Washington - With the Republican majority in the Senate, U.S. President Donald Trump pushed yesterday for measures to boost the economy - such as a reduction in the Social Security payroll deduction - amid the crisis generated by the coronavirus epidemic.
Trump has stressed his support for incentives for airlines, cargo and cruise ships.
He is also interested in promoting federal assistance for oil and natural gas producers because of falling fuel prices.
"The payroll tax holiday is probably the most important powerful piece of this" and it would last until December, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said at a White House briefing after Trump's meeting with Republican senators.
Both Kudlow and Vice President Michael Pence said the legislative package considered by the White House is being discussed with both the Republicans, who control the Senate, and Democrats, who control the House.
Under the administration of President Barack Obama, Congress approved a reduction of 2 percent - from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent - for Social Security, which meant between 2011 and 2012, on average, more than $500 annually to residents of Puerto Rico.
Given the lack of labor rights in the United States, Democrats advocate for measures that help workers, such as paid leave for those who get the virus and unemployment insurance.
At the White House briefing, Vice President Pence said they also support ensuring sick leave to contain the spread of the virus.
According to several sources, a further reduction in the payroll tax - which comes amid the election year as a relief for the working class - is not perceived at this time in Congress as an urgent response.
"At this point, I’m not ruling anything out.Obviously, whatever we do, there has to be a really good rationale for it," said the number two Republican majority leader in the Senate, John Thune (Washington).
The House Democratic majority is drafting a bill that it will be able to consider in two weeks, as it is scheduled to recess next week.
Contrary to the proposals President Trump has introduced, Democrats say that it is urgent to fill the gaps in the health care system and workers' benefits.
That's why, they said, they pushed for the $8.3 billion appropriation that was approved and signed into law by President Trump to finance the costs of preventing and controlling the coronavirus.
Now, they said, what is needed is to secure paid sick leave and unemployment insurance for workers.
In an interview with CNN, Democratic Congressman John Garamendi (Calif.) said his caucus is not looking for a financial bailout for Wall Street.
"The administration seems to believe that the answer to any problem is another tax cut, and no matter what they say about it, when they put it together it always seems to benefit the wealthy and the big and powerful corporations," said Senate Democratic Minority Leader Charles Schumer (New York).
Trump indicated that Congress should act this week but considered that the coronavirus - which has affected the stock market - surprises the economy at a good time.
"The consumer has never been in a better position than they are right now," said Trump, who was accompanied in his meeting with Republican senators by Vice President Pence and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
As of yesterday, there were more than 600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, including 29 deaths.
This Week, in an op-ed by the New York Post, Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and sectors of the private industry on the island spurred the idea of Congress evaluating that at a time when the coronavirus crisis deepens the U.S. pharmaceutical industry dependence pharmaceutical on the Chinese market, manufacturing production in Puerto Rico should be "restored."
The conservative New York Post advocated on Sunday for restoring federal tax incentives for pharmaceutical companies in Puerto Rico, whose economy has faced a recession, a fiscal and debt crisis, and natural disasters.
Economist Joaquin Villamil, president of Estudios Técnicos, said that since the elimination of Section 936 of the federal Internal Revenue Code began, manufacturing employment reduced from 165,000 in 1996 to 70,000 positions.
In the case of pharmaceutical companies, employment dropped from 26,000 to 17,000.
Congress Democrats and Republicans, however, have been reluctant to bring back a tax privilege such as Section 936, which generated huge profits for manufacturing companies.
Still, industry sectors think they have an opportunity amid the coronavirus crisis to bring their ideas to Congress.
"U.S. manufacturing, like elections equipment production, should be considered a critical infrastructure asset," Rodrigo Masses, president of the Private Alliance for Economic Growth, said Monday.
Despite requests from El Nuevo Día, neither Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced nor Washington D.C. Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González could react to the proposal made in the New York Post op-ed, which Senator Kaine supported.
At the White House briefing on the coronavirus initiatives, Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said, however, that President Trump still wants to promote a second round of tax cuts before the election.