Trump says coronavirus "will go away" and urges Americans to "just stay calm"
President Trump is urging Americans to remain calm in the face of fear about the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. "It will go away, just stay calm," Mr. Trump said of the coronavirus Tuesday. He added, "Be calm. It's really working out. And a lot of good things are going to happen."
He went to the Capitol, accompanied by Vice President Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and economic adviser Larry Kudlow, to meet with Republican lawmakers to discuss how to address the economic fallout from the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr. Trump is optimistic about Republican plans to counter the economic impact of coronavirus, which has caused the markets to tumble and created uncertainty for millions of working Americans. Touting the "great unity within the Republican party," he promised reporters, "You'll be hearing about it soon."
The president is "calling for payroll tax relief," as well as help for hourly and blue-collar workers who don't have paid family leave, Vice President Pence said Tuesday evening during a briefing on coronavirus. Kudlow called the payroll tax cut holiday a "bold move" and said that later this summer or early fall, the White House would also "unveil another package of tax cut and tax reform proposals." He did not say how the proposals would be funded.
But Republican and Democratic members of Congress alike seem skeptical that a payroll tax cut is the right approach to address any negative economic effects of coronavirus in the U.S.
"I don't know if a payroll tax cut is the right stimulus, but we need something," South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsey Graham said just before President Trump's visit to the Capitol.
Graham suggested that paid leave for people in affected industries, like airline and hospitality, might be a targeted, effective measure.
"You really have to keep the economy from being locked down when it comes to travel," Graham said. "All those jobs associated with the travel industry I think are most at risk."
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, also thinks a payroll tax holiday would be inadequate.
"With respect to a payroll tax cuts specifically, it just doesn't do a whole lot for people who are losing out on shifts, people who get tips as a big part of their take-home pay, people who don't have sick leave days," Wyden told reporters.
President Trump also defended his administration's performance on the provision of coronavirus testing. In response to a question from "CBS Evening News" anchor Norah O'Donnell about why the U.S. has been so slow to ramp up coronavirus testing, Mr. Trump replied, "No, I think the U.S. has done a very good job on testing."
"We had to change things that were done that were nobody's fault," he also said, adding, "We made the changes. But the testing has gone very well. And when people need a test, they can get a test."
During a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on Monday night, the president said the White House is working with Congress and businesses to make sure hourly workers "never miss a paycheck," as well as with the hospitality industry and cruise companies and airlines. Mr. Trump also said his administration would raise the possibility of a payroll tax cut.
Paula Reid, Alan He, Grace Segers and Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.
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