President Donald Trump on Wednesday night urged several measures to shore up the U.S. economy against the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic, including payroll tax relief and government aid to small businesses.
Speaking to the nation in a primetime televised Oval Office address, Trump emphasized the financial and economic health of the country, including unemployment at historic low levels and a healthy banking system.
“This vast economic prosperity gives us flexibility, reserves, and resources to handle any threat that comes our way,” Trump said. “This is not a financial crisis. This is just a temporary moment in time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world.”
President Trump said that he would instruct the Small Business Administration to provide capital and liquidity to firms hurt by the coronavirus. These would include low-interest loans aimed at overcoming temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus. The president said he would ask Congress for an additional $50 billion to support the program.
Trump said he would use emergency authority to instruct tax authorities to defer tax payments required from individuals and businesses impacted by the pandemic. The president said this would provide $200 billion of additional liquidity to the economy.
Trump also renewed his call for immediate payroll tax relief. Trump this week proposed to lawmakers that the entire 12.4 percent Social Security payroll tax be suspended for the remainder of the year.
“Hopefully, they will consider this very strongly,” Trump said.
Democrats have said they are opposed to a payroll tax cut. Top Republican lawmakers have said that a payroll tax cut does not have broad enough support on Capitol Hill to win approval.
President Trump also said his administration would put forward a plan to make sure that individuals who are sick with coronavirus or forced to take off from work to take care of someone who is sick will continue to be paid. This is regarded as an important step in getting hourly wage workers without employer-provided sick leave to stay home if they contract the virus.