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President Donald Trump takes questions from reporters during an event in the East Room of the White House April 28, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

'Pathetic': Trump Says No to Additional Covid-19 Stimulus Checks, Backs Cutting Tax That Funds Social Security Instead

"Cutting payroll taxes does nothing to help seniors or the millions of people who just lost their jobs. It does, however, defund Social Security and Medicare—which is why Trump is obsessed with the idea."

Jake Johnson

President Donald Trump on Tuesday expressed opposition to providing additional direct relief payments on top of the $1,200 checks that are slowly trickling out to eligible U.S. households, saying he would instead prefer to slash the tax that funds Social Security and Medicare.

"Well, I like the idea of payroll tax cuts," Trump said at a press conference when asked about the idea of authorizing another round of direct payments in the next coronavirus stimulus package as mass layoffs continue.

"A payroll tax cut does nothing for the 26 million who lost their jobs."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

"I've liked that from the beginning," the president said. "That was a thing that I really would love to see happen. A lot of economists would agree with me. A lot of people agree with me. And I think frankly it's simple, it's not the big distribution, and it would really be an incentive for people to come back to work and for employers to hire."

Watch:

Trump has floated the idea of a payroll tax cut several times in recent weeks—suggesting at one point earlier this month that the cut should be permanent—even though the move would not provide any relief for the tens of millions of people who have lost their jobs since mid-March.

"Economists don't actually agree with him," said Justin Wolfers, economics professor at the University of Michigan. "Payroll tax cuts are too slow and poorly targeted."

But a payroll tax cut would advance a longstanding objective of the conservative movement by striking a blow to Social Security and Medicare funding, advocacy groups pointed out. The CARES Act, which Trump signed into law last month, contained a little-noticed provision allowing employers to delay payment of the payroll tax for at least the rest of 2020.

"Unlike additional stimulus checks, cutting payroll taxes does nothing to help seniors or the millions of people who just lost their jobs," tweeted Social Security Works. "It does, however, defund Social Security and Medicare—which is why Trump is obsessed with the idea."

The president's opposition to additional direct payments comes as progressive lawmakers and activists are pushing for $2,000 monthly payments to all U.S. households for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis because the initial $1,200—for those lucky enough to have received it—was far from sufficient to cover basic expenses.

"Pathetic," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in response to Trump's remarks. "A payroll tax cut does nothing for the 26 million who lost their jobs. With rent due on May 1, we need to provide $2,000 a month to everyone until this crisis is over. If we can bail out corporations, we can make sure everyone has enough to pay for basic necessities."


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80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·


In 10 Key US Senate Races, Here's How Top Candidates Responded to Roe Ruling

While Republicans unanimously welcomed the Supreme Court's rollback of half a century of reproductive rights, one Democrat said "it's just wrong that my granddaughter will have fewer freedoms than my grandmother did."

Brett Wilkins ·


Sanders Says End Filibuster to Combat 'Outrageous' Supreme Court Assault on Abortion Rights

"If Republicans can end the filibuster to install right-wing judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, Democrats can and must end the filibuster, codify Roe v. Wade, and make abortion legal and safe," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·


Patients in Trigger-Ban States Immediately Denied Abortion Care in Post-Roe US

Some people scheduled to receive abortions were turned away within minutes of the right-wing Supreme Court's decision to strike down Roe v. Wade.

Kenny Stancil ·

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