.
Also, the orders had a 73% approval among independents and 45% among Democrats. Given that President Trump typically grabs less than 20% of Democrats in his daily approval ratings, it appears Pelosi and Schumer might have seriously overestimated their leverage on this issue. The president gave voters what they need, clearly and concisely. It seems most Americans were tired of the haggling.
Trump and the RNC need to capitalize on this approval and explain why the order was necessary through November. The simple truth is that Democrats placed their political priorities over the needs of their constituents to weather the lingering effects of the pandemic. Republicans wanted a narrow bill focused on families and businesses. There is a compelling story that helps expose the Democrats’ strategy of never letting a crisis go to waste in pursuit of power.