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U.S. Chamber calls for payroll tax cut, loans to address virus

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called Monday for a three-month cancellation of all payroll taxes paid by employers to address “a sudden and sharp drop in demand” facing businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The powerful lobbying group included the recommendation, which faces bipartisan skepticism, among three policy proposals it said the U.S. should enact in addition to an economic relief package the House passed last week.

The chamber called for the payroll tax to be canceled from March to May. President Donald Trump also has called for a payroll tax cut.

The chamber also pushed for the expansion and streamlining of loan programs for small businesses, including removing requirements that small firms show they couldn’t access credit before seeking relief from the Small Business Administration. It also suggested creating credit facilities to provide loans and loan guarantees to companies with over 500 employees if they’ve suffered “significant revenue loss” due to the virus.

All three proposals would require legislation, the group said.

The proposals signaled a shift in the group’s approach to the virus. Earlier in the month, the chamber’s chief executive officer, Tom Donohue, urged consumers to continue shopping and traveling and said, “Now is not the time to overreact or panic.”

Bloomberg News