It’s starting to look like the next coronavirus relief bill is being held hostage over one issue near and dear to the hearts of conservatives in the GOP: A payroll tax cut, which would deny the Social Security Trust Fund of billions in badly-needed dollars at a time when more people are retiring and retirees are living longer.
On Saturday, President Donald Trump called for a cut in the payroll tax, cut, though the wording of his tweet in support of such a move was strangely worded:
Payroll Tax Cut plus Dollars!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2020
According to Jeff Stein, economics reporter for the Washington Post, conservatives are even launching an ad blitz to build support for cutting payroll taxes across the board:
Conservatives to launch six-figure ad buy — tv and social media — to get payroll tax cut in the stimulus package
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) August 1, 2020
However, a payroll tax cut wouldn’t help the millions of Americans who are out of work and have much less money since enhanced unemployment benefits expired Friday. Many out of work Americans are also facing eviction since a moratorium on evictions also expired on Friday. That could lead to tens of millions being added to the ranks of the homeless.
Also, cutting payroll taxes wouldn’t add that much in the way of economic stimulus. In uncertain times such a the ones the U.S. is currently experiencing, consumers tend to hold on to extra money rather than spend it. So while the idea is to jump start the economy, that seems highly unlikely with the many challenges still facing the country as we head into the Fall and both COVID-19 and influenza threaten to overwhelm hospitals.
Conservatives have long dreamed of drastically slashing both Social Security and Medicare. If they get their way this time, both programs will likely be bankrupt in less than a decade.