Pelosi dismisses Trump call on payroll, capital gains taxes

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed President Donald Trump’s call for a payroll tax cut and changes in the capital gains tax, saying it wouldn’t help millions of unemployed workers and others struggling in an economy shut down by the pandemic.

Speaking Thursday in a Bloomberg Television interview, Pelosi also said the House may vote on its version of a new coronavirus rescue bill next week, which she said won’t cover new territory but will “dig deeper” in terms of addressing the country’s needs.

Regarding Trump’s demand for tax changes, Pelosi said she disagreed that should be a priority. “There are certain things that are urgent,” she said, while a discussion of tax policy can wait for another day.

She has indicated the expansive coronavirus relief plan House Democrats are drawing up could be a starting point in negotiations with Republicans whose support will be needed to get a bill to Trump’s desk.

She said her message to Republicans on the negotiations is, “Don’t draw any lines in the sand. We’re not.”

Earlier Thursday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters action on another bill should await hearings and other evaluations of how prior funds allocated for coronavirus relief are being used.

‘People are dying’

House members are likely to return to Washington next week and may vote on the Democrats’ plan, said Pelosi. At minimum, she said, there will be a vote on changing rules to let members cast proxy votes for absent colleagues as the coronavirus crisis continues.

There’s an urgency to act on further coronavirus relief, said Pelosi, because “people are dying.”

House Democratic members discussed the contents and timing of the next coronavirus bill during a caucus-wide call on Thursday. Leaders promised a 72-hour notice before a vote would occur to allow for travel to Washington, according to a person on the call.

Pelosi said in the Bloomberg interview the Democratic bill will contain three major parts: aid for state and local governments, including money directed to smaller cities and counties; funds for testing and other needs for reopening the economy; and “putting money in the pockets of the American people.”

Some moderate rank and file Democrats have raised concerns about whether the House should vote on a single-party version of the bill prior to deeper negotiations with Republicans and the White House.

Early marker

Other Democrats want to act quickly to lay down an early marker that will reflect their priorities.

McCarthy said during his press conference that a slower process is needed.

“Before we take up any new bill, let’s have hearings,” the Republican leader said. “Let’s have the information and data come back to us, and see if there’s a need.”

Pelosi was asked during her news conference if she was worried about increasing the national debt while addressing the coronavirus outbreak.

“I’m a pay-as-you-go person, much to the dismay of some in my party,” said Pelosi. “But what we’re talking about now is stimulus to our economy at a time when people are crippled with concern about their physical well-being, as well as their economic well-being.”

“Far better to spend our money that way” rather than the massive tax cut passed by Republicans in 2017, she said.

On another topic, Pelosi told Bloomberg TV she hopes she and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will come to an agreement and announce “in the next day or two” their joint selection of a chairman for a congressional oversight commission to oversee coronavirus spending.

Created under the $2.2 trillion pandemic relief bill, the panel was to issue its first report in mid-May but still has no leader and has yet to hold any formal meetings.

— With assistance from David Westin

Bloomberg News
Payroll taxes Tax cuts Nancy Pelosi Donald Trump Coronavirus Trump tax plan Capital gains taxes Mitch McConnell