“I can do anything better than you.” President Trump on Saturday issued a mix of memoranda and an executive order, which he incorrectly described as “bills.” One action tries to defer payroll tax payments from September through December for people who earn less than $100,000. Trump signed another document which aims to provide an additional $400 in weekly unemployment benefits. The federal government would cover 75 percent of the cost, using disaster relief money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The remaining 25 percent would be paid by states.
“No, you can’t.” “Yes, I can.” Trump’s unemployment benefit boost would be a new program that could take months to set up. As for the payroll tax deferral, companies would have to agree to comply, since they’d have to withdraw large sums from their employees’ paychecks when taxes ultimately are due. But Trump said that if he wins reelection he will seek to forgive the deferred taxes and make permanent cuts to payroll taxes. He did not indicate how Social Security and Medicare would subsequently be funded. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said “You just have a transfer from the general fund.”
“Anything you can be, I can be greater.” Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described Trump’s actions as “unworkable, weak and narrow policy announcements” and urged their Republican colleagues to return to the bargaining table to work out a fifth coronavirus relief bill. Negotiators on both sides failed to reach any common ground over the weekend.
“Sooner or later, I’m greater than you.” Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York introduced last week the “Make Billionaires Pay Act.” Their bill would impose a one-time 60 percent tax on wealth gains made by billionaires between March 18, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2021. As of August 5, the senators say, that’s $421.7 billion in potential tax revenue. They would use the tax revenue to pay for a year’s worth of out-of-pocket health care expenses for everyone in America.
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