U.S. President Donald Trump at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, October 2020
Doug Mills / The New York Times

The COVID-19 pandemic sent U.S. policymakers scurrying to their bookshelves, searching for responses to a public health catastrophe that threatened to plunge households, businesses, and governments into financial despair. Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the White House flipped frantically through their dog-eared playbooks from the 1980s to determine just the right tax cut for the moment. But the chapter on society-wide lockdowns was nowhere to be found.

Many Republicans shrugged and proposed a tax cut anyway. President Donald Trump called for reducing the capital gains rate and joined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in pushing for an expansion

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