President Donald Trump on Monday told Americans to blame Democrats and old technology for any delays in the upcoming unemployment funding from coronavirus relief legislation.
The president said in a tweet that he had warned Democrats that if the states issued the checks, rather than the federal government, there would be delays.
"Blame the Democrats for any 'lateness' in your Enhanced Unemployment Insurance. I wanted the money to be paid directly, they insisted it be paid by states for distribution. I told them this would happen, especially with many states which have old computers," he wrote.
Congress passed over $2 trillion in emergency relief last month, with $260 billion set aside for unemployment benefits for the 22 million people out of work as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.This money gives people relying on unemployment benefits an additional $600 a week. This boost gives some people not only what they made before losing their job, but some people make even more than they would have.
The stimulus measure also allows freelance workers, gig workers, and those who are self-employed to take advantage of the unemployment benefits.
But as The Washington Post reports, some payments, including the stimulus checks offered up to most Americans, have been delayed by understaffed and underfunded agencies.
In addition, the technology used is based on an outdated system that was developed in 1962, and, as the Post notes, the Trump administration hasn't prioritized filling many positions that could ease the attempts to roll out the massive system.
The Treasury Department, which oversees the stimulus checks, has vacancies in over six key senior positions, though Steven Mnuchin disputes that he has left vacancies, blaming Congress.
The unemployment insurance program has been overwhelmed by the number of people suddenly out of work in the wake of the pandemic. While the program is run on a federal level, it is administered by the states. States are also relying on out-of-date software and agencies have been plagued by long wait times, inadequate staff, and crashing websites due to the number of people reaching out for aid.
Despite the problems, more Americans say that they think states have better responded to the COVID-19 pandemic than the federal government.
It's likely that Trump is aware that all of this could look bad for him politically as he has tied himself to the stimulus relief efforts. In recent days, he has blamed the failures in rolling out relief on the former administration.
"Biden/Obama were a disaster in handling the H1N1 Swine Flu. Polling at the time showed disastrous approval numbers. 17,000 people died unnecessarily and through incompetence!" Trump wrote. "Also, don't forget their 5 Billion Dollar Obamacare website that should have cost close to nothing!"