New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday blasted a spate of actions from President Donald Trump over the weekend designed to provide relief to unemployed Americans, declaring “millions of unemployed workers and their families deserve better.“
Murphy, speaking at a press briefing in Trenton, painted Trump’s actions — signed at his private golf club in Bedminster on Sunday — as short-sighted, counterproductive and insufficient.
Background: Trump’s actions give unemployed Americans $400 in weekly assistance and deferrals of payroll taxes and federal student loans. States would administer and pay 25 percent of the weekly unemployment insurance benefits, which are $200 less than the $600 enhanced weekly unemployment benefits that expired in July.
Murphy estimated those benefits would cost the state “hundreds of millions of dollars,” and Trump’s actions don’t take into account the expense of setting up a program to administer those benefits.
Trump signed the executive orders after negotiations between the White House and Democrats on a new stimulus bill collapsed.
Backlash: “States are going broke and millions of Americans are unemployed, yet the solution calls for the states to create a new program we can’t afford to begin with and don’t know how to administer,” Murphy said. “I cannot sit here right now and say New Jersey could afford to participate in this program. The president’s actions do not provide one dime for state and local governments who are the frontline responders to this pandemic.”
Murphy said the tax holiday diverts billions of dollars from Social Security and Medicare, important lifelines for many.
“A payroll tax holiday will not save workers anything in the long run, as they will still be on the hook for the taxes owed come next April 15,” Murphy said. “A payroll tax holiday means nothing to the unemployed when there is no paycheck coming in.”
Next up: Murphy urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass a Covid-19 relief plan proposed by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
“The time for political games ended months ago,” Murphy said. “We are proving as a state what is possible when we react to this pandemic not according to politics but according to science and the direct needs of people we serve. Let’s see some of that selflessness in Washington.”