WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Thursday reluctantly dropped his bid to cut Social Security payroll taxes as Republicans stumbled anew in efforts to unite around a $1 trillion COVID-19 rescue package to begin negotiations with Democrats who are seeking far more.
Frustrating new delays came as the administration scrambled to avert the cutoff next week of a $600-per-week bonus unemployment benefit that has helped prop up the economy while staving off financial disaster for millions of people thrown out of work since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Trump yielded to opposition to the payroll tax cut among his top Senate allies, claiming in a Twitter post that Democratic opposition was the reason. In fact, top Senate Republicans disliked the expensive idea in addition to opposition from Democrats for the cut in taxes that finance Social Security and Medicare.
“The Democrats have stated strongly that they won’t approve a Payroll Tax Cut (too bad!). It would be great for workers. The Republicans, therefore, didn’t want to ask for it,” Trump contended.
“The president is very focused on getting money quickly to workers right now, and the payroll tax takes time,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the Capitol. Only Sunday, Trump said in a Fox News interview that “I would consider not signing it if we don’t have a payroll tax cut.”