(Aug. 7.) (Note: After I wrote this column below, Trump did indeed sign the executive order in question. Conservative Republican U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said Trump’s action was “unconstitutional slop,” and added: “President Obama did not have the power to unilaterally rewrite immigration law with DACA, and President Trump does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law. Under the Constitution, that power belongs to the American people acting through their members of Congress.”)

Quin’s column: President Trump’s proposed executive order delaying the collection of payroll taxes is an awful idea. It would be bad policy, and it also would be of dubious legality.

What Trump proposes isn’t a tax cut — he has no authority to do that without a law duly passed by Congress. Instead, he proposes merely postponing the collection of the tax that funds Social Security and Medicare.

This means that when the postponement period runs out, employees will still be liable for the back tax payments in addition to beginning to pay their current payroll levies (or, with what amounts to the same thing, the employer will need to withhold twice the amount until the back taxes are paid). This isn’t relief; it’s merely a false reprieve that will hit workers with a double whammy after the election. On that front alone, it’s a horrid idea.

It’s also a bad idea because on a macroeconomic level, the double whammy would arrive just when we all hope the economy, perhaps helped by a vaccine coming into early use by then, will be ready to move back into high gear after the coronavirus-induced slowdown. Few things would do more to cause a double-dip of economic doldrums than doubled payroll taxes just when a recovery is in sight.

Finally, Trump’s legal and constitutional authority to do this is dubious….

[The full column is at this link.]


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