Updated Aug 21, 2019

Trump backtracks on payroll tax cut

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump abandoned his stance on considering a payroll tax cut Wednesday, just 1 day after telling reporters that he had been "thinking about" whether to pursue the move.

The big picture: Discussions over cutting the payroll tax, which currently sits at 6.2% and is used to fund Social Security and Medicare, are part of a broader White House effort to stem fears of a coming recession — though Trump insisted to reporters that "whether or not we do it now, it's not being done because of recession." Sources tell Axios' Jonathan Swan that Trump is "running out of tools" to juice the economy, with an economic slowdown looking increasingly likely ahead of the 2020 election.

Context:

  • On Monday, Trump tweeted that the Federal Reserve should cut interest rates by "at least 100 basis points" — a drastic measure that the Fed normally uses to stimulate the economy in a recession.
  • The inversion of the yield curve, a warning sign that has preceded every recession for the past 70 years, caused a major sell-off in the stock market last week. The market has since recovered completely, but prolonged trade tensions between the U.S. and China have caused many investors to remain skittish.
  • The White House previously denied an Aug. 19 Washington Post report that cutting payroll taxes was under consideration, before Trump stated in an Oval Office pool spray that he was, in fact, "thinking about it."

Go deeper: Trump economic advisers look to do damage control amid fears of recession

Go deeper

Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,724.516 — Total deaths: 394,018 — Total recoveries — 2,996,832Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,894,753 — Total deaths: 109,042 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. Sports: How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
  6. Media: The Athletic lays off 8% of staff, implements company-wide pay cut.

Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.