United States President, Donald Trump has responded to the growing fears of a coronavirus outbreak in America by pitching a payroll tax cut to mitigate economic uncertainty.
While Trump has left responsibility for directing various healthcare departments in the hands of his Vice President, Mike Pence, he hasn’t shied away from taking the lead in terms of the economic response to the crisis.
In the White House briefing room on Monday, Pence tried to reassure the American public that the risk of contracting the disease remains low for the average person. Trump called for a tax cut as part of an economic stimulus package for the biggest downturn in US stock markets since the Great Recession of 2008.
Fears over COVID-19’s threat not only to public health, but the economy, grew dramatically on Monday after schools were closed down, politicians quarantined themselves and the number of cases increased.
According to The Hill, Trump will be asking for emergency legislation to pass in an effort to pass payroll tax cuts, increase small business micro-loans and provide relief for hourly workers.
However, Democrats are not impressed by Trump’s proposals and, when asked whether the legislation would be dead on arrival, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-New York) confessed that he thinks it would be.
“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,” he said, as quoted by The Hill.
There are concerns over people working within the gig economy and those who are losing their jobs due to the coronavirus and that a payroll tax cut would do nothing to help them. Democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi (D-California), are countering Trump’s proposal with their own legislation to enforce paid sick leave for workers who need to self-quarantine, enhanced unemployment insurance for people who lose their jobs as a result of the economic consequences of the virus and free coronavirus testing.
Trump has responded to Democrats “inflaming” the coronavirus situation on Twitter and has reiterated that the risk is low for the average person.
Meanwhile, in Italy, the country woke up to its first day in lockdown today, with its entire 60 million strong population being told to stay home today. American lawmakers have dismissed the notion of taking similar measures to avoid the spread of the virus.