Friday on Fox News Channel’s “Cavuto,” House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) spoke out against a payroll tax cut proposed by the Trump administration.
Clyburn said even though former President Barack Obama signed a payroll tax cut in 2012, the issues facing the current economy are different because of the pandemic.
CAVUTO: All right, so let’s talk a little bit about what the president has proposed.
We talk about this measure right now to get virus relief checks out to people, much like we did when all of this started. Now, he’s added to that, as you know, on top of a payroll tax cut that he’s looking at those who earn up to $104,000 a year, extending unemployment benefits at $400 a week, $100 coming from states to kick in.
And there are — the devil in the details of that and how states could afford to do that. I get that, Congressman. But by opposing what he’s offering and coming up and trying to come up with another measure, do you risk looking callous, that he’s — there he is with an offer to get that aid out to people right away, and you’re blocking it?
CLYBURN: Well, I wish we had done more to block that unheard-of tax cut that was supposed to trickle down and make the economy better. Did it do that? No.
I will tell you what it did do. It got rid of–
CAVUTO: Well, wait, wait. I think it’s fair to say — you could argue over whether that was the lone catalyst, but we were doing fine before this virus arrived, right? We got down to 3.5 percent unemployment. The economy was chugging along. We had gained about 12 million jobs.
I mean, you could make a pretty good argument that we were bouncing back from that, and maybe the cut in regulations, the cut in taxes did that.
CLYBURN: Well, Neil, look, who are we?
I’m doing that because I know — it might be right to say is, but the fact of the matter is, W-E. Who is that? That ain’t the people that I represent.
They were not doing well before this virus. And they’re doing worse as a result of this virus.
The fact of the matter is, how do we keep judging the healthcare or the health of the economy by what’s happening on Wall Street? I judge it by what’s happening on Main Street, and, in some of these communities, backstreet.
If they aren’t doing good, then I’m not doing good, because I go to–
CAVUTO: Congressman, you can revisit that. I understand what you’re saying, sir, but you can revisit that.
But for the time being on this stimulus measure the president is looking at, are you rejecting it out of hand? Because the president will come back and say, well, I was there to cut the payroll tax. I was there to extend unemployment benefits. These guys didn’t come to the table. I did it on my own.
Do you look indifferent to something I know you don’t like, but it’s better than nothing that’s already there now, right?
CLYBURN: Come on. A payroll tax only affects people who are on payrolls. If you aren’t on a payroll, the payroll tax doesn’t do anything for you.
I’m looking out for people–
CAVUTO: But isn’t that where the employment benefits kick in? But, Congressman, isn’t that where the unemployment benefits kick in, help for those who have work, help for those who don’t have work?
And when the payroll tax cut was an issue, you were for it when Barack Obama had it, right?
CLYBURN: Yes. And we didn’t have a pandemic when Barack Obama was there.
We did have a Great Recession. Remember that? The Great Recession of 2008. I was in the room when it was declared — when OMB and the secretary of the Treasury came in there and said–
CAVUTO: But you have already stated things are very bad. You have already stated things are very bad with the pandemic as we speak.
And a payroll tax cut, if it was warranted then, not only once, but twice, under Barack Obama, why isn’t it warranted now?
CLYBURN: Simply because we did not have a pandemic when he did this.
We now have a pandemic. We have got people who are sick. We have got over 160,000 people who are dead. That’s why. The times are different. And so what we have got to do now is get people well, get people out of these nursing homes, out of these hospitals, and back to work.
So, we can’t worry about giving a payroll tax to people who are working, when you have got people in hospital beds and–
CAVUTO: All right.