President Trump's chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Monday vowed the White House will do "whatever it takes" to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic and protect the U.S. economy as American life came screeching to a halt.
"We will reach for every available way to mitigate and stem both the health side and the economic side," Kudlow told FOX Business' Stuart Varney. "Absolutely."
Kudlow's comments came as global confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, neared 175,000 and deaths topped 6,500. In the U.S., there are 3,813 reported cases and 69 deaths, according to a database run by Johns Hopkins University.
Despite a drastic emergency rate cut by the Federal Reserve, an $8.3 billion aid package signed last week and efforts by the Trump administration and House Democrats to pass another stimulus bill, stocks were down sharply on Monday, raising concerns that the U.S. central bank’s most dramatic move since the 2008 financial crisis won’t be enough to quell panic as the coronavirus gains foothold in the U.S.
White House officials have signaled that they are working to bring forward a third economic relief bill aimed at helping industries hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
"We will use whatever powers there are from the federal government and the executive branch and the legislative branch," Kudlow said.
A slew of companies in the U.S. and the world take drastic measures to slow the spread of the disease, including temporarily shutting down. The country's cruise lines are suspending operations for a month, while the airline industry has suffered as planes idle on the runway due to global travel bans.
One possible option, Kudlow said, is providing a bailout to the airline industry, which has been forced to cancel thousands of flights.
"It’s absolutely a key topic of discussion here," Kudlow said. "It’ll be up to Congress as well."
Kudlow also floated the possibility of temporarily eliminating the payroll tax, an idea frequently touted by President Trump.
Currently, all employees and employers pay a 6.2 percent payroll tax on wages capped out at $137,700. Right now, an employee earning $50,000 per year would pay $3,100 in payroll taxes. That money goes toward specific programs like Social Security, health care, unemployment compensation and workers’ compensation. Workers also pay a Medicare tax of 1.45 percent.
Sources previously told Fox News there has been consideration of eliminating it for three months, through the fall, through the calendar year or permanently\.
"The payroll tax holiday is a very powerful weapon. It allows businesses and workers to keep more of what they earn," Kudlow said. "And it’ll provide a lot of cash flow to liquidity. These measures will, I think, help mitigate the economic risks and challenges in front of us."