Apparently unsatisfied that the economy will, in fact, rebound in time for the election, the Trump administration is considering measures to provide further support without having to go through Congress.
One idea, a pair of officials familiar with the discussions said, is to delay the tax filing deadline to September 15 or even as late as December. It was, of course, already pushed from April to July.
And that’s not all. The White House may also attempt to shield businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits by executive decree. “Officials are looking into whether the president can take executive action to protect businesses from lawsuits if employees become infected with coronavirus while on the job”, NBC says, citing sources. “Lawmakers have discussed some liability protection but administration officials see the issue as urgent”.
There’s also talk of a moratorium on new regulations.
All of this depends on the evolution of reopening plans, which Trump is now keen to accelerate, going so far as to say, repeatedly, that higher death and infection rates are a cost America should be willing to incur if it means flipping the “closed” signs to “open” and lifting the figurative and literal shutters.
“Do you believe the reality is that lives will be lost to reopen the economy?”, ABC’s David Muir asked the president in an interview on Tuesday.
“It’s possible there will be some, because you won’t be locked into an apartment or a house or whatever it is”, Trump remarked. “But at the same time, we’re going to practice social distancing. We’re going to be washing hands”.
Trump and his advisors have also discussed a variety of tax cuts, but it sounds as though the White House might be coming around to the notion that one way to cut taxes without going through Capitol Hill is simply to say that nobody has to pay them this year.
On Wednesday evening, I cited a new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, which suggests that more than half of America’s small businesses will exhaust their capacity to keep going by the end of October.
According to NBC, some version of that same prediction “infuriated” Trump during discussions about the economy headed into the summer months.
Here’s NBC with more:
Some of the projections showed the unemployment rate skyrocketing above 30 percent and the widespread collapse of small businesses, according to multiple people familiar with the briefings. One person briefed on the numbers said at least one of the projections warned of the potential collapse of as much as 50 percent of the country’s small businesses. Other officials said that number was higher than the projections they’d seen.
The projections have infuriated Trump, who just two months ago told Americans in his State of the Union address that “our economy is the best it has ever been,” two of the people familiar with the briefings said.
“He lost it,” one of them said.
Just prior to the onset of the pandemic, the president abandoned even the pretense that the administration’s assessment of the economy is based in reality. For example, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Trump declared he had “created an [economic] boom the likes of which the world has never seen before”, an assertion so absurd that those in attendance must have been stunned, even as they were fully apprised of the US president’s penchant for bombast.
To be fair, there were, in fact, a good many nice things you could have said about the US economy prior to COVID-19. Indeed, you may have conjured a fairly long list of economic accomplishments attributable in one way or another to Trump-o-nomics itself.
But there was never a sense in which the US economy was experiencing a miraculous boom of historic proportions under Trump. The idea that he was presiding over a “boom” that would be immortalized in the history books as some kind of epic renaissance was wholly absurd, and through no fault of his own. As Janet Yellen tried to explain to Trump before she was replaced, emerging market-like growth isn’t possible for the most advanced economy on the planet.
Fast forward three months from Davos, and the world is in a depression.
Sources said a planning session at Camp David also found some aides dusting off the idea of indexing capital gains to inflation. That, you’re reminded, would amount to a $100 billion windfall for the rich, and has apparently been ruled out (again).
“In terms of legislation, officials said the president continues to back a payroll tax cut, despite opposition from even members of his own party, and infrastructure spending, though some of the economic advice he’s received argues against additional spending”, NBC goes on to recount, describing a situation that sounds like it must be maddening for Trump.
In any case, when it comes to the historically bad economic numbers that will continue to roll in over the next several months, including Friday’s jobs report, one source said simply: “We’re not going to shy away from them”.
You gotta own it. Even when it’s not your fault. As much as this president doesn’t hew to the notion that “the buck stops here”, it always does. Especially in election years.