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Trump Proposes Tax Cuts as Coronavirus Hits the Economy

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  • President Donald Trump announced Monday that his administration will be meeting with House and Senate Republicans to discuss passing payroll tax cuts, as well as relief for hourly wage earners. 
  • The announcement came the same day the U.S. Stock Market finished its worst day since the 2008 financial crisis, with the Dow Jones closing 2,000 points and 7.8% lower.
  • On Fox Business, Host Trish Regan then blasted Democrats for politicizing the coronavirus in relation to Trump, though many online later blasted her for politicizing the issue. 

Trump Payroll Tax Cut

President Donald Trump announced that his administration would be meeting with top Republicans on Tuesday to discuss passing legislation that would provide payroll tax cuts as well as relief for hourly wage earners. 

Trump also announced the White House will be working with industries like airlines, cruise ships, and hotels, all of which have been hit by the coronavirus as people cancel travel plans.

“We are going to take care of and have been taking care of the American public and the American economy,” Trump said from the White House Press Room Monday night.

Trump’s proposed tax cuts would be in addition to the recent passage of an $8.3 billion aid package focused on vaccine research and other medical efforts.

While Trump has announced his plan to have Republican lawmakers introduce legislation into Congress, much of the specifics of the plan are still unknown. 

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Trump called his meeting with top Republicans “great,” saying there was “tremendous unity;” however, no decision was reached.

In that meeting, Trump reportedly proposed a temporary payroll tax cut that could cost the government $40 billion a month, but some Republicans reportedly proposed different plans, while others worried that payroll tax cuts might not do enough to stimulate the economy.

What Are Payroll Tax Cuts?

Payroll tax cuts are what they sound like: cuts aimed at reducing the amount of money taken out of a paycheck, where that paycheck is weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc. Generally, they include both Social Security and Medicare.

Usually, when Congress implements a payroll tax cut, it tends to scale back Social Security. In fact, in 2011, Social Security taxes fell from their standard 6.2% to 4.2%, meaning people got to pocket that extra 2%. Medicare taxes, however, were not changed. 

The general idea of payroll tax cuts is the hope that people will spend that extra money; however, some have expressed concerns that such cuts might not translate into spending as people avoid shopping during the outbreak. 

Of course, more money for citizens also means less money for the federal government. In fact, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, if Congress and the White House end up reducing the payroll tax by only 1%, that would cut federal revenue by between $55 and $75 billion.

Worst Stock Market Day Since 2008

Part of Trump’s announcement and the reason why his administration would want spending in the first place is that the stock market has been quickly falling since mid-February.

On Tuesday, the stock market saw its worst day of trading since the 2008 financial crisis, with the Dow Jones falling more than 2,000 and closing 7.8% lower. 

In fact, at one point, the stock market even temporarily stopped trading. Such a move has not happened since 1997.

Notably, that only lasted 15 minutes, and it was triggered by Saudi Arabia slashing at oil prices as part of a trade war with Russia. Still, much of that trade war stems from the coronavirus (particularly from Asia’s drop in oil consumption), and there is fear that the coronavirus could end up plunging the global economy into recession.

On Tuesday, the Dow jumped back up 945, though it drifted downward later in the day before stocks closed.

It is, however, hard to judge the stock market by only looking at its daily position. In mid-February, the Dow was at around 29,000 points. Monday, it ended just shy of 24,000 points.

Reaction from Lawmakers

Regarding a payroll tax cut, Monday, Senator Chuck Grassley said (R-IA) “everything is on the table.”

Another senator, John Cornyn (R-TX), called right now too early to employ tax. “I usually love tax cuts,” he said, “but I think it’s a little bit premature…”

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats are working on their own plan, which could reportedly be published in full later this week. 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced some of the details of that plan on Monday. It would include free coronavirus testing, paid leave for those affected by the epidemic, expanded food subsidies, and expanding the federal unemployment insurance system.

On the note of paid leave, there seems to be some common ground between Democrats and the Trump Administration. Vice President Mike Pence has indicated that the Trump Administration will work with Congress to make sure people don’t lose their paychecks.

“Coronavirus Impeachment Scam”

Following Trump’s announcement that he was hoping to introduce tax break policy into Congress, Fox Business host Trish Regan blasted Democrats, saying they have politicized the coronavirus. 

Next to her on the chyron read the words “Coronavirus Impeachment Scam.

“The chorus of hate being leveled at the president is nearing a crescendo as Democrats blame him and only him for a virus that originated halfway around the world,” Regan said. “This is yet another attempt to impeach the president, and sadly, it seems they care very little for any of the destruction they are leaving in their wake.” 

“Losses in the stock market, all this, unfortunately, just part of the political casualties for them,” she added. “You know, this is the time to be united, not to be pointing fingers, not to be encouraging hate, and yet, what do we see? We see the absolute opposite from the left tonight!” 

Trump later retweeted a clip of Regan’s video, but Regan also faced substantial criticism online, either by people saying she herself was politicizing the coronavirus. Many then pointed out the fact that her comments came as people were dying in the United States. 

Oddly enough, the same night on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson painted a much different story for his viewers, even seemingly making an indirect jab at President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus in the U.S. 

“Meanwhile, if we’re being honest, the other side has not been especially helpful either,” Carlson said of Republicans. “People you trust, people you probably voted for, have spent weeks minimizing what is clearly a very serious problem. ‘It’s just partisan politics,’ they say, ‘Calm down.’ ‘In the end, this is just like the flu, and people die from that every year.’ ‘Coronavirus will pass. And when it does, we will feel foolish for worrying about it.’ That’s their position.” 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CNBC) (Newsweek)

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Amanda Gorman Wows the Nation With “The Hill We Climb”

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  • Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, impressed the nation when she read “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history.
  • Gorman’s said the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol inspired her to focus on a message of hope, community, and healing in her poem.
  • Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Barack Obama, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have all praised her work.

Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wowed the nation on Wednesday as she spoke of healing, unity, hope, and what it means to be American while reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

At 22-years-old Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 at the age of 16. She then became the first national youth poet laureate in 2017. 

Now, her books are topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list and they are not even scheduled to be released until the fall.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden became a fan of Gorman after watching her give a reading at the Library of Congress. She then suggested that Gorman be a part of the ceremony. 

“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried,” Gorman recited during inauguration. “That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.”

Like President Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment and has been open about her experience overcoming it. She actually used poetry as a tool to correct it. First, she used it as a way of expressing herself without having to speak. Then she used it to bring her poems to life.

“Once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, ‘you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn’t enough for me,” she told CBS News. “I have to give them breath, and life, I have to perform them as I am.’ That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment.”

What Inspired “The Hill We Climb”

Gorman said the inaugural committee gave her freedom and flexibility when it came to choosing what to write about. She was well on her way before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those events then influenced her writing. 

“It energized me even more to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope, community and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.  

That message came across clearly and the insurrection was depicted in part of “The Hill We Climb.”

“It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy and this effort very nearly succeeded,” she said. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us.”

Nation Impressed by Gorman

“Wow…Wow, I just, wow you’re awesome,” Cooper said when closing his interview with her. “I am so transfixed.” 

Lin-Manuel Miranda also cheered Gorman on. “The Hill We Climb” notably references a line of scripture that appears in a “Hamilton” song. Gorman also said she used to sing the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” to help her say her R sounds and correct her speech impediment. 

“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” Oprah Winfrey wrote. “Brava Brava Amanda Gorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”

Winfrey also gave Gorman a ring with a caged bird on it—a reference to the famous Angelou poem— which Gorman wore during the inauguration. 

Actor Mark Ruffalo joined the onslaught of praise, saying that her words will lead the nation. 

Former President Barack Obama echoed that idea as well, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gorman promised to run for president one day. 

See what others are saying: (CBS News) (New York Times) (Los Angeles Times)

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SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section

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  • The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June. 
  • The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
  • Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary. 
  • It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.

College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay

College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.

Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”

The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary. 

While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S. 

Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.

With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.

The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test

In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.

In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.

According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.

For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (The New York Times)

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Biden To Block Trump’s Order Lifting COVID-19 Travel Ban

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  • President Trump issued an executive order Monday lifting a ban on travelers from the Schengen area of Europe, the U.K., Ireland, and Brazil. 
  • Trump said the policy will no longer be needed starting Jan. 26, when the CDC will start requiring all passengers from abroad to present proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight.
  • The move was cheered by the travel industry; however, incoming White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki warned that Biden’s administration does not intend to lift the travel restrictions. 

Trump Order End To COVID-19 Travel Ban

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Monday ending his administration’s ban on travelers from the Schengen area of Europe, the U.K., Ireland, and Brazil.

That ban was put in place last spring in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. In his announcement, however, Trump said the policy will no longer be needed starting Jan. 26, when new rules from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention go into effect.

Starting that day, the CDC will require all passengers from abroad to present proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight.

The recommendation to lift the ban reportedly came from Alex Azar, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. According to Trump’s proclamation, “the Secretary reports high confidence that these jurisdictions will cooperate with the United States in the implementation of CDC’s January 12, 2021, order and that tests administered there will yield accurate results.”

It’s worth noting that the ban will stay in place for travelers from Iran and China. Still, Trump’s announcement was generally cheered by members of the travel industry who have been pushing to lift the ban and require preflight testing instead. 

Biden To Block Trump’s Order

Soon after the news broke, the incoming White House press secretary for President-elect Joe Biden, Jennifer Psaki, warned that Biden would block Trump’s order.

“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” she wrote on Twitter.

“On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26.  In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” she added.

With that, it seems unlikely that Trump’s order will actually take effect. 

It’s also worth noting that this is one of many executive orders Trump has issued just before inauguration day.

Source: Whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions

Some of these orders could soon be overturned once Biden takes office Wednesday. Biden is also expected to roll out his own wave of executive orders in his first 10 days as president.

See what others are saying: (The Wall Street Journal) (The New York Times) (CNN)

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