Trump Pitches Steps to Fight Effects of Coronavirus

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. March 11, 2020
The White House

​President Donald Trump and his top economic officials urged Senate Republicans on March 10 to adopt a payroll tax cut to counteract the financial fallout of the coronavirus. Tax credits for small businesses that want to provide sick leave to their workers were also discussed. House leaders are reported to be skeptical of the payrolll tax cut and are instead proposing emergency paid sick leave provisions for employees if they have to be away from their jobs for any reason related to the virus; to offset the costs of coronavirus testing and co-pays to consult physicians; and to help workers who are compensated with tips, who work in the gig economy, or who have irregular, on-demand shifts or seasonal work that may shrink in a troubled economy, The Hill reports. We've gathered articles on the administration's proposals from trusted news outlets.

Purpose of the Payroll Tax Cut Proposal

All employees and employers pay a 6.2 percent payroll tax on wages capped at $137,700. That money goes toward specific programs like Social Security, health care, unemployment compensation and workers' compensation. Employees also pay a Medicare tax of 1.45 percent. The cut in payroll taxes would be an attempt to boost the economy after the steepest stock market drop in more than a decade.

(Fox Business)

Conversation Was Not Conclusive

Ideas discussed at the meeting with Republican senators were just a starting point and some Republican senators were skeptical about a payroll tax cut. Lawmakers asked how effective it would be during an outbreak when people are hunkered down at home. Trump suggested the tax cut would last through the November presidential election.


Proposed Tax Cut Criticized

A payroll tax cut is not needed right now, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. "What the economy needs right now is some stability and confidence that we are addressing the issue that is undermining the economy," he said. "We need to make sure that people in health facilities and insurance companies and others have confidence that they're not going to be bankrupted by this and they'll have some support of the government."

(The Washington Post)

Democrats Introduce Bill to Require Paid Sick Leave

Democrats have their own paid sick leave proposals. On March 6, Democrats in the House and Senate introduced legislation that would require all U.S. employers to grant workers paid sick days. The bill unveiled by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., would require all employers to let workers accrue seven days of paid sick leave and immediately provide 14 additional days when there is a public health emergency. The bills would ensure that paid sick leave can be used in a public health emergency for taking care of children if schools are closed or if a worker or family member is quarantined.

(The Hill)

Restaurant Company Provides Paid Sick Leave

Even absent federal legislation, Darden Restaurants, which operates Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse, said March 9 that it would provide paid sick leave to all hourly workers. The company already was considering the policy change but the coronavirus outbreak sped up the decision.


Walmart Adopts Leave Policies

Following a positive test for coronavirus by one of its store employees, Walmart has issued COVID-19 leave policies in force through the end of April. The first waives its attendance policy if a worker feels unable to work, letting employees stay at home and use their regular paid time off. If a facility or employee is quarantined, the company will provide up to two weeks of pay and the absences won't count against the workers. An employee who tests positive will receive two weeks of pay with additional pay for up to 26 weeks if the worker can't then return.




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