WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday confirmed that he is considering a temporary payroll tax cut amid mounting concerns about an economic slowdown.
Trump’s remarks came one day after The Washington Post reported that several senior White House officials had begun discussing such a move.
“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 Tuesday during an exchange with reporters at the White House.
The White House had previously disputed that a payroll tax was under consideration. Trump said the United States is “far” from a recession and cautioned that a tax proposal isn’t imminent.
“I’m not talking about doing anything at this moment,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday, in an interview on Fox News, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley reiterated that denial.
“It’s not being considered at this time, but he’s looking at all options out there to try and give people back so much of the hard-earned money they’ve made,” Gidley said.
The White House has, in recent days, sought to exude confidence about the economy’s strength while at the same time hunting for ways to bolster business and consumer confidence. Business spending already has pulled back, in part because of fears about the trade war, but consumer spending has remained robust. If Americans begin to tighten their belts later this year, the economy could suffer new strain.
Millions of Americans pay a payroll tax on their earnings, a 6.2 percent levy that is used to finance Social Security programs. The payroll tax was last cut in 2011 and 2012, to 4.2 percent, during the Obama administration as a way to encourage more consumer spending during the most recent economic downturn. But the cut was allowed to reset back up to 6.2 percent in 2013.