Democrats Already Resisting Trump’s Payroll Tax Cut Proposal Linked to Coronavirus Outbreak

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, left, the House Speaker-designate, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speak to the media after meeting with President Donald Trump, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, on border security at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Democrats are already balking at President Donald Trump’s proposed payroll tax cut intended to help Americans weather the storm from the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on their finances and the overall U.S. economy.

On Monday, in the wake of the worst day on Wall Street in more than a decade, Trump said he would ask the U.S. Congress to approve emergency economic legislation.

Trump’s proposal would include both a payroll tax cut and relief for hourly workers to help combat the economic decline from the coronavirus.

“But Democrats argued that cutting the federal payroll tax would not help people who have lost their jobs in this sudden downturn, or who are part of the gig economy and do not get paid by the hour,” the Hill reported on Monday.

Former President Barack Obama signed payroll tax cut bills into law during his administration.

On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed disdain for a similar plan proposed by Trump before the current administration unveils the details behind the proposal on Tuesday.

Pelosi and Schumer have proposed an economic relief package to hinder a coronavirus-related recession during this election year that would rival Trump’s plan.

However, the Democrat plan is unlikely to include a payroll tax cut, described by Pelosi as “tax cuts for major corporations.”

The Hill noted:

Instead, it is expected to include paid sick leave for workers who need to self-quarantine due to the coronavirus; enhanced unemployment insurance for those who lose their jobs from the economic impact related to the epidemic; and free coronavirus testing to help control its spread.

Democrats have lambasted the president’s proposal, claiming it focuses too much on the economy and less on individuals afflicted by the virus. The Trump administration has pushed back against those claims.

On Tuesday, President Trump himself took to Twitter to excoriate Pelosi for refusing to work with his administration on coming up with an economic relief package to help combat the financial fallout from coronavirus.

“Nancy Pelosi just said, ‘I don’t know if we can be ready this week.’ In other words, it’s off to vacation for the Do Nothing Democrats,” the president wrote on the social media platform, referring to his plan. “That’s been the story with them for 1 1/2 years!”

“I don’t know that we can be ready this week, but we can introduce this week, we can introduce it, and we may be ready this week,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol on Monday, indicating that the Democrat’s play could be ready for a vote this week.

Lawmakers are leaving for a weeklong recess at the end of this week.

Pelosi said the Democratic leadership could shorten the congressional recess “if there’s a necessity — if we think we’re going to get some action in the Senate to do it.”

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) told the Hill that he thinks Trump’s proposed tax cuts were dead on arrival on Capitol Hill.

“I see folks who are being devastated, who are either losing their jobs temporarily or their hours are being cut, and there is nothing being done to help them get back on their feet,” Meeks told the news outlet.

“We have to figure out where we can get more revenue that can make a difference for them. Payroll taxes – I don’t know if that’s the best way to go,” he also said, adding that rolling back the president’s 2017 tax cuts would raise more revenue needed to help workers affected by the virus.

Rep. Don Beyer from Virginia, the top Democrat on the bipartisan Joint Economic Committee, told the Hill he is “very suspicious that more tax cuts are going to do anything concrete.”

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) also reportedly described the payroll tax cut as a non-starter. The House appropriations panel has jurisdiction over spending packages.

She argued that the proposed payroll tax cuts fail to help those who have lost their jobs amid the outbreak.

“Right now, if somebody loses their job as a dishwasher, I’m not sure the payroll tax cut will really help them,” Lowey said.

The most recent jobless claims report by the federal government, however, suggested that businesses have not started laying off workers in anticipation of an economic slowdown linked to the spread of the virus on U.S. soil.

The latest economic stimulus proposals, if passed, would mark the second round of coronavirus relief. Last week, the U.S. government approved a plan to provide $8.3 billion to thwart the spread of the virus.

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