WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he’s considering a payroll tax cut as one of several possible ways to stimulate the economy — a comment that comes just a day after the White House dismissed reports that such a move was being considered.
"Payroll tax is something that we think about, and a lot of people would like to see that, and that very much affects the workers of our country," Trump said at the White House when asked about reports that members of his administration were discussing such a tax cut to combat a possible economic slowdown.
On Monday, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that several senior White House officials were weighing a temporary payroll tax cut, among other tax breaks, in a sign of rising concern among the president's economic aides about the strength of the economy. Conversations about cutting the payroll tax were reportedly in the preliminary stage, and officials had not decided whether to formally ask Congress to approve such measures, the Post reported, citing three people familiar with the discussions.
A White House official, however, denied the reporting on Monday, saying that cutting payroll taxes was not being considered at the moment.
“As [National Economic Council Director] Larry Kudlow said yesterday, more tax cuts for the American people are certainly on the table, but cutting payroll taxes is not something under consideration at this time,” the official said.
Trump's apparent support for the idea on Tuesday comes as he has lashed out at the news media for their coverage of growing economic concerns, accusing them of purposefully trying to "crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election."
"I think the word recession is a word that’s inappropriate 'cause it’s a word that the certain people — I’m going to be kind — certain people, and the media, are trying to build up because they’d love to see a recession," he told reporters at the White House. "We’re very far from a recession. In fact, if the Fed would do its job, I think we’d have a tremendous spurt of growth."
Trump has repeatedly attacked the Federal Reserve, writing on Twitter on Monday that the economy "is very strong, despite the horrendous lack of vision by Jay Powell and the Fed."
Pressed on why Trump said he is considering the payroll tax cut just a day after the White House dismissed reports that it was under consideration, a White House official pointed to another of Trump's remarks Tuesday in which he suggested that action on tax cuts wouldn't be imminent: "I'm not talking about doing anything at this moment" related to such cuts, the president said.