Two columns.

(Nov. 30) Deferred Payroll taxes must be paid.

Lawmakers and some taxpayers will face a year-end mess because of an ill-advised executive action earlier this year by President Trump, but that doesn’t mean Congress should “fix” the mess.

Trump’s action in August allowed, but did not require, employers to stop collecting the 6.2% Social Security payroll tax from workers until the end of this calendar year. The move was nominally intended as a form of coronavirus-related economic relief, although it looked more like a Trump bid for votes than like a true relief effort.

The immediate problem begins with the fact that those taxes were not forgiven, just delayed….

Still, The proper response for Congress now is to do nothing….

[The full column is at this link.]

(Dec. 4) Congress should pass the Collins-Manchin coronavirus compromise.

Rarely is it the case that Congress shouldn’t sweat all the legislative details, but Congress is facing one of those rare situations now. Rather than haggle over every last element of a coronavirus relief package, Congress should approve the $908 billion compromise package put together by a bipartisan group of legislators — and do it now.

Frankly, I think the package is about 10 times too big. My own preference would be to lift restrictions from earlier coronavirus relief laws (as Rep. Gary Palmer suggests) so that states could redirect unused funds from those earlier laws for almost any economic-development purpose, plus direct the IRS to make some tweaks to its practices, plus provide some lawsuit protections — and then, apart from that, just block-grant a little more money to the states and let them run with it.

But this is a republic, and a liberal majority rules in the House of Representatives. Democrats on Capitol Hill were duly elected, and they won’t accept a package so small. Indeed, they wanted a relief package more than twice the size of the compromise newly offered this week….

[More importantly], the United States needs political cooperation like this right now. We are in the midst of a national health crisis. We have a president who is contesting the election he lost. We have some of the president’s most prominent backers calling for suspending the Constitution and instituting martial law. Big-city streets were roiled all year by violent protests. The public square is full of vitriol and viciousness.

This is the time, therefore, to calm the waters….

[The full column is here.]


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