Trump says he’ll extend unemployment benefits through the end of the year

National News

President Trump is forecasting his future executive actions after a failed week of negotiations on Capitol Hill, holding a news conference Friday night at his New Jersey club in front of mostly mask-less club members. 

The president said his administration is “talking about” deferring the payroll tax, as well as continuing a moratorium on convictions and continuing expanded unemployment benefits, and deferring student loan payments through the end of the year. It’s unclear how the president might be able to do those things unilaterally, particularly extending expanded unemployment benefits.

“What we’re talking about is deferring the payroll tax for a period of months until the end of the year and I can extend it at a certain period,” Mr. Trump said, adding that it would be retroactive until July 1. 

Mr. Trump began his news conference by saying recent job growth has been the greatest in history, after some of the worst job losses on record. The president said, against all evidence, the virus is “disappearing, it’s going to disappear.”

Ahead of the news conference, dozens of club members, most of them mask-less and some of them holding wine glasses, filed into the ballroom at the club for the president’s address. Most members of the media couldn’t join the press conference, which was open only to the White House press pool. Members reportedly pay up to $350,000 just to join.

After talks between Democratic leaders House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows collapsed Friday, Mnuchin said he would recommend executive action to the president.

“Pelosi and Schumer only interested in Bailout Money for poorly run Democrat cities and states. Nothing to do with China Virus! Want one trillion dollars. No interest. We are going a different way,” the president tweeted Friday afternoon.

But the roughly $1 trillion Democrats are requesting for state and local government would be distributed across the country, to Republican-led states and localities, as well. Pelosi and Schumer said they told White House negotiators Thursday they would decrease the coronavirus aid proposal by $1 trillion if Republicans increased their proposal by $1 trillion. That was a no-go.

Mr. Trump has already said he was considering executive action to halt evictions and suspend payroll tax collection without a deal in Congress. A suspension of the payroll tax had already been dropped from negotiations on Capitol Hill, since it attracted little interest from Republicans. Mr. Trump has honed in on the move as his idea for boosting the economy.

While a payroll tax cut could mean more income in workers’ pockets, it would do little for the millions of unemployed Americans whose boosted unemployment benefits expired last week.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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