The federal government has several potential options for alleviating economic consequences of the novel coronavirus. President Donald Trump suggested at a press conference Monday he would soon announce relief for hourly-wage workers and possibly a payroll tax cut.
The chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says the stock market drops blamed on the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the disease the virus causes, are not reason enough for Congress to take action. Still, he says the committee is starting a conversation about what it could do in the event the economic outlook worsens.
“If it’s going to be catastrophic, then we gotta be ready,” Grassley says, "and so that’s why we’re doing that."
In addition to the president’s proposals and tax policy that could come out of the Senate, Grassley says the Federal Reserve board could lower interest rates, which they’ve already done once in response to the disease outbreak.
“There’s speculation they’ll do it a second time at their regular meeting next week,” Grassley says, adding that the House also could act. “There’s the fiscal policies that come out of the appropriations committee that you might call a stimulus package.”
There’s not enough information to say whether economic impacts would stall the China-U.S. Phase One trade deal, Grassley says, which has been billed as a huge source of recovery for struggling farmers.
As of Tuesday morning, the Iowa Department of Public Health was reporting eight presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Johnson and Pottawattamie counties and Gov. Kim Reynolds said Iowans who recently traveled on cruise ships were being tested before returning to the state, where they will be asked to self-isolate.