Associated Press, Author at Florida Politics - Page 7 of 243

Associated Press

Play on? Legislators may approve fantasy sports

Florida legislators may reach a deal this year on the murky legal status of fantasy sports in the state.

House and Senate Republicans negotiating a comprehensive gambling bill that focuses primarily on casino gambling are including in the legislation proposals regarding fantasy sports.

Senate negotiators on Thursday offered their support for a House bill that says betting on fantasy contests would be allowed as long as the sponsor of the contest is not a participant.

Florida’s attorney general back in 1991 issued an opinion that football fantasy leagues were a form of illegal gambling. But fantasy leagues have continued to flourish and expand since then, including the creation of daily fantasy leagues.

Some Republican legislators tried unsuccessfully last year to legalize fantasy contests.

The annual session ends on May 5.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

 

Senate confirms Alex Acosta as Donald Trump’s secretary of labor

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Alex Acosta as Labor secretary, filling out President Donald Trump‘s Cabinet as he approaches his 100th day in office.

The 60-38 vote confirms Acosta to the post. Once sworn as the nation’s 27th Labor secretary, the son of Cuban immigrants will lead a sprawling agency that enforces more than 180 federal laws covering about 10 million employers and 125 million workers.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., spoke for many Republicans with a statement issued just after the vote saying he hopes Acosta’s focus will be “promoting labor policies that are free of unnecessarily burdensome federal regulations.” Scott said he wants Acosta to permanently revoke rules governing financial advisers and adding Americans eligible for overtime pay.

Democrats said any Labor secretary should advocate for the American workers to whom Trump promised so much during his upstart presidential campaign. They said Acosta has given no such commitment.

“Acosta failed this basic test,” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

Acosta has been a federal prosecutor, a civil rights chief at the Justice Department and a member of the National Labor Relations Board. He will arrive at the top post with relatively little clear record on some of the top issues facing the administration over key pocketbook issues, such as whether to expand the pool of American workers eligible for overtime pay.

Acosta wasn’t Trump’s first choice for the job. Former fast food CEO Andrew Puzder withdrew his name from consideration last month, on the eve of his confirmation vote, after becoming a political headache for the new administration.

Puzder acknowledged having hired a housekeeper not authorized to work in the U.S. and paying the related taxes years later — after Trump nominated him — and came under fire from Democrats for other issues related to his company and his private life.

Acosta’s ascension would come at a key moment for Trump, just two days before he reaches the symbolic, 100-day marker. The White House has sought to cross the threshold with its own list of Trump’s accomplishments.

Trump can say the Acosta vote was bipartisan, because eight Democrats and one independent voted yes. Joining the Republicans in his favor were Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia. Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine also voted for Acosta.

Labor secretary is the last Cabinet post for Trump to fill. Trump’s choice for U.S. trade representative, a job considered Cabinet-level, is awaiting a Senate vote.

From the beginning, Acosta’s was a quiet march to confirmation that stood out because it didn’t attract the deep partisan battles faced by some of Trump’s other nominees, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Justice Neil Gorsuch‘s nomination provoked such a fight that majority Senate Republicans used the “nuclear option” to remove the 60-vote filibuster barrier for Supreme Court picks.

Thursday’s vote marks the fourth time Acosta has been confirmed for the Senate.

Democrats and most labor groups were mostly muted in their response to Acosta’s nomination. At his confirmation hearing, Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Warren hammered Acosta for answers on a selection of issues important to labor and whether Acosta would cave to political pressure from Trump. Acosta refused to answer the policy questions until he’s confirmed, and he vowed to be an independent and fair voice for workers. Both senators said they had great concerns, and both voted no.

Our standard can’t be ‘not Puzder,'” Murray said Wednesday on the Senate floor.

But tellingly, even as Acosta’s nomination wound through the Senate, Democrats and their allies also tried to move on to other, labor-related issues — namely, a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour, which Trump opposes.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department’s online landing page bears a glimpse of Acosta’s policy priorities: “Buy American, Hire American.”

That’s the title of Trump’s executive order this week directing the secretaries of labor and other agencies to issue guidance within 60 days on policies that would “ensure that, to the extent permitted by law” federal aid “maximize the use of materials produced in the United States, including manufactured products; components of manufactured products; and materials such as steel, iron, aluminum, and cement.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

House passes bill cracking down on sober homes

A crackdown on sober home corruption took a big step forward on Wednesday after House members unanimously voted to pass a bill strengthening the state’s role in prosecuting criminal and regulatory violations.

Rep. Bill Hager, a Republican from Boca Raton who is sponsoring the measure (HB 807), hopes this is the next step toward stopping problems at substance abuse treatment centers in Florida.

“Based on hearings we held, we found evidence of patient brokering, insurance fraud, human trafficking, forced labor and sex abuse,” Hager said. “Our goal is to eliminate the exploitation of those in recovery and end the cycle of recovery to relapse.”

Under the bill, sober home operators who allow fraudulent marketing for their operation or run a facility without a license would face criminal penalties punishable by up to five years in prison.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has prioritized this piece of legislation saying it will “help curb unscrupulous clinics and protect vulnerable Floridians.”

The proposed legislation would be creating a certification program for sober homes based on the recommendations of a state-funded task force that investigated issues at sober homes last year.

The House bill now heads to the Florida Senate, where a companion bill awaits.

The Florida Legislature is currently considering bills that tackle the state’s rising opioid abuse problem. One of the bills moving ahead in the process would add fentanyl and other synthetic drugs to the state’s drug trafficking offense.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Anti-Donald Trump bar earmarks its profits for progressive causes

Liberals who feel the current Republican presidential administration is driving them to drink now have the perfect place to do it.

A new bar, Coup, opened this month with protest-themed decor, a distinctly anti-President Donald Trump vibe and a promise by its owners to donate their profits to organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood.

Patrons are offered a chance to earmark where their money goes. When they buy a drink, they get a token to drop into one of a half-dozen jars, each labeled with the name of a nonprofit group. The list of recipients will rotate. Jars on tap this week included the Natural Resources Defense Council and Human Rights Watch. Tokens also are on sale for $5.

Manhattan liberals chagrined about being out of power now have a place to cry in their suds. Coup, a new bar festooned with slogans like “Protest is Patriotic,” has pledged to donate its profits to organizations like ACLU and Planned Parenthood. (April 26)

After labor costs, liquor bills and other expenses are paid, the profits are divided among the groups based on the number of tokens they receive.

The bar was the brainchild of partners Ravi DeRossi, Sother Teague and Max Green. It’s housed in a small Manhattan space where DeRossi used to have a restaurant.

The decor is modern protest. Rolls of butcher paper have been attached to the walls, inscribed with slogans like “The Pilgrims were undocumented” and “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”

DeRossi, who owns several bars, said he was depressed by the election, which sent him into a dark mood for several weeks.

“I couldn’t sit at home and sulk,” he said. “I wanted to do something more positive.”

The bar’s name, Coup, is a reference to a sudden seizure of power from the government, rather than a house for chickens. DeRossi and Teague said it was the only name they all agreed on after starting out considering slightly less aggressive monikers.

DeRossi said he wasn’t worried about backlash or bad reaction from Trump supporters.

“We’re in New York City, where 90 percent voted essentially for this bar,” he said.

All are welcome, he added.

“If people want to come in that are Trump supporters, they’re more than welcome to come in and have a drink,” he said. “They’ll be treated with respect as long as they treat us with respect, and knowing that their money is going to these specific organizations.”

Trump has promised to “make America great again.” He has pushed to deport immigrants who are in the United States illegally, saying he wants to make the country safe, and he has said he’s working to reform the tax code to lighten Americans’ financial burdens, ignite economic growth and simplify tax filing.

For people looking to make less political donations at the bar, they could drop a token in a jar for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Choosing to drink at Coup “makes you feel like you’re doing something,” said Matthew Hayes, an attorney who was there with two friends. “Instead of just getting sotted, you can also throw something to a good cause.”

He said it was also an opportunity to interact with strangers over topics like politics that people might avoid in other social settings.

“By putting yourself in a situation like this where it is a politically themed bar,” he said, “that kind of takes politics off the Don’t Talk About table.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Donald Trump tax cut: Huge, vague and likely mild boost for economy

President Donald Trump‘s team boasted Wednesday that its tax-cut plan would lighten Americans’ financial burdens, ignite economic growth and vastly simplify tax filing.

Yet the proposal so far remains short of vital details, including how it would be paid for. And based on the few specifics spelled out so far, most experts suggest that it would add little to growth while swelling the budget deficit and potentially handing large windfalls to wealthier taxpayers.

Trump’s plan would replace the current seven income tax brackets with three, and the top bracket would drop from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. It would also slash the corporate rate from 35 percent all the way to 15 percent, a boon to most companies even though many don’t pay the full tax now. With tax credits and other loopholes, most corporations pay closer to 20 percent, according to calculations by JPMorgan.

Perhaps the most contentious plank would enable taxpayers with business income — including those wealthy enough to pay the top tax rate — to instead pay the new 15 percent corporate rate. That’s because Trump would apply the corporate rate to “pass through” businesses. Pass-throughs include partnerships such as law firms and hedge funds as well as most small businesses — from the local florist to the family-owned restaurant on Main Street.

What’s more, some privately held large companies — including Trump’s own real estate empire — are structured as pass-throughs and would benefit, too.

Here’s a closer look at Trump’s proposal and its likely impact:

___

WHO BENEFITS?

It’s hard to say because the administration has released so few details. The three new income tax rates would be 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent. But Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, weren’t ready Wednesday to say at what income levels these new rates would kick in.

Tax experts said far more details were needed to determine how average Americans would be affected.

“The impact on Joe Taxpayer is unknown,” said Marc Gerson, vice chair of the tax department of law firm Miller & Chevalier in Washington. “There’s not enough specificity. It’s hard for taxpayers to determine where they’ll come out.”

Cohn asserted that the plan would cut taxes “especially for low and middle income families.” It purports to do so in part by doubling the standard deduction, which is used by taxpayers who don’t itemize their tax deductions.

At the same time, the Trump plan would eliminate the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax, thereby benefiting some of the richest taxpayers. And that’s on top of shrinking the corporate tax rate that many affluent individuals could likely capitalize on.

___

WHY CUT CORPORATE TAXES?

By making corporations more profitable, the Trump administration hopes to encourage more business spending on equipment — from computers to factories and machinery.

Doing so, in turn, could make the economy more efficient and accelerate growth and hiring. Economic growth has been stuck at about 2 percent a year since the recession ended in 2009. Mnuchin says the administration wants to accelerate it above 3 percent, a pace it hasn’t touched since 2005.

The corporate tax cuts are also intended to encourage more businesses to stay in the United States, which now has the highest corporate rate among advanced economies.

Many large corporations are enthusiastic about lower rates and say they support the elimination of loopholes, which both reduce revenue and make taxes more complicated.

___

WHO’D BENEFIT FROM THE CORPORATE RATE CUT?

Aside from most large companies, many partnerships and small businesses would benefit because they’re structured as pass-throughs, which derives from the fact that they pass on their profits to their owners.

Those owners now pay individual income tax rates, which top out at 39.6 percent. With the pass-through rate dropped to 15 percent, those taxpayers could enjoy an enormous tax cut.

The Trump team stressed the benefits that might flow to small businesses. But the richest windfalls would flow to the wealthy — lawyers, hedge fund managers, consultants and other big earners. Nearly 75 percent of pass-through income flows to the 10 percent wealthiest taxpayers, according to the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“It would tremendously help high earners,” says Brian Thompson, a certified public accountant in Chicago.

In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback eliminated state taxes on pass-throughs, which turned out to be a boon for Bill Self, the coach of the University of Kansas’ men’s basketball team. He had previously set up his own company, according to state media reports. As a result, he paid little state income tax despite earning nearly $3 million a year.

Many people, particularly wealthy Americans, could set up companies and reclassify their paychecks as “business income” and have it taxed at 15 percent, experts say. In Kansas, the number of pass-through businesses jumped to more than double the level the state expected, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. That cost the state revenue without spurring more job creation.

Mnuchin said the Treasury would issue rules to prevent wealthy people from capitalizing on the lower rate. But many experts are skeptical.

“Good luck with that,” said Mark Mazur, director of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and a former Treasury official under President Barack Obama. “The tax agencies tend to be at least a couple of steps behind the businesses.”

___

HOW ELSE WOULD BIG BUSINESSES BENEFIT?

The administration is also proposing to tax only corporate income earned in the United States. This is known as a “territorial” system. It would replace the current worldwide system, under which corporations pay tax on income earned in the U.S. and overseas.

Yet companies can avoid the tax if they keep their foreign earnings overseas. Many businesses have kept hundreds of billions of dollars outside the United States.

Mnuchin said Trump’s plan would encourage corporations to return the money to the United States and invest it in plants and equipment. Some analysts counter that corporations might instead use the money to pay dividends to shareholders.

___

WHAT ABOUT THE DEFICIT AND GROWTH?

The government’s budget deficit could explode under the plan, offsetting many of the benefits for the economy, economists say. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s rough estimate puts the loss of revenue at $5.5 trillion over 10 years.

Mnuchin argued that the tax cuts would spur faster growth, which, in turn, would produce more tax revenue. And the elimination of tax deductions and other loopholes would raise revenue as well, he contended.

But the Trump team offered few details on which deductions would be dropped — a move that would likely spark ferocious opposition from the beneficiaries of those deductions. And most economists don’t accept the notion that growth would accelerate enough to offset the lost revenue.

Alan Cole, an economist at the right-leaning Tax Foundation, calculates that the corporate tax cuts alone would reduce government revenue by $2 trillion over 10 years. That would require growth to accelerate nearly a full percentage point, to 2.8 percent a year, from its current level. Yet Cole forecasts that growth would increase only 0.4 percent annually.

Other economists say that if the cuts balloon the deficit, the resulting jump in government borrowing would swell interest rates and make it harder for businesses and households to borrow and spend.

Ethan Harris, chief global economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, says such a “crowding out” effect can cancel out any benefits to the economy.

___

SO WILL THE ECONOMY BENEFIT AT ALL?

Most economists forecast that a modest tax-cut package — smaller than Trump’s — is far more likely to become law. With the deficit rising by less, a smaller cut could raise growth to 2.5 percent a year, from its roughly 2 percent pace now, Harris said.

If Trump’s proposals became law, depending on the details, growth could accelerate more quickly, Harris added. But the Federal Reserve would likely counter such acceleration with more short-term rate hikes, to forestall rapid inflation. And that move, in turn, would likely slow the economy.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Former state lawmaker pleads guilty to tax evasion

Former Florida Rep. Erik Fresen has pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion.

Court records show Fresen pleaded guilty Wednesday to failing to file a federally required tax return. The 40-year-old Republican had represented the Miami area in the Florida House of Representatives from 2008 to 2016. He left office due to term limits.

Court records show Fresen and his wife failed to file a tax return in 2012 for more than $270,000 of total gross income the previous year. While only convicted on a single charge, Fresen acknowledged in a plea agreement that he had actually failed to report his income to the IRS from 2007 to 2016 and still owes at least $100,000 in back taxes.

Fresen faces up to a year in prison at an August sentencing.

House approves Everglades python hunting bill

The Florida House voted to enter into competitive bid contracts with private individuals who want to hunt down pythons, lionfish and other invasive species in the Everglades.

The measure (HB 587) unanimously passed by the Florida House on Wednesday would establish a pilot program, which would track data on each nonnative animal’s capture on state-managed land and water. Florida currently spends $1.2 million in several statewide efforts to boost python removals. Some of the current incentives for hunters include an $8.10 hourly pay and monthly prize winnings.

Under the bill, pet dealers would also need to tag certain invasive species before putting them up for sale.

A similar bill in the Senate has moved ahead in two committee stops.

Report: 7 Fla. public high schools among nation’s best

Seven Florida high schools are among the top 50 public high schools in the nation, according to a new ranking.

U.S. News & World Report on Tuesday placed seven schools stretching from Miami to Sarasota to Jacksonville on its list of the nation’s best public high schools.

Florida’s top-ranked public high school was Pine View School near Sarasota, which was ranked no. 13 nationwide.

It was followed by Design and Architecture Senior High School in Miami, International Studies Charter High School in Miami and International Studies Preparatory in nearby Coral Gables.

Rounding out the list were Westshore Junior/ Senior High School along the Space Coast, Stanton College Preparatory School in Jacksonville and Edgewood Junior/ Senior High School, also along the Space Coast.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Confederate flag to hang at City Hall in Florida town

A small Florida town plans to fly a Confederate flag at City Hall this week for Confederate History Day.

Town officials in Belleview, Florida, say they’ve heard no complaints from residents who find the flag objectionable. The flag will be raised to half-staff Wednesday as part of a ceremony by a local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Belleview, a town of about 5,000 residents, is located about 70 miles northwest of Orlando.

Belleview Mayor Christine Dobkowski told the Ocala Star-Banner that Confederate History Day is historically important to the town.

The Confederate flag is offensive to many African-Americans, and its hanging at government buildings has been the subject of intense debate.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Donald Trump’s 100-days promises: Fewer than half carried out

Sure enough, the big trans-Pacific trade deal is toast, climate change action is on the ropes and various regulations from the Obama era have been scrapped. It’s also a safe bet President Donald Trump hasn’t raced a bicycle since Jan. 20, keeping that vow.

Add a Supreme Court justice — no small feat — and call these promises kept.

But where’s that wall? Or the promised trade punishment against China — will the Chinese get off scot-free from “the greatest theft in the history of the world”? What about that “easy” replacement for Obamacare? How about the trillion-dollar infrastructure plan and huge tax cut that were supposed to be in motion by now?

Trump’s road to the White House, paved in big, sometimes impossible pledges, has detoured onto a byway of promises deferred or left behind, an AP analysis found.

Of 38 specific promises Trump made in his 100-day “contract” with voters — “This is my pledge to you” — he’s accomplished 10, mostly through executive orders that don’t require legislation, such as withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

He’s abandoned several and failed to deliver quickly on others, stymied at times by a divided Republican Party and resistant federal judges. Of 10 promises that require Congress to act, none has been achieved and most have not been introduced.

“I’ve done more than any other president in the first 100 days,” the president bragged in a recent interview with AP, even as he criticized the marker as an “artificial barrier.”

In truth, his 100-day plan remains mostly a to-do list that will spill over well beyond Saturday, his 100th day.

Some of Trump’s promises were obviously hyperbole to begin with. Don’t hold your breath waiting for alleged Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl to be dropped out of an airplane without a parachute, as Trump vowed he’d do at many of his campaign rallies. China’s leader got a fancy dinner, complete with “beautiful” chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago this month, not the promised “McDonald’s hamburger” and humble pie.

But many promises were meant to be taken seriously. Trump clearly owes his supporters a Mexico border wall, even if it doesn’t end up being a foot taller than the Great Wall of China.

One page of his 100-day manifesto is devoted to legislation he would fight to pass in 100 days. None of it has been achieved.

The other page lists 18 executive actions and intentions he promised to pursue — many on Day One. He has followed through on fewer than a dozen, largely through the use of executive orders, and the White House is boasting that he will set a post-World War II record when he signs more this week.

That’s a change in tune.

“We need people in Washington that don’t go around signing executive orders because they can’t get people into a room and get some kind of a deal that’s negotiated,” he declared in New Hampshire in March 2015. “We need people that know how to lead, and we don’t have that. We have amateurs.”

Efforts to provide affordable child care and paid maternity leave, to make college more affordable and to invest in urban areas have been all but forgotten. That’s despite the advantage of a Republican-controlled Congress, which the White House failed to pull together behind Trump’s first attempt to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”

An AP reporter who followed Trump throughout the presidential campaign collected scores of promises he made along the way, from the consequential to the fanciful. Here are some of them, and his progress so far:

___

ENERGY and the ENVIRONMENT:

— Lift President Barack Obama‘s roadblocks on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

Done. Keystone XL is revived and construction of the Dakota Access is completed.

— Lift restrictions on mining coal and drilling for oil and natural gas.

Done. Trump has unraveled a number of Obama-era restrictions and initiated a review of the Clean Power Plan, which aimed to restrict greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants.

— Cancel payments to U.N. climate change programs and pull out of the Paris climate accord

Nope. Trump has yet to make a decision on Paris. His aides are torn.

___

ECONOMY and TRADE:

— Pass a tax overhaul. “Just think about what can be accomplished in the first 100 days of a Trump administration,” he told his supporters again and again in the final weeks of the campaign. “We are going to have the biggest tax cut since Ronald Reagan.” He promised a plan that would reduce rates dramatically both for corporations and the middle class.

Nowhere close. Trump has scrapped the tax plan he campaigned on, and his administration’s new package is in its early stages, not only missing the first 100 days but likely to miss a new August deadline set by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Some details may emerge this week.

—Designate China a currency manipulator, setting the stage for possible trade penalties because “we’re like the piggy bank that’s being robbed. We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing.”

Abandoned. Trump says he doesn’t want to punish China when it is cooperating in a response to North Korean provocations. He also says China has stopped manipulating its currency for unfair trade advantage. But China was moving away from that behavior well before he took office. Also set aside: repeated vows to slap high tariffs on Chinese imports.

—Announce his intention to renegotiate or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Backtracked, in essence. A draft of his administration’s plan for NAFTA proposes only a mild rewrite. But in his AP interview, he threatened anew to terminate the deal if his goals are not met in a renegotiation.

— Direct his commerce secretary and trade representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly hurt American workers.

Done. Trump has initiated plenty of studies over the past 100 days.

— Slap a 35 percent tariff on goods from companies that ship production abroad. Force companies like Apple and Nabisco to make their products in the U.S.

Nope.

—Embark on a massive $1 trillion effort to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, including airports, roads and bridges.

Not yet.

__

SECURITY, DEFENSE and IMMIGRATION:

— Immediately suspend the Syrian refugee program.

Trump tried, but the first version of his travel ban was blocked by the courts. A revised version dropped references to Syrian refugees entirely. That was blocked, too. And he has yet to mention another campaign pledge: to deport Syrian refugees already settled in the U.S.

— Inform his generals they have 30 days to submit a new plan for defeating the Islamic State group.

Trump did indeed order up a plan. It’s unclear what it is since it has yet to be made public.

— Suspend immigration from “terror-prone regions” where he says vetting is too difficult.

Trump’s effort to bar immigration temporarily from some Muslim-majority countries has been stymied by courts.

— Implement “extreme” immigration vetting techniques.

In progress. The Homeland Security Department is considering a number of measures, like asking for visitors’ phone contacts and social media passwords.

—Build an “impenetrable physical wall” along the length of the southern border, and make Mexico pay for it.

The government has been soliciting bids and test sections could be built as soon as this summer. Mexico is not paying for this work.

—End federal funding to “sanctuary cities” — places where local officials are considered by Washington to be insufficiently cooperative in arresting or detaining people in the country illegally.

The Justice Department has threatened to do so, but there are legal limits.

— Immediately deport the estimated 2 million “criminal aliens” living in the country, including gang members, in joint operations with local, state and federal law enforcement.

Deportations have not increased. Arrests of people in the U.S. illegally are up and illegal border crossings are significantly down.

—Cancel visas for foreign countries that won’t take back criminals deported by the U.S.

There’s been no discussion of this yet.

—”Immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties,” one of which allows young people brought into the country as children to stay and work.

Trump has made no effort to end the program, even though it would take a single phone call. In fact, he told AP these young people can “rest easy” and not fear deportation.

___

GOVERNMENT and the SWAMP:

— Ask agency and department heads to identify job-killing regulations for elimination.

Done.

— Propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress.

Nope.

— “Drain the swamp.”

On his pledge to curb the power of special interests, Trump has so far used an executive order to prohibit political appointees from lobbying the government for five years after serving in his administration and to ban outgoing officials from representing foreign governments. But he’s discontinuing the Obama-era practice of releasing White House visitor logs, restoring a shroud over what special interests are getting in his gates. He’s also issued at least one waiver to his lobbying ban, allowing a White House budget adviser to go advocate for a business trade group

— Impose a hiring freeze on federal employees, excluding military and public safety staffers.

This was one of Trump’s first actions. But the freeze has since been lifted.

—Require that two regulations be eliminated for each new one imposed.

Trump signed an order requiring agencies to identify two existing regulations for every new one imposed — though there is nothing in the order that requires the two to be eliminated.

___

FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

— End the strategy of nation-building and regime change.

Trump’s foreign policy posture is still in its early stages, though he has already intervened in Syria and has escalated rhetoric against North Korea.

— Move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

The administration says it is studying the issue.

— Negotiate the release of all U.S. prisoners held in Iran, even before taking office. Renegotiate or leave the Iran nuclear deal.

No prisoners have been released. The administration is studying the nuclear deal and Trump told AP “it’s possible” the U.S. will withdraw.

— Create a safe zone in Syria for refugees, paid for by the Gulf states.

Not yet.

___

HEALTH CARE, COURTS and GUNS:

—”My first day in office, I’m going to ask Congress to put a bill on my desk getting rid of this disastrous law and replacing it with reforms that expand choice, freedom, affordability. You’re going to have such great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost. It’s going to be so easy.”

The bill to replace “Obamacare” was pulled from Congress because it lacked enough support. He will try again with a revised plan.

— Begin selecting a new Supreme Court judge to fill the court’s vacancy.

Done. Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch and the Senate approved him.

— Eliminate gun-free zones in schools and on military bases.

Nope.

___

REALLY?

— “I promise I will never be in a bicycle race.”

So far, so good. Trump’s vow came after John Kerry, then secretary of state, broke his femur in May 2015 while riding a bicycle. He was not in a bicycle race.

—Bar his generals from being interviewed on television.

Never mind that. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, as Trump’s national security adviser, recently appeared on a Sunday news show. Several senior military officers have done Pentagon news conferences in the past few months that are taped by the networks. Gen. John Nicholson, the top general in Afghanistan, appeared at a news conference Monday.

—No time for play.

Most weekends as president, Trump has broken his pledge to avoid the golf course, after years of criticizing his predecessor for playing the game. “Because I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” he told a Virginia rally in August. “Believe me.”

—Season’s greetings.

“If I become president, we’re gonna be saying Merry Christmas at every store. … You can leave ‘happy holidays’ at the corner.”

As president-elect over the holidays, he sent a “Merry Christmas” tweet. So did President Obama. And both sent Happy Hanukkah wishes.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons