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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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Amazon Backs GOP Bill to Legalize Marijuana in Effort to Ramp Up Lobbying

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The proposal is the first Republican-sponsored marijuana bill Amazon has backed since the company first began lobbying for legalization last summer.


Amazon Endorses States Reform Act

Amazon announced Tuesday that it is endorsing a Republican-backed proposal to legalize marijuana.

The move comes as the e-commerce giant has ramped up its efforts to legalize cannabis on the federal level since it came out in support of the idea last summer. Amazon argues that the move would remove hiring barriers — which disproportionately impact people of color — and, in turn, could increase the company’s application pool and boost employee retention.

The company has previously backed similar proposals by forward by Democrats, but Tuesday’s announcement marks the first time Amazon has put its support behind a Republican-sponsored bill aimed at addressing the issue.

The legislation, called the States Reform Act, was authored by Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.). Among other measures, it would remove cannabis as a Schedule I substance, allow states to create their own laws, impose an excise tax, and regulate the drug in a similar fashion to alcohol.

While Mace’s bill is fundamentally very similar to others put forth by Democrats, by proposing it herself, the Republican hopes to rally other members of her party around the idea that legalization is pro-business, pro-state’s rights, and anti-big government.

The measure has already received support from the highly influential conservative group, American’s for Prosperity, which is funded by the Koch brothers.

Potential Momentum

Mace and Amazon have painted the company’s endorsement as a game-changer for garnering more support — both from other large corporations and politicians on either side of the aisle. Mace specifically told reporters she believes Amazon’s decision will push other companies to do the same. If more major corporations like Amazon back the effort, other Republicans may be more persuaded to jump on board.

That sentiment was echoed by Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, who said in an interview with The Washington Post that the company was “particularly excited by Congresswoman Mace’s bill because it shows that there’s bipartisan support for this issue.”

Huseman also emphasized that, as part of its decision to back her bill, Amazon will use its powerful influence in Washington to try and drum up bipartisan support.

“We are talking with members of both parties, including Republicans, about why we think this is the right thing to do, especially from the standpoint of a major employer and what this means for our business and our employees and broadening the employee base,” he continued.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Forbes) (Marijuana Moment)

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CDC Data Shows Booster Shots Provide Effective Protection Against Omicron

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Public health experts have encouraged Americans to get boosted to protect themselves against the omicron variant, but less than 40% of fully vaccinated people who are eligible for their third shot have received it.


A First Glimpse of Official Data on Boosters and Omicron

COVID-19 booster shots are effective at preventing Americans from contracting omicron and protecting those who do become infected from severe illness, according to three reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published Friday.

The reports mark the first real-world data regarding the highly infectious variant and how it has impacted the U.S.

One of the CDC reports, which studied data from 25 state and local health departments, found that there were 149 cases per 100,000 people among those had been boosted on average each week. 

In comparison, the figure was 255 cases per 100,000 people in Americans who had only received two shots.

Another study that looked at nearly 88,000 hospitalizations in 10 states found that the third doses were 90% effective at preventing hospitalization. 

By contrast, those who received just two shots were only 57% protected against hospitalization by the time they were eligible for a booster six months after their second dose.

Additionally, the same report also found that the boosters were 82% effective at preventing visits to emergency rooms and urgent care centers, a marked increase from the 38% efficacy for those who were six months out from their two-shot regime and had not yet received a third.

Low Booster Shot Vaccination Rates

Public health officials hope that the new data will urge more Americans to get their booster shots.

Since the emergence of omicron, experts and leading political figures have renewed their efforts to encourage people to get their third shots, arguing they are the best form of protection. 

The CDC currently recommends that everyone 12 and older get a booster shot five months after their second shot of Pfizer and Moderna or two months after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Still, in the U.S., less than 40% of fully vaccinated individuals eligible for a third shot have gotten one.

While COVID cases in the country have begun to drop over the past several days from their peak of over 800,000 average daily infections, the figures are still nearly triple those seen in the largest previous surges.

Hospitalizations have also slowly begun to level out over the last week in places that were hit first, such as New York City and Boston, but medical resources still remain strained in many parts of the country that experienced later surges and have not yet seen cases slow.

Some experts predict that the U.S. will see a sharp decline in omicron cases, as experienced in South Africa and Britain. Still, they urge American’s to get boosted to ensure their continued protection from the variant, as well as other strains that will emerge.

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

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California Bill Would Allow Kids 12 and Up to Get Vaccinated Without Parental Consent

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Nearly one million California teens and preteens between the ages of 12 and 17 are not vaccinated against COVID-19. 


State Senator Proposes Legislation

Legislation proposed in California on Thursday would allow children age 12 and up to get vaccinated without parental consent. 

State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced Bill 866 in the hope it could boost vaccination rates among teenagers. According to Wiener, nearly one million kids aged 12- to 17-years old remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 in the state of California. 

“Unvaccinated teens are at risk, put others at risk & make schools less safe,” Wiener tweeted. “They often can’t work, participate in sports, or go to friends’ homes.”

“Many want to get vaccinated but parents won’t let them or aren’t making the time to take them. Teens shouldn’t have to rely on parents’ views & availability to protect themselves from a deadly virus.”

Currently, teens in California can receive vaccines for human papillomavirus and hepatitis B without parental consent. They can also make other reproductive or mental healthcare choices without a guardian signing off. Wiener argues that their medical autonomy should expand to all vaccines, especially during a pandemic that has already killed roughly 78,000 Californians. 

Vaccine Consent Across the U.S.

“Teens shouldn’t have to plot, scheme or fight with their parents to get a vaccine,” he said. “They should simply be able to walk in & get vaccinated like anyone else.”

Bill 866 would allow any kids ages 12 and up to receive any vaccine approved or granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, Pfizer’s COVID vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA for those 16 and older. It has received emergency authorization for ages five through 15. 

Across the United States, vaccine consent ages vary. While the vast majority of states require parental approval for minors to be vaccinated against COVID-19, kids as young as 11 can get the jab on their own in Washington, D.C. In Alabama, kids can receive it without parental consent at 14, in Oregon at 15, and in Rhode Island and South Carolina at 16. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, providers can waive consent in certain cases in Arkansas, Idaho, Washington, and Tennesee.

In October, California became the first state to announce plans to require that students receive the COVID-19 vaccine to attend class. The mandate has yet to take effect, but under the guidelines, students will be “required to be vaccinated for in person learning starting the term following FDA full approval of the vaccine for their grade span.” 

In other words, once the FDA gives a vaccine full approval for those aged 12 and up, it will be required the following session for kids in grades 7-12. Once it does so for kids as young as five, the same process will happen for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. There will also be room for exemptions from the mandate. 

The Fight to Vaccinate California

This week, a group of California state legislators formed a Vaccine Work Group in order to boost public health policies in the state. Wiener is among the several members who are “examining data, hearing from experts, and engaging stakeholders to determine the best approaches to promote vaccines that have been proven to reduce serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.”

“Vaccines protect not only individuals but also whole communities when almost everyone is vaccinated at schools, workplaces and businesses, and safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines have already prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans,” Sen. Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) said in a press release. “Public safety is a paramount duty of government, and I am proud to join a talented group of legislators in the pro-science Vaccine Work Group who want to end this disastrous pandemic and protect Californians from death and disability by preventable diseases.”

While vaccine policies have been a divisive subject nationwide, including in California, state politicians and leaders are hopeful public health initiatives will prevail. 

“If we allow disinformation to drive our state policy making we will not only see more Americans needlessly suffer and die, but we will sacrifice the long term stability of our society having effectively abandoned the idea that we all must work together to protect each other in times of crisis.” Catherine Flores Martin, the Executive Director of the California Immunization Coalition, added. 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (NBC News) (Sacramento Bee)

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