Trump floats payroll tax cut, other financial relief amid coronavirus outbreak

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President Donald Trump on Monday said he will be meeting with Senate and House Republicans on Tuesday to discuss “a possible tax relief measure to provide “a timely and effective response to the coronavirus.”

“We are to be meeting with House Republicans, Mitch McConnell, and discussing a possible payroll tax cut or relief, substantial relief, very substantial relief,” Trump said at a press briefing with coronavirus task force members.

“It’s a big number,” he added. “We’re also going to be talking about hourly wage earners getting help so they can be in a position where they’re not going to miss a paycheck.”

Earlier Monday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the Senate Finance Committee is considering “targeted tax relief measure” to provide a “timely and effective response to the coronavirus.”

“This was something that we were thrown into and we’re gonna handle it and we have been handling it very well,” Trump said of the U.S. response to the outbreak, which has been rising in severity since December.

The Trump administration has been sending mixed messages to the public amid the expanding crisis. 

On Monday morning, Health Secretary Alex Azar stressed in an interview on Fox News that the United States regards the situation with gravity, saying the coronavirus “is a very serious health problem. Nobody is trying to minimize that.”

But shortly after, as the stock market plunged, President Donald Trump downplayed the impact of the outbreak in a tweet.

“So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on,” he said. “At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

The coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to dozens of countries globally with more than 113,000 confirmed cases worldwide and at least 3,996 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

There have been at least 607 cases in the United States and at least 22 deaths, according to the latest tallies from John Hopkins University. 

The outbreak has roiled markets and led governments to take drastic actions as it rapidly spreads across the globe. 

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This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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