Exclusive — Mike Pence: Phase Four Coronavirus Bill Should Have ‘Legal Shield’ from Trial Lawyers, Payroll Tax Cut, Economic Boosters

AP Photo/Michael Conroy
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

NORCROSS, Georgia — Vice President Mike Pence told Breitbart News he believes any fourth phase coronavirus relief package from Congress must focus on directly supporting American families and workers.

Pence, who sat for an exclusive with Breitbart News at Waffle House corporate headquarters after a roundtable with business leaders and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp about reopening America as the pandemic recedes, met this week with House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss a pathway forward. In the Friday interview that aired on Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel on Saturday, Pence said such discussions are “very preliminary” at this stage.

“I would characterize the discussions as very preliminary because we’re still moving a lot of the resources that Congress has already approved out and literally hundreds of millions of dollars—billions of dollars—of support directly to families, directly to small businesses, resources to states not only to support state services, but first responders, as well as unemployment benefits and a whole range of resources we’ve made available to hospitals and healthcare facilities,” Pence said.

“But I think as we go forward, the focus is going to be on the American people, on American families. President Trump said it plainly: we’re going to do whatever it takes to get the American people through this. That’s the reason why the core of the CARES Act was direct payments to Americans, to every American family. The average family of four would receive $3,400 in a direct payment from the federal government, supporting people who were at risk of losing their job, or had lost their job, through Paycheck Protection and, of course, the unemployment benefits. But we really do believe that whatever else might be necessary to get the American people and families and small businesses through his time, we’ve got to have provisions that will promote economic growth and accelerate this recovery in the second half of this year and in 2021.”

The House Democrats, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, passed a $3 trillion spending bill last week meant to be an opening bid from Democrats. But that bill is dead-on-arrival in the Senate because it did not address coronavirus relief and, instead, was packed to the brim with Democrat political wish list priorities. Republicans have just begun discussions about a phase four deal, one that would actually address the pandemic, unlike the Democrats’ political bill. It is unclear if there will actually be a phase four deal, but if there is one, Pence said the White House and Republicans have certain priorities they think would truly help the country turn a corner past coronavirus.

Pence specifically said a payroll tax cut is a must in whatever deal may be in the works, as it would increase workers’ take-home pay by more than seven percent immediately. He also said the Trump administration is looking at other possible tax cuts and deductions, such as a capital gains tax cut and certain deductions to incentivize economic activity in certain arenas — restaurants and entertainment, for example.

“The president believes that a payroll tax cut, which would increase the take-home pay of working Americans by 7.6 percent immediately and puts money in the pocket of working Americans, would have an enormously beneficial effect on generating economic growth,” Pence said. “It would help Americans have more money in their pocket, it would create more demand in the market, and combining that with continuing the payroll tax relief for businesses, we believe, is a prescription for going forward. We’re also looking at a capital gains tax reduction, we’re looking at restoring a business deduction for dining out or restaurants and entertainment; we think that would also stimulate people being back out. It’s amazing to think that one out of four of the jobs lost during the coronavirus lockdowns in states across the country were in the restaurant industry. The president, having spent a lot of time in the hotel industry and resorts, really believes that one of the ways we could encourage people to go back—encourage working people to go back into restaurants and getting people to take advantage of entertainment options—is restoring the deductions.”
McConnell, the Senate leader, has made clear that any future package must have liability protection for businesses as they reopen to prevent frivolous lawsuits from trial lawyers trying to make a buck off the pandemic. As Breitbart News reported this week, trial lawyers are chomping at the bit to unleash a wave of lawsuits on the country—and Pence told Breitbart News that such “liability protection” from those trial lawyers is also important for the reopening of the country. Pence said the government will aim to provide a “legal shield” to prevent frivolous lawsuits that could stall reopening measures.

“So we’re looking at all those things—and liability protection. What we want to do is make it possible if businesses or professional sports reopen and begin to operate consistent with CDC guidelines that they can do that with confidence and that they will have liability protection,” Pence said. “What we don’t want, in the midst of a recovering economy, we don’t want it to be saddled down with thousands of frivolous lawsuits filed all over the country. We want to give people a safe harbor where they do like businesses here in Georgia are doing and that is implement the CDC guidance for safe and healthy practices in operating their restaurants or operating their sporting events, that they can do so with confidence, and they can have that legal shield and umbrella while we bring this country all the way back.”



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