Trump to seek payroll tax cut, other economic stimulus amid coronavirus fallout

President Donald Trump said Monday that he is considering a payroll tax cut and other measures to help American workers weather the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The president said at a press conference that he was looking into the tax cut and stimulus measures to assist affected industries, The Hill reported, as workers, investors and airlines experience a coronavirus crunch that many fear could turn into a recession. Trump reportedly walked out of a meeting with Republican lawmakers on Tuesday with little movement on an economic response.

“We have a very strong economy,” Trump told reporters Monday. “But this has blindsided the world.”

Trump weighs payroll tax cut

There are now at least 29 deaths and over 800 cases of the deadly virus in the U.S., with cases concentrated in New York, Washington and California. With the epidemic seeming to get worse every day, a climate of fear is building in the country as schools and colleges close, workplaces send employees home, and tourists cancel their travel plans.

The economic side effects of the coronavirus are a special cause of concern for Trump, who is campaigning for his re-election in large part on a relatively robust economy. The stock market suffered a brutal sell-off on Monday amid a dizzying day of coronavirus news, as speculation emerged as to whether Trump was exposed to COVID-19 by Republican lawmakers who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and an infected cruise ship came to shore in Oakland, California.

At a press update Monday, Trump laid out a series of policy proposals for managing the economic side effects of the disease, including a payroll tax cut for workers. He also suggested that his administration may be interested in bailouts for suffering airlines, hotels and cruise lines as well as loans for small businesses.

Leaves talks empty-handed?

Trump promised to lay out an economic response at a Tuesday press conference, and stocks rebounded sharply amid the stimulus news, Forbes reported. However, Trump’s plans have been marred by confusion in the White House and disagreements with Republican lawmakers.

The president’s stimulus plans did not seem to get any clearer Tuesday when Trump walked out of a lunch with Republican senators without any explicit agreement on a stimulus package, Axios reported. Trump’s payroll tax cut idea has received a chilly reception from Senate Republicans and Democrats alike.

“Obama did a payroll tax, I’m not sure how well that worked. I think this president is kind of planning something more dramatic than that,” said Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI.).

Stimulus prospects unclear

The stimulus talk comes after Trump passed an $8.3 billion package to fight the coronavirus. The race to piece together a stimulus plan has become yet another front in Trump’s coronavirus war with the Democrats, who are focusing on paid sick leave, something in which Trump is also interested, to the exclusion of tax cuts.

“We’re always willing to discuss something that is evidence- and science-based, that addresses the needs of families first as we go forward, because that is what needs to be done,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters Monday.

Democrats have repeatedly hammered Trump’s coronavirus response as misleading and inadequate, while Trump has accused Democrats and the media of stoking panic deliberately to hurt his re-election.

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