Trump proposes payroll tax cut, other measures to offset coronavirus economic damage

President Donald Trump said Monday that he is looking at a possible payroll tax cut, along with other measures, to help American workers and boost the economy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.

He said he’d announce the “dramatic” details of the proposed relief on Tuesday. “They will be major,” he said.

Trump said he’d be discussing with Republicans in Congress “a possible payroll tax cut, or relief, substantial relief, very substantial relief, it’s a big number. We’re also going to talk about hourly wage earners getting help so they can be in a position where they’re not ever going to miss a paycheck.”

He said they’ll “also be working on loans for small businesses,” and working to help airlines and cruise lines, as well the hotel industry, which his company is involved in.

“The American public will be taken care of,” Trump said.

Trump has long advocated for a cut on the payroll tax – a tax paid by companies and employees to fund Social Security — as a way of stimulating the economy.

While the president and the administration appear anxious to shore up what could be a spiraling economy, it could be a hard sell for Republicans. Senate Republican leaders have so far been reluctant and non-committal on a stimulus. Congress just passed an $8.3 billion coronavirus aid bill and the government is already running massive deficits.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said a stimulus seemed “premature.” Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said, “I don’t think that’s warranted.”

Trump announced the measures after the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the day with a loss of around 2,000 points Monday, part of a global market rout that saw spiraling sell-offs in the energy sector amid the biggest drop for crude oil since the Gulf War in 1991.

Crude oil prices cratered by 25 percent after the world’s producing countries failed to strike a deal at a meeting between oil cartel members in Vienna last week.

Trump made the comments hours after being on Air Force One with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who announced on Monday he was self-quarantining after learning that he was exposed to a person with coronavirus at the Conservative Political Action Conference late last month.

Rep. Doug Collins, R.-Ga., also learned he interacted with the same person at CPAC and announced that he was self-quarantining as well. Collins greeted Trump with a handshake when he touched down in Georgia on Friday and accompanied the president on a tour of the Atlanta headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Both Collins and Gaetz, who wore a gas mask on the House floor during the vote on the coronavirus emergency spending bill last week, have not reported having any symptoms of the virus.

Despite efforts by some politicians to move away from handshakes to prevent the spread of the virus — Vice President Mike Pence and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee greeted each other with an elbow bump last week — Trump has not.

Pence said Monday he did not know if Trump has been tested for the virus.

The number of known coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose to more than 600 on Monday, including 23 deaths.

Leigh Ann Caldwell and Julie Tsirkin contributed.