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Executive orders

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TRUMP, on how quickly laid-off U.S. workers would get up to $400 a week bonus payments under his executive order: “It will be rapidly distributed. ... They’re going to see it very soon.” — news conference Saturday.

THE FACTS: An imminent payment is unlikely, if one comes at all.

It is an open question how many people will receive the $400 weekly benefit, which is one-third less than the $600 previously provided by the federal government, and how long it might take to arrive. Trump’s executive order seems to leave it up to the states to decide whether to participate and also asks them to cover 25%, or $100, of the cost, a major hurdle when their budgets are already under severe strain.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday insisted the first checks could come “in a couple of weeks,” but acknowledged that the administration had yet to fully canvass the states to see if they would be able to afford their payment share. Kudlow also allowed that the executive action could wind up in court. Several lawmakers have questioned the legality of the orders, which bypass legislation that would need to be approved by Congress. On Saturday, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., called the theory behind the executive orders “unconstitutional slop.”

“We think we can do it,” Kudlow told ABC’s “This Week.”

But there was a new wrinkle Sunday night: Trump told reporters that states could apply for federal dollars covering all or part of the $400 payments. He said decisions would be made on a state-by-state basis.

The previous supplemental unemployment benefit of $600 per week expired at the end of July.


TRUMP, on whether he was expecting legal challenges to his orders: “I didn’t say that. No, no. I didn’t say that.” — news conference Saturday.

THE FACTS: He did say it.

At his news conference a day earlier in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump said: “Yeah, probably we get sued, but people feel that we can do it.”


TRUMP: “Over the next two weeks, I’ll be pursuing a major executive order requiring health insurance companies to cover all preexisting conditions for all customers. That’s a big thing. ... This has never been done before.” — news conference Friday.

THE FACTS: No executive order is needed to protect people with preexisting medical conditions because “Obamacare” already does that and it’s the law of the land. If Trump persuades the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional, it’s unclear what degree of protection an executive order would offer in place of the law.

The Obama health law states that “a group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage may not impose any preexisting condition exclusion with respect to such plan or coverage.”

Other sections of the law act to bar insurers from charging more to people because of past medical problems and from canceling coverage, except in cases of fraud. In the past, there were horror stories of insurers canceling coverage because a patient had a recurrence of cancer.

It’s dubious that any president could enact such protections through an executive order, or Obama would never have needed to go to Congress to get his health law passed. Likewise, President Bill Clinton could have simply used a presidential decree to enact his health plan, or major parts of it, after it failed to get through Congress.

Republicans were unable to muscle their replacement through Congress when they controlled the House and Senate in 2017 during Trump’s first year. Various GOP bills would have offered a degree of protection for people with preexisting conditions, but the proposed safeguards were seen as less than what the law already provided. The general approach in the Republican legislation would have required people to maintain continuous coverage to avoid being turned down because of a preexisting condition.

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