Trump’s triumphant-end run around the Democrats

By Andrea Widburg


Animals that are ambush hunters tend to be very still until they have their prey where they want them. Then, the ambush hunter is an explosion of efficient motion and the prey . . . well, the prey is toast. With Saturday’s executive orders and press conference, Trump proved himself to be a masterful ambush hunter, and the Democrats found themselves being hapless prey.

As with so many of their initiatives in 2020, the Democrats got greedy. Time and time again, they’ve used the excuse of the Wuhan virus and George Floyd’s death to advance hard-left policies unrelated either to the virus or to the exceedingly rare instances when American police wantonly kill black men.

When the virus first appeared, Trump, in good faith, allowed Fauci to lead him down the primrose path. This meant giving in to, and signing off on, the Democrats’ demands for stimulus bills. His agreement made the Democrats foolhardy. With the economy on life support, deaths from the virus dropping, and Americans desperately wanting to go back to work, the Democrats decided that they could again lard the latest stimulus bill with all manner of things. They assumed Trump would be either trapped or compliant.

What they hadn’t realized was that Trump, like a cat watching a rat draw near, was just waiting for the right moment to spring. Saturday was that day. In the kind of press conference that helps win elections, Trump explained that he was cutting through the Democrats’ ridiculous negotiating tactics and using his executive power to bring relief directly to Americans. Here’s the entire press conference, including his walking away at the end when CBS’s shrewish and disrespectful Paula Reid refuses to stop screaming questions at him:

The executive orders Trump signed do four things:

  1. Create a payroll tax holiday for Americans earning less than $100,000 annually. The executive order will be retroactive to August 1 and end on December 31, putting more money in employees’ pockets.
  2. Continue enhanced unemployment benefits at $400 per week, which is $200 less than the Democrats were demanding, which Trump alleges (probably correctly) makes going back to work more attractive.
  3. Extend the eviction moratorium on federal subsidized housing.
  4. Suspend student loan payments. (It’s to be hoped that Trump will not ultimately endorse Elizabeth Warren’s demand that the Wuhan virus should be used as an excuse to forgive all student loans. If someone was stupid enough to get a $300,000 gender studies degree, taxpayers should not be on the hook.)

As Trump acknowledged to reporters in the Q-and-A session, the Democrats will sue but it won’t be a good look for them. The moment Trump announced his executive orders, psychology says that Americans immediately felt ownership of these benefits. They’ll resent any effort to reverse them and will be unimpressed by arguments about executive overreach — especially because all that the Republicans have to say is “Dreamers” and “DACA” to show how hypocritical Democrats are being.

Trump also explained to Americans that he had to sign these executive orders because the Democrats’ demands were “ridiculous.”

Even people who aren’t huge Trump fans were impressed. Paul Mirengoff, who can’t warm up to Trump but knows he’s better than Biden, called Trump’s actions on Saturday a “political masterstroke.” While Mirengoff is concerned, as everyone should be, about executive overreach (something at which Obama excelled), he recognizes the political strength behind Trump’s having emerged suddenly and overwhelmed the Democrats:

[A]s a political matter, Trump’s move looks like a masterstroke. Since the days of FDR, the public has always seemed to approve of presidents who act to ameliorate suffering while Congress diddles. A flurry of activity, even of the futile or potentially counterproductive kind, makes a president look energetic and caring.

People who underestimate Trump routinely do so at their peril. Everything he does is calculated, including tweets that send his political opponents scurrying around like cats chasing a light while he’s getting things done to help the American people.