Fox Business host Charles Payne said on “America’s Newsroom” on Thursday that he doesn’t understand why Democrats would oppose President Trump’s proposal to eliminate payroll taxes amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Payne made the comment shortly after the opening bell as U.S. equity markets cratered after President Trump suspended travel from Europe for 30 days in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday night, Trump also announced actions designed to ease the economic cost of the outbreak, including unspecified aid for workers impacted by the virus, a deferment of tax payments for some individuals and businesses and low-interest loans for small businesses. His address came hours after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 a global pandemic and the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. climbed to more than 1,200.
Democrats lined up on Tuesday to condemn Trump’s proposal to eliminate payroll taxes, even though many of them were lock-step in supporting former President Obama’s two-percent payroll tax cut in 2010.
“Let’s not politicize it,” Payne said on Thursday. “I don’t understand why the Democrats would be against a payroll tax cut. I just really don’t.”
“It helps small business employers a lot. It helps the employees a lot,” he continued.
Payne said it “would be a huge shot in the arm to the economy,” adding that “really what we are trying to find is a way to specifically focus on people who don’t have cushions.”
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“What does everyone agree on?” Payne asked. “Small businesses must be helped, everyone agrees that those folks working on the front lines, our healthcare workers, must be helped, everyone agrees that people who don’t have the wherewithal to go see a doctor because they don’t have health insurance or they’re afraid to miss work must be helped, the ‘gig economy’ is huge, what do we do for those folks?”
“I think there is unanimity helping those people. Start there and work out,” he added.
On Thursday, the White House and congressional Republicans poured cold water on the House Democrats’ coronavirus legislation to provide economic relief to Americans, signaling there won’t be immediate broad bipartisan support for the pending bill unless it undergoes changes.
One senior administration official said the White House has “serious concerns” with the measure put forth by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., late Wednesday to help families deal with the economic hardships of the pandemic. Pelosi did not include a payroll tax holiday in the legislation, which calls for paid sick leave and free testing and provides funding to states Democrats say will help address economic hardships faced by Americans as the country grapples with the coronavirus.
The 124-page bill was slated to be considered in the House Thursday before the House leaves for recess at the end of the week.
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“Right now President Trump and Congress, they’re feeling the pressure. Wall Street is pressuring Washington, D.C., also to do something,” Payne said.
He added, “If you think you’re going to go on a recess while these markets are plunging, then they’re going to keep plunging, then you’re going to have to figure something out. This market is going to make D.C. act.”
Fox Business’ Ken Martin, Jonathan Garber, Gregg Re, Marisa Schultz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.