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Top Dems pan Trump’s payroll tax cut proposal; Pelosi and Schumer led praise for Obama’s in 2011

(File photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

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On Monday, after the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2013.76 points, the biggest daily drop ever in terms of points, President Donald Trump unveiled the first stage of a coronavirus bailout package to help protect the economy.

Speaking at a White House briefing, the president unveiled “very dramatic” proposals that included a payroll tax cut, help for hourly workers so they will not be penalized for missing work, and crisis loans for small businesses.

The Dow rebounded on Tuesday, posting its third-biggest point gain in history.

Above all, House Democrats were critical of the tax cuts, even though many of them were highly supportive of former President Barack Obama’s two-percent payroll tax cut in 2010, Fox News reported.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., characterized Obama’s payroll tax cut as a “victory for all Americans” and touted the notion that it would put “nearly $40 per paycheck in the pockets of the average family.”

“Today is a victory for all Americans – for the security of our middle class, for the health of our seniors, and for economic growth and job creation,” she said at the time, according to Fox News. “The American people spoke out clearly and, thanks to President Obama’s leadership, 160 million Americans will continue to receive their payroll tax cut – nearly $40 per paycheck in the pockets of the average family. I salute the work of the unified House Democratic caucus on behalf of the American people.”

Now contrast this to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who took issue with Trump’s use of tax cuts for the American people, insisting this wasn’t “what we need right now.”

“What the economy needs right now is some stability and confidence that we’re addressing the issue that is undermining the economy,” Hoyer said on Monday. “The president’s answer for almost everything is a tax cut. We think we need to make sure that people, and health facilities and insurance companies and others, have confidence that they’re not going to be bankrupted by this.”

Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are working on their own stimulus package that is not expected to include a payroll tax cut because they claim it amounts to “tax cuts for major corporations.”

“In light of reports that the Trump Administration is considering new tax cuts for major corporations impacted by the coronavirus, Leader Schumer and I released a statement calling on the Administration to prioritize the health and safety of American workers and their families over corporate interests,” Pelosi said in a letter to rank-and-file Democrats Monday evening, according to the Washington Examiner.

There were other examples of contrasting views on payroll tax cuts.

Schumer hit Trump on Monday for being “more focused on the stock market than addressing this pandemic.”

A stance he repeated in a tweet Tuesday night, as he panned the idea of a tax cut.

But he was all in on Obama’s payroll tax cut.

“House GOP trying to play catch-up on jobs but their stalling of payroll tax cut shows they are still putting politics before recovery,” he tweeted in August 2011.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., was cited by Fox News as calling Trump’s plan inadequate while pushing for more infrastructure spending.

However, Neal posted an article in 2018 outlining his support for Obama’s payroll tax.

He wrote: “In economic downturn we all used to agree — Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Socialists, far right — all agreed on two things, in an economic downturn you increased spending and you cut taxes. We did both. We cut the payroll tax and we embraced Obama’s plan for almost a trillion dollars in public spending and that helped get us out of where we were.”

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., was cited saying in 2011 that it was “outrageous” that the GOP would want to block a payroll tax.

Republican National Committee spokesperson Steve Guest suggested the Democrats’ sudden change of pace was little more than election-year opportunism.

“Like clockwork, Democrats never miss an opportunity to oppose President Trump,” Guest told Fox News.

Tom Tillison

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