'Somebody had to take on China': Trump

PRESIDENT Donald Trump says his administration is looking to cut US taxes on wages and on profits from selling assets such as stocks, but that he isn't talking about doing anything imminently.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday during a White House visit by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Trump said "I've been thinking about payroll taxes for a long time."

The Washington Post has reported the administration is considering a temporary payroll tax cut to boost the US economy, which has recently shown signs of slowing down in the near future.

"We're very far from a recession," Trump told reporters on Tuesday during a White House visit by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

He added that the US is doing well on the economy but "the fact is somebody had to take China on".

Trump blasted critics who said the trade war with China was going to cause pain for the US economy in the near future.

"Whether its good or bad short term is irrelevant," the president said. "I am doing this whether this is good or bad."

Trump unloaded on China, accusing the country of "ripping off" the US for more than a quarter of a century, including through intellectual property theft.

"Long term, it's imperative somebody does this," he said, slamming his predecessors in the White House as having failed to curb China's behaviour.

"My life would be a lot easier if I didn't take China on," Trump said. "My trade deals aren't causing a problem, this is something that had to be done.

He also argued for a rate cut.

"We really need a Fed rate cut," Trump said, saying there cannot be a large "disparity" between rates in the US and elsewhere in the developed world. "We have to at least keep up to an extent."

The president has long been urging the US central bank to cut rates to help bolster the economy. Many of the recent economic woes, however, stem from concerns over a US trade war with China and other powers.

Millions of US workers pay payroll taxes on their earnings to finance the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly and Social Security, which provides income payments for retirees.

Trump, though, said he believes the country is "very far from recession" and that the White House has weighed tax cuts for a while.

At the end of 2017, Trump signed a massive tax overhaul passed by the Republican-led Congress and has since promised to follow up with another round of major changes.

Still, trade tensions with China have stoked concerns that the US economy is heading for a downturn, which could dampen Trump's prospects for re-election in 2020.

Trump said he would not need the approval of congress to link the tax on profits from asset sales, known as capital gains, to inflation. According to tax code experts, investors would pay far less capital gains tax under an inflation index.

"I'm not talking about doing anything at this moment, but indexing is something that a lot of people have liked for a long time. And it's something that would be very easy to do," he said. "It is something I am certainly thinking about."


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