President Donald Trump cycled back to payroll tax cuts in a tweet he published on Saturday after another morning of golf. While a payroll tax cut does not have the support of some Senate Republicans and was not included in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposed HEALS Act, Trump has repeatedly voiced support for them. Payroll tax cuts help fund programs like Social Security and Medicare, which some fear will run out of money in the future, with millions of Americans unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Payroll Tax Cut plus Dollars!" Trump wrote. On Friday, Trump published several tweets blasting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for not supporting a short-term extension of the federal unemployment benefit included in the CARES Act, which expired that day. Pelosi, who did include benefit extensions in the HEROES Act, has called for a longer-term extension to be included in a larger stimulus package.
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced the HEALS Act, which did not include the payroll tax cut. Trump's Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, also confirmed the payroll tax cut would not be included, even though Trump has said he would not sign any bill without it. On Tuesday, he called the HEALS Act "semi-irrelevant because the Democrats come with their needs and ask, and the Republicans go with theirs. So we'll be discussing that with Mitch and all of the other people involved."
Trump has been talking up payroll tax cuts for months, even suggesting it would be better than another round of direct stimulus check payments. However, experts have questioned how useful they would be. The payroll taxes would help people with jobs the most, not those who are unemployed. Garrett Watson, the senior policy analyst for the Tax Foundation, told ABC News in May there is little evidence that a payroll tax cut would boost employment.
"When you do a temporary tax cut like what the White House is proposing, the literature generally finds there isn't a big effect on employment levels, Wilson explained. "If you look at the 2009, 2 percentage points payroll tax cut under the Obama administration, the evidence bears out that most of that federal tax cut was saved by consumers."
Also, cutting funds going to Social Security, Medicare, and other federal programs might create budget shortfalls in the future. The Social Security Fund is reportedly expected to run out of money by 2032 and the Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out in two years. That issue inspired Sen. Mitt Romney to introduced the TRUST Act, which would create bipartisan committees to propose fixes for the funds, which would then be presented to Congress for votes.