See below for video and a transcript of Sen. Mark Warner, on MSNBC this morning, discussing what needs to be done regarding the coronavirus and the economy. According to Sen. Warner, the proposed coronavirus “payroll tax cut seems to be a quickie traditional response, not something that’s been thought through.” Sen. Warner added: “You have to wonder, when an American President goes to the CDC with a national virus and wears a campaign hat at that trip whether we can take this administration seriously or believe they’re fully independent.”
“First of all, we need to take a deep breath and a step back and recognize that the traditional tools – an interest rate cut, some kind of general stimulus where we give everybody x amount of money, targeted tax cuts or, for that matter, the idea of what the President is proposing, a payroll tax cut – isn’t going to help workers who have been furloughed or lost their jobs.”
“So what we ought to be focusing on are two universes: those individuals who, by direction or by the fact that they’ve got the illness, have to self-quarantine. No one should lose their job, lose their pay. There also needs to be flexibility – if your kid’s school is closed, to deal with those kind of life issues.”
“And then we ought to put real focus on those industries in retail, restaurant, airline, hotels who are going to get hit, even if they’re not quarantined. So, for example, if there was targeted tax relief to any of those industries, that tax relief has to be a pass through so that the dollars actually go to the workers, not just to shore up the corporate bottom line.”
“For small businesses we need some, in a sense, regulatory relief for the banks to be able to let things slide a little bit on payments.
That’s going to require the regulators working with them. And for folks who are self-quarantining, we may need to be able to use and there needs to be a chip-in from the employer and from the public. One idea that I’m looking into is, can we use the unemployment insurance – those dollars have been stacking up. We’ve had low unemployment. Those funds are already there. Waive the seven-day requirement before you go on parts of unemployment, if you’re quarantined or if you — it looks like you may be furloughed because of those quarantines. And make sure we get the dollars to the workers and families being affected.”
“I worry with this administration there’s not a lot of confidence that they are going to play this straight. We’ve not see them play it straight on the health care end. My feeling is this payroll tax cut seems to be a quickie traditional response, not something that’s been thought through. If there are abilities to have flexibility within a national emergency, I’m open to that, but it’s got to be with a willingness to work with both parties in Congress so that we don’t end up with something that is simply, again, a presidential campaign tactic. You have to wonder, when an American President goes to the CDC with a national virus and wears a campaign hat at that trip whether we can take this administration seriously or believe they’re fully independent.”