September 2, 2020 - Douglas Myser

Payroll tax cut axed in stimulus bill. Republicans crafting their own plan for a new U.S. virus bill broadly endorsed a fresh round of stimulus checks to individuals extended supplemental jobless benefits and more money for testing while voicing doubts over President Trump's desired payroll tax cut. The problems began in negotiations with Democrats on legislation to prop up the hobbled U.S. economy. The differences between the GOP and White House threatens to push any action on the stimulus into August. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows started the day saying their goal was to get a stimulus bill out of Congress by the end of next week. But after getting push back from Senate Republicans on several issues, including the payroll tax cut, they were dialing back expectations. Payroll tax cut axed in stimulus bill.

"I don't want to put any deadline on it," Meadows said before heading to a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. Mnuchin and Meadows met earlier over lunch with Republican Senators, but no outline for legislation emerged. Louisiana republican Senator John Kennedy said the two Trump advisors discussed a lot of ideas, but "we haven't reached a conclusion on anything." Economists say $1 trillion or more is needed to avert U.S. disaster. Schumer and Pelosi said the lack of consensus among Republicans means real negotiations cannot start yet to bridge the differences between the GOP plan for $1 trillion stimulus and the Democrats proposal for a $3.5 trillion package.

"They are not close to getting ready to negotiate," Schumer said after the meeting with Mnuchin and Meadows, laying the blame on Trump. Pelosi said, "their delay is their disarray." The White House and Congress have only a few weeks to come up with another stimulus before lawmakers take a scheduled August break and the $2.9 trillion flood of federal money passed by Congress earlier in the year begins to dry up.

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