Economy: Washington debates stimulus plan
Deep divisions were evident this week as lawmakers and President Trump began negotiating “an emergency relief package to bolster an economy battered by the coronavirus crisis,” said Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jim Tankersley in The New York Times. With markets collapsing, Trump called for an elimination of payroll taxes through the end of 2020. Most legislators of both parties opposed the plan, which would cost $700 billion, but some “believe it could ultimately be included in a broader package focused on sick pay, unemployment benefits, and food assistance.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats would come up with their own plan, including help for hourly workers who fall ill.
The president may not seem to worry that much about public health, but at least “he’s been quick to jump on the idea of a major economic stimulus package,” said Jonathan Bernstein in Bloomberg.com. The enormous payroll-tax cut he asked for in “an impulsive announcement” isn’t likely to get much support. But he’s opened the door to a major spending package, which the economy badly needs, and fortunately the Democrats want to “pass something quickly,” too. The final bill probably won’t look much like the payroll-tax cut and industry bailouts that Trump seems to prefer. But that won’t matter much to President Trump, who cares more about results than ideology. ■