Gun violence claimed Chicago teen Hadiya Pendletons life. Her mom is fighting back.

47 0 11 Mar 2020

Hadiya Pendleton was a 15-year-old sophomore when she got the opportunity of a lifetime: Her majorette squad from her Chicago high school, King College Prep, was selected to perform at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration festivities in 2013.

Less than three weeks later, first lady Michelle Obama would be grieving for Pendleton at her funeral. The fatal shooting of the promising honors student sparked outrage in her hometown and became the symbol of a larger conversation on the scourge of gun violence.

“She was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration,” President Obama said in his State of the Union speech that year in which he remembered Pendleton. “And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house.”

Police said Pendleton was an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire of a gang feud on the South Side — yet another shooting that exposed an underlying, daily trauma that still afflicts the city’s residents.

Seven years after her death, the teen is now the subject of the latest public service announcement from Team ROC, the philanthropic arm of Jay-Z’s entertainment company, and the NFL.

The two-minute video released Wednesday features information about Hadiya’s Promise, a Chicago nonprofit started by Pendleton’s parents that seeks to end gun violence through unity and invest in disaffected youth.

“It wasn’t just a bullet that murdered Hadiya,” her mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, says. “It was a bullet that murdered Hadiya, her mom, her dad, her brothers, her friends. We lost all her children, her children’s children. We lost generations.”

In the video, Cowley-Pendleton is surrounded by pictures of her daughter, whose name means “gift from God” in Arabic, and says young people need to be nurtured.

“If we gave the young people something to do, if we provide them with love and care, it would lift the awareness to the young that their voices matter, their lives matter,” she adds.

Hadiya Pendleton.Courtesy Pendleton Family

Pendleton’s death did not go unsolved.

In 2019, the convicted shooter, Micheail Ward of Chicago, was sentenced to 84 years in prison for murder and aggravated battery. He denied killing the teenager. A co-defendant, Kenneth Williams, who was named as the getaway driver, was also convicted for his role and awaiting sentencing.

Jay-Z and the NFL began teaming up as part of a social justice initiative announced last summer in the wake of the controversy over players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.

Another PSA through the partnership’s Responsibility Program was unveiled during this year’s Super Bowl and featured the family of Botham Jean, a black man who was killed by an off-duty police officer.

NASCAR driver Ryan Newman on surviving horrific crash: The angels aligned

45 0 11 Mar 2020

NASCAR driver Ryan Newman said “the angels aligned” to allow him to survive a horrific crash at the Daytona 500 last month.

Newman told “TODAY” on Wednesday in his first interview since the Feb. 17 wreck that safety features put in place by NASCAR helped him survive.

“I got hit from behind by a car going 190 miles per hour,” Newman, 42, said in the exclusive interview. “You look at the car afterward and you think what happened right for me to be sitting here.”

The crash occurred during the race’s final lap while Newman was in the lead. Another driver, Ryan Blaney, was trailing Newman and his bumper caught the back of Newman’s Mustang, which then slammed into a wall and flipped before it was struck by another car.

Newman was hospitalized at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida, and treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries, including a head injury. In a late-February statement, Newman said he felt “fortunate” to have avoided internal organ damage and broken bones.

NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Newman crashes during the final lap of the Daytona 500 on Monday at Daytona International Speedway in Florida.Peter Casey / USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Newman, a longtime advocate for safety in the sport, praised NASCAR’s efforts to make racing safer over the past two decades. The cage of Newman’s car was compromised during the crash but all the welds held together, he said.

“The guys in the shop did an amazing job” Newman said on “TODAY,” adding where his car was hit contributed to his survival. “Lots of things that happened that aligned,” he said.

“The angels aligned and held a really good grip,” he said.

Representatives for Newman previously said he hopes to continue racing during the 2020 season once he is medically cleared to return. Newman told “TODAY” he doesn’t know when he will be able to start racing again, but hopes to return as soon as possible.

“This is my ‘I should’ve won’ interview,” Newman said, adding that it is “a little bit painful to be out of the race car,” but ultimately he is grateful to be alive.

On Friday, Newman returned to a NASCAR track, one in Phoenix, for the first time since the crash, though only as a visitor.

Asked by Fox Sports what it felt like to be back at a track, he said, “It’s great to be alive. After looking at my car (following the crash), it’s a miracle.”

Coronavirus updates live: U.S. cases top 1,000 as spread slows in China

52 0 11 Mar 2020

German chancellor: Up to 70 percent of people will get the coronavirus

German Chancellor Angela Merkel leads the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Markus Schreiber / AP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that up to 70 percent of the population is likely to be infected with the coronavirus.

In a briefing with reporters in Berlin, Merkel said since there is currently no cure, the focus has to be on slowing the virus’ spread.

“When the virus is out there, the population has no immunity and no therapy exists, then 60 to 70 percent of the population will be infected,” she said, according to Reuters. “The process has to be focused on not overburdening the health system by slowing the virus’s spread.”

Germany has recorded 1,296 coronavirus cases so far. It confirmed its first two deaths Monday. 

It’s official: Don’t shake hands, World Health Organization says

You can greet people with a wave, a nod or a bow — just don’t make it a handshake. 

That’s the advice the World Health Organization (WHO) issued Wednesday as it reiterated that respiratory viruses like the new coronavirus can be passed by shaking hands and touching one’s eyes, nose and mouth.

While alternative greetings have been gaining popularity as the coronavirus spreads around the world, it’s the first time WHO has advised to avoid handshakes.

U.K. lawmaker and health minister tests positive for coronavirus

British lawmaker, junior health minister and former nurse Nadine Dorries has tested positive for coronavirus, she announced on Tuesday.

“It’s been pretty rubbish but I hope I’m over the worst of it now,” tweeted Dorries, a Conservative lawmaker in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government. 

“More worried about my 84yo mum who is staying with me and began with the cough today,” she added.

Dorries, who is now self-isolating, said in a statement that Public Health England has started “detailed contact tracing.”

There are currently 373 people in the U.K. diagnosed with coronavirus and six people have died.

The Times newspaper reported that Dorries met hundreds of people in Parliament in the past week and attended a reception with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. NBC News was not able to confirm this reporting. 

Manchester City, Arsenal postpone game after coronavirus contact

Two of the world’s most prominent soccer clubs have postponed their game because players on one of the teams were in contact with someone who had contracted coronavirus. 

The Wednesday game between Manchester City and Arsenal was pushed back because Arsenal players met with Evangelos Marinakis, the owner of Greek club Olympiakos Piraeus, following their meeting last month. 

Marinakis tested positive for the virus on Tuesday. 

In a statement, Arsenal said the risk to these players of developing COVID-19, the diseases the virus causes, was “extremely low,” adding that they will self-isolate in their homes for two weeks. 

It’s the first fixture in Premier League, the top-tier soccer league in England, to be affected by the virus. 

The league said it had no alternative but to postpone the game to complete a proper risk assessment.

It added that there were currently no plans to postpone other games.

Police break up crowd of University of Dayton students after housing closure news

Police at the University of Dayton in Ohio fired “pepper balls” and cleared a street early Wednesday after a disorderly crowd or around 1,000 gathered after learning that the college would be shutting down student housing over fears of the novel coronavirus.

University officials said in a statement that one person was injured by a thrown bottle. University and Dayton police moved to clear the street around 2:15 a.m.

The university’s student-run newspaper, the Flyer News, reported that the crowds gathered in reaction to news that the university housing would close Wednesday.

The university announced Tuesday that it would suspend in-person classes and ask students to return home and do online learning.  “Students will remain off campus for at least two weeks following spring break,” the university said.

“There were some social media reports and rumors that this was a protest against our coronavirus measures — those reports are inaccurate. Indications are that the students wanted one last large gathering before spring break and the size and behavior of the crowd required police to take action,” the university said in a statement to NBC News early Wednesday.

South Dakota has 5 presumptive cases, including one person who has died

Five presumptive cases of COVID-19 have been identified in South Dakota, the governor said Tuesday. That count includes one person who died, but it is unclear what killed that patient, she said.

“We have one person that has passed away that had underlying medical conditions, and we will continue to wait for a medical examination to see if the virus had anything to do with that —  although we do not have confirmation that that is the reason that the patient is deceased,” Gov. Kristi Noem said at a news conference. The person who died was a man in his 60s.

The five cases, which are not in any single community, are the first presumptive cases for South Dakota. Cases are called presumptive when local tests come back positive but when CDC testing has not yet confirmed that result.

If the death was caused by COVID-19, the death would mark the 31st in the United States, according to a count of reported cases by NBC News. The four other people with presumptive positive cases are at home and contact tracing is being done, the governor said.

22 more deaths in mainland China, bringing total to 3,158

China’s National Health Commission reported 22 new deaths, all of them in Hubei Province, bringing the total across the mainland to 3,158 as of Wednesday morning.

The coronavirus outbreak began in Hubei Province, which is where the city of Wuhan is located. There have been more than 80,700 confirmed cases reported in mainland China, according to the health commission.

There are outbreaks in other countries, with some of the highest number of cases outside mainland China being reported in South Korea, Italy and Iran. The United States has more than 1,000 confirmed or presumptive cases, according to a count of reports by NBC News. Thirty people have died in the U.S.

Person at New Orleans journalism conference tests positive

Someone who attended a journalism conference in New Orleans this month has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, organizers said Tuesday.

The attendee at the NICAR20 conference last week has mild symptoms and is expected to make a full recovery, the nonprofit organization Investigative Reporters and Editors said in a statement.

The person is self-quarantining at home for 14 days. The case is being considered a presumptive positive because it has not been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Based on the onset of the limited symptoms, they could have contracted the virus either before, during or after the conference,” IRE said. The organization said the person as well as the organization is notifying anyone who had close contact or who attended a class with that person.  

Three TSA officers at San Jose airport test positive

Three security officers at the international airport in San Jose, California, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness, the TSA said Tuesday.

“The officers are receiving medical care and all TSA employees they have come in contact with over the past 14 days are quarantined at home,” The Transportation Security Administration said in a statement to NBC Bay Area.

The officers worked at Mineta San Jose International Airport, which is in Santa Clara County.

“Screening checkpoints remain open and the agency is working with the CDC, as well as the California Department of Public Health and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department to monitor the situation as well as the health and safety of our employees and the traveling public,” the TSA said.

Santa Clara County has seen 45 positive tests, and the increase in cases that could be instances of community spread prompted health officials there to ban mass gatherings of 1,000 or more people for three weeks. One person died in Santa Clara County Monday morning, the health department said.

InfoWars host Alex Jones charged with a DWI in Texas

44 0 11 Mar 2020

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas early Tuesday.

Jones was booked at 12:37 a.m. local time, according to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. He was later released on a $3,000 recognizance bond.

Alex Jones in a sheriff’s photo.Travis County Sheriff’s Office

On his show Tuesday, Jones claimed that he was arrested after he was pulled over for going 45 mph in a 40-mph zone.

He also claimed that his breath test was under the legal limit but that his arrest was a result of recent criticism of the lack of DWI arrests in Travis County.

“It was quite the experience to see what was going on in this country and to experience it myself,” Jones said.

Jones is the personality behind InfoWars, a radio, website and internet empire that has been widely criticized for pushing conspiracy theories alongside medically dubious dietary supplements and supplies for people preparing for doomsday.

A judge ordered the host to pay $100,000 in December for promoting falsehoods that the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax. Jones was sued for defamation by the parents of a 6-year-old who was among the 26 people killed in the attack in Newtown, Connecticut.

Russia passes bill that would allow Putin to stay in power past 2024

43 0 11 Mar 2020

MOSCOW — The Russian parliament approved a sweeping constitutional reform in the third and final reading Wednesday, a move that will allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power for another 12 years after his current term ends in 2024.

The Kremlin-controlled lower house, the State Duma, endorsed a set of amendments to the constitution and a provision resetting the term count for Putin after the revised constitution goes into force by a 383-0 vote with 43 abstentions.

A nationwide vote on the proposed amendments is set for April 22.

Kremlin critics condemned the move as a cynical manipulation and called for protests.

Putin, a 67-year-old former KGB officer, has ruled Russia for more than 20 years. After serving for two consecutive four-year terms — a limit outlined in the current version of the constitution — Putin shifted to prime minister’s seat in 2008, with his close ally Dmitry Medvedev becoming a placeholder president.

The length of the presidency was extended to six years under Medvedev, and in 2012 Putin returned to the Kremlin as president. In 2018, he was re-elected for another six years.

The constitutional reform passed by the Duma on Wednesday would allow Putin to run for presidency two more times after 2024. Ahead of the national vote, it will be reviewed by Russia’s Constitutional Court.

The changes redistribute the executive powers of the Russian government in Moscow and further strengthen the power of the presidency, while also banning same-sex marriage and listing “a belief in God” as one of Russia’s traditional values.

The proposal to restart the term clock for the current president was put forward by 83-year-old former Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, now a Duma deputy, during the second reading of the amendments on Tuesday.

Following Tereshkova’s speech, Putin quickly arrived at parliament to address the lawmakers and supported the idea.

Instagram head Adam Mosseri on how Facebook protects Instagram from scrutiny

45 0 11 Mar 2020

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, says the photo- and video-sharing network has managed to avoid many of the scandals that befell Facebook because it was protected by and able to learn from its parent company.

“For lack of a more elegant phrase, Facebook as a company serves as a s— umbrella for Instagram,” Mosseri said in an interview on NBC News’ Byers Market podcast.

“We have been able to learn from some of Facebook’s mistakes,” Mosseri said. “People feel a little bit better about their time on Instagram, probably because it’s a bit more focused on things that are less contentious.”

Mosseri, who was head of Facebook’s News Feed until 2018, also said he believes Facebook’s public relations struggles are tied to its disruption of the news industry.

“Facebook is the poster child for the internet. The internet is fundamentally what disrupted the news industry’s business models,” he said. “They always say … ‘Don’t pick a fight with anybody who buys ink by the barrel.'”

Mosseri said that much of the media criticism of Facebook is warranted and that the company was “too late” to take serious responsibility for its problems. But he argued that Facebook has demonstrated unprecedented commitment to fixing its problems and that that should be recognized.

“We invest more than anybody else does in these problems,” he said. “You can disagree with specific policy decisions or enforcement decisions. But people who accuse us now of not having good intent, of not actually trying to take our responsibility seriously and not investing appropriately to fix those challenges, are just not looking at the actual facts.”

In the hourlong conversation, Mosseri also discussed his relationship with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“We can disagree passionately, but there’s a lot of mutual respect, and there’s a lot of trust,” Mosseri said.

He also touched on Instagram’s plan to get rid of like counts, as well as the platform’s competitors, including TikTok and Snapchat.

“It’s always hard to stay relevant. People move on. People get interested in the new thing,” he said. “We try to learn from competitors. You try to take your ego out of it … and try to understand the reason behind their success. What are they tapping into that is valuable and important to understand?”

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Asked to address Facebook’s longstanding tension with Snapchat, from which Facebook and Instagram copied the popular “Stories” feature, Mosseri was quick to give Snapchat all the credit.

“They invented that format. They get the credit for that format. They should get the credit for that format,” he said. “We have to be willing to acknowledge when someone did something awesome and try to learn from it.”

He also revealed that he’s never met Snap CEO Evan Spiegel: “I would love to have a cup of coffee. If he’s down, I’m down.”

And a parting word of advice: “Don’t double Insta,” Mosseri said, referring to posting twice to your Instagram feed in one day. “Can’t do that.”

“I think it’s OK, … but young people don’t think it’s OK. … It looks like you’re trying too hard.”

Biden rolls on with big win in Michigan, grows delegate lead over Sanders

47 0 11 Mar 2020

Joe Biden is extending his delegate lead over Bernie Sanders in Tuesday night’s primaries, according to NBC News projections.

The former vice president now has a 145-delegate lead over the Vermont senator after winning four of the six states that voted Tuesday, according to NBC News. Nationally, Biden has 830 delegates to Sanders’ 685, as of 1:30 am ET.

Biden appears on track to win Mississippi and Missouri by lopsided margins, which will lead to big delegate hauls since Democrats award delegates in proportion to the margin by which candidates win in each state. He won Idaho by a narrower margin, NBC News projected early Wednesday.

Biden has also won the biggest state on the map, Michigan, with 125 delegates at stake. Sanders had won the state at a crucial moment in his 2016 battle against Hillary Clinton and he staked his 2020 comeback on it.

However, the second-biggest state on the map, Washington, which has 89 delegates up for grabs, was too close to call, and North Dakota, with 14 delegates, were too early to call early Wednesday morning.

Sanders would likely need to win those states by massive margins to make up for the delegates Biden is now projected to gain.

Biden came into this round of contests with a 77-delegate lead over Sanders after his strong showing last week on Super Tuesday.

Sanders could still pick up more delegates from those Super Tuesday states, some of which are still counting ballots, since the largest caches of yet-to-be-allocated delegates are in states the Vermont senator is leading: California, which NBC News has still not called and with 63 delegates yet to be assigned, Utah, with 20 delegates, and Colorado, where 16 delegates are on the line.

And there is no obvious break in the clouds on the horizon for Sanders.

Next Tuesday will be the second-biggest day of the entire primary in terms of delegates, following only Super Tuesday, when Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Ohio vote. Biden has a wide lead in the few public polls that have been taken of those states, with a recent Florida Atlantic University poll showing Biden ahead 61 percent to 25 percent.

A week later will come Georgia, the type of Southern state with a large black population where Biden has been especially strong this year. Sanders could hope for success in Puerto Rico later that week given his strength with Latinos.

April 4th is the next best slate of states for Sanders, with contests in Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming, all of which Sanders won in 2016. But they together have roughly the same number of delegates as Louisiana, which also votes that day, where a larger African-American population gave Hillary Clinton a big win four years ago.

Young people capitalize on cheap coronavirus flights: If I die, I die

48 0 11 Mar 2020

As people around the world canceled their trips because of fears of the new coronavirus, Ashley Henkel booked three.

Henkel, 20, is taking advantage of cheap flights to see North America. She lives in California’s Central Valley, but this summer she’ll be in Vancouver, New York City and Portland, Oregon.

A college student itching to travel, she’s one of many people staring the deadly virus in the face and saying, “Whatever.”

As flight schedules are scaled down and airline stocks plunge, carriers are offering deals that have put air travel within reach for people who usually can’t fly.

It’s a high-risk, high-reward trip, people say.

“I feel like if the coronavirus would get even more serious and like wipe out a large amount of people, I might as well be somewhere having fun,” Henkel told NBC News in a message.

She had thought about going on trips this summer, but it was too expensive. Now, as people self-quarantine, she’ll be taking pictures in Times Square. There is “no fun in staying at home and being all worried,” she said.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is telling people over 60 or those with chronic illnesses to stay home, young people feel now is their time to fly. Notwithstanding the dangers of spreading the virus to more vulnerable populations, Henkel’s trips might be what the airline industry needs as it takes a hard hit from the outbreak.

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Multinational corporations like Google and Walmart are restricting “nonessential” travel, people are canceling trips and large conferences are being called off. Global air travel is projected to lose $63 billion to $113 billion because of reduced demand, according to an estimate from the International Air Transport Association, and the coronavirus is on track to slow global travel faster than the SARS and MERS outbreaks did.

United Airlines said it will lose money this quarter, and Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said the outbreak is a more serious challenge for the industry than the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Cruise lines are feeling the hit, too, reportedly discounting voyages as shares for some major lines have fallen around 50 percent since January.

But on social media, as it often goes, jokes abound about “risking it all” for a dream trip.

On Twitter, Jack Mulligan of Manchester, England, joked that coronavirus wasn’t going to stop him from traveling.

“As much of a joke my tweet may have seemed, I was being deadly serious,” Mulligan told NBC News.

Mulligan, 29, says he saved £300 to £400 on his trip in May to the Dominican Republic.

“I think the coronavirus is clearly something people need to be wary of, but I don’t plan on putting my life on hold because something is going around,” Mulligan said. He had planned to go on vacation anyway, and because cheap flights are now available, he said, booking on Tuesday made sense.

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For Capri Nicole, 27, the discount flights offered something more meaningful than a getaway: a chance to see her grandma, who is sick with cancer, next week on her 71st birthday.

Next week, Nicole will travel from Atlanta to Connecticut, and she said she saved about $200, which put once unaffordable flights within reach.

“There’s sicknesses everywhere,” Nicole said. “I could get a disease today unrelated from the virus.”

Nicole says she isn’t worried about getting sick.

“If I die, I die. I miss my family.”

Time is fast running out: World Meteorological Organization warns climate efforts are falling short

54 0 11 Mar 2020

The world is significantly falling short when it comes to efforts to curb climate change, according to a new report released Tuesday by the World Meteorological Organization.

The intergovernmental organization’s assessment evaluated a range of so-called global climate indicators in 2019, including land temperatures, ocean temperatures, greenhouse gas emissions, sea-level rise and melting ice. The report finds that most of these indicators are increasing, which means the planet is veering way off track in trying to control the pace of global warming.

“Climate change is the defining challenge of our time,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. “Time is fast running out for us to avert the worst impacts of climate disruption and protect our societies from the inevitable impacts to come.”

And there were plenty of disruptions and impacts last year. The report, which linked events such as heat waves, flooding and extreme weather to climate change, highlighted how these disruptions have affected human health and security.

Two severe heat waves in Europe last summer, for example, led to 1,462 deaths in the affected regions, according to the report. The study also estimated that 22 million people were displaced by flooding and other extreme weather events in 2019, up from 17.2 million in 2018.

The report also confirmed that 2019 was the second warmest year on record. Global average temperatures last year were 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Last year fell shy of the record held by 2016, but the report noted that 2015 to 2019 are the five warmest years in recorded history. And since the 1980s, each subsequent decade has been warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.

Meltwater forms a lake on an iceberg in the Ilulissat Icefjord on Aug. 4, 2019 near Ilulissat, Greenland.Sean Gallup / Getty Images

The meteorological organization highlighted that emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases continued to rise last year, with early projections based on the first three quarters of 2019 indicating that global carbon dioxide emissions likely increased by 0.6 percent.

“Given that greenhouse gas levels continue to increase, the warming will continue,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, said in a statement. “A recent decadal forecast indicates that a new annual global temperature record is likely in the next five years. It is a matter of time.”

The report outlined the impacts of human-caused warming on the world’s oceans, which play a crucial role in the planet’s carbon cycle by storing carbon and absorbing heat. According to the meteorological organization, oceans absorb about 90 percent of the heat trapped in the atmosphere from increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, the report found, oceans hit their warmest level in recorded history.

Warmer land and ocean temperatures also drive the melting of sea ice and glaciers, which can speed sea level rise around the globe. Both Antarctica and the Arctic recorded low sea ice extents in 2019, and sea levels continue to rise at an accelerated pace, according to the report.

“This is exposing coastal areas and islands to a greater risk of flooding and the submersion of low-lying areas,” Taalas said in the statement.

The trends highlighted in the report indicate that the world is failing to meet the goal set out by the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.

“We are currently way off track to meeting either the 1.5 degrees C or 2 degrees C targets that the Paris Agreement calls for,” Guterres said in the statement. “This report outlines the latest science and illustrates the urgency for far-reaching climate action.”

Trump proposes payroll tax cut through the end of the year

72 0 11 Mar 2020

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told lawmakers he wants a payroll tax cut that would last at least through the election to give consumer spending a jolt as the coronavirus threatens to cripple economic growth.

The president told Republicans at a closed-door lunch Tuesday that he wants the payroll tax rate to drop to zero through the end of the year, according to a White House and a Senate official.

Another White House official added that different timelines were discussed. Trump is currently backing only those that would stretch through at least November or December, with some talk of expanding the cuts beyond 2020. The official argued that anything shorter would be bad politically and make less economic sense, with the impact of the coronavirus likely to stretch through the summer.

Trump has made the growing economy, record stock market numbers and low unemployment a keystone of his re-election pitch, sometimes telling crowds that they have no choice but to vote for him or else their retirement savings will be at risk. Under the president’s timeline, he would ensure that the tax is zeroed out throughout his re-election campaign.

Trump also repeated to senators his comments from Monday expressing a desire for federal assistance to provide paid sick leave, loans for small businesses and tax relief for specific industries, according to White House aides and senators who attended the lunch.

Help for the oil industry was also discussed, senators said. The White House is considering federal assistance for the shale oil industry, which has been hit hard by the oil price collapse this week, a White House official said. But the official cautioned that the situation is still fluid and that any aid would not be on the level of an industry bailout.

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Payroll taxes, which are distinct from income taxes, are paid by both employers and employees, with workers paying 6.2 percent of their salaries up to $137,000 to fund Social Security and employers matching that amount. The cut applies only to those who get paychecks, so it would provide little relief to people who are laid off as a result of an economic downturn.

“They are talking about specific industries that would be hurt the worst and to try and get first of all this payroll tax deduction,” said Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., who, like the president, is up for re-election this year. “So I think that’s at the top of my list as having immediate impact. My view is whatever you do, you want to roll it through the end of the year.”

But Perdue admitted that the stimulus tool would not help everyone.

“If you’re not getting paid, that doesn’t help,” said Perdue, a member of the Banking and Budget committees.

The tax cuts and other forms of major economic stimulus would have to be approved by Congress to go into effect, so they would require support from Democrats. Trump’s allies in Congress have publicly been told to put politics aside and work with Democrats to pass an economic assistance package.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., met Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to discuss the outlines of a stimulus package. Asked whether any measure could pass this week before recess, Pelosi said that she “will see” and that Democrats are readying their own package.

Eamon Javers, CNBC contributed.