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Last Updated : Aug 09, 2020 11:46 AM IST | Source: Reuters

Tax cuts, reduced unemployment benefits - What's in Donald Trump's coronavirus executive orders

President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders aimed at pumping up America's pandemic-hit economy. The orders are likely to face some legal challenges.

Reuters

After failing to reach a deal with the US Congress for a fresh round of coronavirus pandemic relief, President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders aimed at pumping up America's pandemic-hit economy.

The orders are likely to face some legal challenges.

UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF

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Trump's order cuts enhanced federal unemployment benefits - a lifeline for the tens of millions of Americans thrown out of work during the pandemic - from $600 to $400 per week. Democrats had been lobbying to extend the original $600 a week enhanced benefits, which expired on July 31.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

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Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Trump proposes taking most of the money from the coffers of the Federal Emergency Management Agency - $44 billion, according to the order - with 25 percent of the money coming from states.

It's not clear how Trump will convince state governments, whose revenues have been hard hit by the crisis, to pony up their proposed share.

Trump called the reduced payments "generous."

A PAYROLL TAX CUT

Trump's first order waives the payroll tax that funds Social Security in a bid to inject extra money directly into salaried employees' pockets. Trump has been pushing the idea for a while but it has found little support in Congress from Democrats or his fellow Republicans.

The executive order says the cut comes into effect on September 1, but Trump said it "most likely" would be retroactive to Aug. 1 and translate into "bigger paychecks for working families."

EVICTIONS

Trump's order protecting homeowners and renters from evictions is unlikely to face a challenge from Democrats; indeed, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week encouraged the move. But it isn't clear how it will be executed.

The order directs authorities to provide "temporary financial assistance" to renters and homeowners "struggling to meet their monthly rental or mortgage obligations."

Even Trump seemed a little hazy on the order's ultimate effects, saying "we don't want people being evicted and the act that I am signing will solve that problem - largely, hopefully, completely."

STUDENT LOANS

Trump said that interest on student loan payments - frozen since March - would be suspended until the end of the year.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
First Published on Aug 9, 2020 11:35 am
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