Donald Trump Archives - Page 4 of 264 - Florida Politics

Carlos Frontela chastened by 2016 mistakes, is fired up for House District 62 bid

In declaring his candidacy early for the Tampa-based House District 62 seat, Carlos Frontela already demonstrates he’s learned from rookie mistakes made last year in his bid for the Hillsborough County School Board.

“I jumped in really late, two months before the primary,” he says, reminiscing about his ill-fated run for the District 7 seat ultimately captured by Lynn Gray last November.

“No time to really organize, no time to really gain any campaign contributions,” he says which is why he’s working on qualifying by petition to get on the ballot next year in the seat that will be vacated by a term-limited Janet Cruz.

The 42-year-old Frontela was born in Cuba and grew up in New Jersey before moving to Tampa in 2004. He owns his own small business, a document preparation service based in an office located near Raymond James Stadium in West Tampa.

“I think the Legislature could use somebody like me with business experience,” he said Tuesday. “I’m not necessarily a career politician. I can bring some sense of normalcy where I can reach across the aisle and do things a bipartisan process.”

Frontela looks forward to campaigning next year in earnest, acknowledging that with a full-time business and five children, it won’t be easy.

Frontela often speaks about working to find common ground with Republicans in Tallahassee to pass bills helping his constituents.

“That’s very important,” he says. “If you’re going to just go up there and play partisan politics, it’s not going to work.”

The subject prompts a riff on what Frontela calls a mistake by Senate Democrats in Washington opposing Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump‘s first nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. Gorsuch was sworn onto the court Monday.

“Neil Gorsuch was confirmed unanimously via voice vote to the 10th Judicial Circuit (of Appeals),” he recounts about that 2006 vote in which Chuck Schumer, Diane Feinstein and other Senate Democrats — those who opposed him last week — supported him 11 years beforehand.

“People can see clearly that was a show. It was partisan politics,” he says, criticizing his own party. The Democratic wall of opposition in the Senate led Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to break out the “nuclear option,” allowing just a bare minimum approval of 51 senators to confirm Gorsuch, versus the filibuster-proof 60 votes previously required to confirm Supreme Court no.

“Next time when a real, right-leaning conservative judge gets appointed, you’d have faith with the general public,” he says. “Now you don’t. You got the nuclear option. God knows a way right-wing justice will get through (next time) with just 51 votes.”

Regarding the battle between Republican Richard Corcoran and Rick Scott over Enterprise Florida, Frontela takes Scott’s side in believing tax incentives help businesses and communities.

He not only supports medical marijuana (though not the way the GOP-led Legislature is debating how to implement the matter) but the legalization of recreational marijuana as well. “We have two other drugs on the market that are completely legal and completely taxes, and they kill countless individuals every year,” says Frontela. “And those are alcohol and tobacco.”

“We have two other drugs on the market that are completely legal and completely taxes, and they kill countless individuals every year,” says Frontela. “And those are alcohol and tobacco.”

He considers raising the state’s minimum wage to at least $10 an hour his top issue, as well as restoring the civil and voting rights of ex-felons.

About last year’s presidential contest, Frontela is of the opinion that the Democratic National Committee “rigged” the primary fight between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in Clinton’s favor.

“That turned off a lot of people,” he says of fellow Democrats, “and a lot of people didn’t turn out.”

Frontera had a lifelong interest in politics, going back to when he was 13 and volunteered for the campaign of New Jersey Democratic Albio Sires, who in 1986 was running for Congress for the first time.

As a Cuban-American, Frontela supports the diplomatic breakthrough with the communist island led by Barack Obama in 2014.

Learn more about Frontela’s platform by going to his website: CharlieFor62.com.

County considers special tax for Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago visits

Commissioners in a Florida county are so tired of spending money on President Donald Trump‘s frequent visits to his Mar-a-Lago resort that some are suggesting a special tax be levied against the property if the federal government doesn’t reimburse its costs.

Palm Beach County spends more than $60,000 a day when the president visits, mostly for law enforcement overtime — almost $2 million since January. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw says the county was expected to spend $250,000 during Trump’s recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the president’s sixth trip to his Winter White House in the 12 weeks since his inauguration.

County Commissioner Dave Kerner has suggested turning Mar-a-Lago into a special taxing district and imposing a levy on the resort to pay the president’s security costs. Because Mar-a-Lago is incorporated as a club, it pays lower property taxes than hotels. It also gets a tax break because Trump surrendered development rights after he purchased the property from the estate of cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post for $10 million in 1985.

The 500 members pay $14,000 annually in dues. The initiation fee was recently doubled to $200,000. Forbes Magazine estimates the club is now worth $150 million.

“We’re very honored to have the president here, but at the same time, his travel here is such high frequency he’s not visiting Palm Beach County – he’s governing from it,” Kerner told Money magazine recently. “Whatever our priorities are, the taxpayers didn’t pay this money to us to protect the president.”

Kerner did not return numerous calls from The Associated Press to his office.

The sheriff believes the federal government will eventually reimburse the county, but can’t be certain.

“I had a personal conversation with the president in February and he understands,” Bradshaw said. “There is a system in place and, unfortunately, that involves Congress … and that is not an easy thing to navigate through. I am sure they will get around to it.”

Local governments aren’t the only ones complaining. No solution has been found for the 28 business owners at Lantana Airport, a small field for propeller planes about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from Mar-a-Lago. The Secret Service shutters it every time Trump visits Mar-a-Lago because agents believe the 350 flights it handles daily pose a security risk.

Marian Smith, who owns a flight school, says she has lost almost $100,000 because of the closures. A banner-towing company that operates from the airport says it has lost over $40,000 in contracts.

Jonathan Miller, the contractor who operates the county-owned airport, said this week that he believes a compromise will be worked out with the Secret Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies that would allow the airport to operate with restrictions during presidential visits.

“The FAA has a strong incentive to work with us and help get some funding that will put a system in place that will appease the Secret Service,” Miller said.

The cost of Trump’s visits divides local residents, with the schism often falling along political lines. Trump’s supporters say any money spent by the county is recouped through added visitors lured by the frequent exposure and his visits show he cares about the area.

“The fact that he comes down here, the fact he is involved in the community to this extent even though he is the president, I think that’s great,” said Julian Detwiler, who operates produce stands at local farmers markets. “There are costs associated with everything. It doesn’t cost the country or the community more for him to (visit) than lots of other things we do. It keeps the economy going.”

The president’s critics say the visits illustrate his hypocrisy as he frequently slammed President Barack Obama‘s trips, even though they were less frequent and didn’t burden any single community.

“Trump is costing this area so much money, a hell of a lot of money, and he doesn’t seem to give a damn,” said Bob Brink, a novelist and retired local journalist.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Chinese composer Du Yun stunned by Pulitzer win

The Latest on the Pulitzer Prizes in journalism and the arts (all times local):

6 p.m.

When Chinese composer Du Yun heard she won the Pulitzer Prize for music, she thought it was a prank.

Yun had just returned from a day of panels at The Culture Summit in Abu Dhabi, and her librettist texted her the good news, which arrived close to midnight for Yun.

Thirty-nine-year-old Yun won the prize Monday for “Angel’s Bone,” about a financially struggling couple who set out to nurse two battered angels, but instead kept the angels captive and exploited them for wealth and personal gains.

The Pulitzer board called the operatic work “bold” and said it “integrates vocal and instrumental elements and a wide range of styles into a harrowing allegory for human trafficking in the modern world.”

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5:05 p.m.

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post says getting a call from President Donald Trump was “an emotional high point” in his reporting.

As for winning the prize, he said it’s “pretty overwhelming.”

Fahrenthold won the Pulitzer for national reporting for a series of stories exposing issues with Trump’s claimed charity giving and a story about a videotape where Trump made crude comments about women.

His path to Pulitzer victory involved trying to find veterans groups who had gotten $1 million Trump had promised of his own money. Fahrenthold used Twitter to publicize his efforts, tagging Trump’s Twitter account in his posts so Trump could see what he was doing.

Ultimately, Trump called to tell him that he was giving away $1 million to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, a charity run by a friend.

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4:15 p.m.

A 3,000-circulation newspaper that publishes twice a week has won the Pulitzer Prize for taking on powerful agricultural organizations after a water utility sued the paper’s home county and two others over farm pollution.

The Storm Lake Times of Iowa and writer Art Cullen won for a series of editorials that challenged powerful agricultural interests in the state. Judges said Cullen’s editorials were fueled by “tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing.”

Cullen owns the newspaper with his brother and says his editorials were about government transparency.

The counties sued by the Des Moines Water Works secretly received money from agriculture groups to fight the lawsuit, and the newspaper pushed in its reporting to lift the veil of secrecy on who was paying to fight the lawsuit.

Cullen says he feels vindicated that the information was released.

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4 p.m.

The New York Times has won three Pulitzer Prizes, for international reporting, breaking news photography and feature writing.

The awards were announced at Columbia University on Monday, several hours after the Times appeared to signal their wins by publishing an announcement promoting a Facebook Live event with its Pulitzer Prize winners. A Times spokeswoman called the notice “a mistake, combined with a little bit of hopeful thinking.”

The Times staff won the international reporting award for a series of reports on Vladimir Putin‘s efforts to project Russia’s power abroad. Daniel Berehulak won for photographs that documented a violent campaign in the Philippines. And C.J. Chivers won in the feature category for a magazine piece on a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

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3:50 p.m.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for exposing the unchecked flow of opioids into depressed West Virginia counties.

Gazette-Mail reporter Eric Eyre documented how drug wholesalers flooded the state with 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills over six years at a time when 1,728 West Virginians fatally overdosed on those two painkillers.

The winners were announced Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City.

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3:45 p.m.

Colson Whitehead has won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his novel “The Underground Railroad,” which combined flights of imagination with the grimmest and most realistic detail of 19th-century slavery.

No work of fiction was more honored in 2016. Whitehead’s novel, which told of a runaway slave and a very real train to freedom, was given rave advance reviews and upon publication immediately jumped to the top of best-seller lists when Oprah Winfrey chose it for her book club. Last November, it won the National Book Award.

Whitehead told The Associated Press on Monday: “I think the book deals with white supremacy as a foundational error in the country’s history and that foundational error is being played out now in the White House.”

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3:40 p.m.

“Olio” by Tyehimba Jess has won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

The Pulitzer board said Monday that the work melds performance art with poetry “to explore collective memory and challenge contemporary notions of race and identity.”

Finalists in the category were “Collected Poems: 1950-2012” by the late Adrienne Rich and “XX” by Campbell McGrath.

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3:38 p.m.

The East Bay Times in Oakland, California, has won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting for coverage of a warehouse fire that killed 36 people.

Judges said the staff of the newspaper received the award for relentless coverage of the Ghost Ship fire in December and for reporting after the tragedy that exposed the city’s failure to take actions that might have prevented it.

The winners were announced Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City.

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3:35 p.m.

Matthew Desmond’s “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” has won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.

Set in Milwaukee, Desmond’s book was among a wave of works that explored poverty, race and the class divide, themes that had special resonance as Republican Donald Trump campaigned on restoring the American Dream for “forgotten” Americans. Last month, Desmond won a National Book Critics Circle award.

The finalists for the nonfiction Pulitzer were “In a Different Key: The Story of Autism,” by John Donvan and Caren Zucker; and Micki McElya‘s “The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery.”

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3:32 p.m.

David A. Fahrenthold of The Washington Post has won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for campaign reporting that cast doubt on Donald Trump’s assertions of generosity toward charities.

The award was announced Monday at Columbia University in New York City.

Among Fahrenthold’s findings was that Trump spent $20,000 that belonged to his charity on a 6-foot-tall portrait of himself.

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3:30 p.m.

“The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between” by Hisham Matar has won the Pulitzer Prize for autobiography.

The Pulitzer Prize board said Monday that Matar’s memoir about his native Libya “examines with controlled emotion the past and present of an embattled region.”

Finalists in the combined category of autobiography and biography included “In the Darkroom” by Susan Faludi and “When Breath Becomes Air” by the late Paul Kalanithi.

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3:25 p.m.

“Angel’s Bone” by Du Yun has won the Pulitzer Prize for music.

The Pulitzer Prize board on Monday called the operatic work “bold” and said it “integrates vocal and instrumental elements and a wide range of styles into a harrowing allegory for human trafficking in the modern world.”

Finalists in the category were “Bound to the Bow” by Ashley Fure and “Ipsa Dixit” by Kate Soper.

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3:20 p.m.

The gripping “Blood in the Water: The Attica Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy” by Heather Ann Thompson has won the Pulitzer Prize for history.

The book examines the events that unfolded starting in Sept. 9, 1971, when nearly 1,300 prisoners took over the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York to protest years of mistreatment. The work reveals the crimes committed during the uprising and its aftermath, who committed them and how they were covered up.

Last year’s history prize was won by “Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America” by T.J. Stiles. Other past winners include Charles Warren, Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Dean Acheson and Richard Hofstadter.

The award is for “a distinguished and appropriately documented book on the history of the United States.” It includes a $15,000 prize.

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This story has been corrected to show that the prize is now $15,000, not $10,000.

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3:15 p.m.

The New York Daily News and ProPublica have won the Pulitzer Prize for public service for a series on how officials are using a nuisance abatement law to evict people from their homes, even if they haven’t committed a crime.

The award was announced Monday at Columbia University in New York City.

The reporting came from the review of 516 residential nuisance abatement actions from Jan. 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014. It found 173 of the people who gave up their leases or were banned from homes were not convicted of a crime, including 44 people who appear to have faced no criminal prosecution whatsoever.

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3:10 p.m.

“Sweat” by Lynn Nottage, which explores working-class resentment, has won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for drama.

The play that explores how the shutdown of a Pennsylvania factory leads to the breakdown of friendship and family and a devastating cycle of violence, prejudice, poverty and drugs.

The play marks Nottage’s Broadway debut. She is the writer of “Intimate Apparel,” ”By The Way, Meet Vera Stark” and “Ruined,” which also won the Pulitzer Prize.

The drama award, which includes a $15,000 prize, is “for a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life.”

Previous playwrights honored include August Wilson, Edward Albee, Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. Recent winners include Annie Baker‘s “The Flick,” Ayad Akhtar‘s “Disgraced,” Stephen Adly Guirgis‘s “Between Riverside and Crazy,” and Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s “Hamilton.”

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This story has been corrected to show that the prize is now $15,000, not $10,000.

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1:45 p.m.

The New York Times says it mistakenly published an announcement promoting a Facebook Live event with its Pulitzer Prize winners, hours before the winners were announced.

Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy wouldn’t confirm it had advance word that it had won any Pulitzers. She says the notice was “a mistake, combined with a little bit of hopeful thinking.”

Published on Page 2 of Monday’s print edition of The Times, it read: “How does it feel to get a Pulitzer Prize? Ask The Times’s recently announced 2017 winners yourself — they’ll be taking questions live today at 4:30 p.m. E.T.”

Although the prizes are confidential, news organizations sometimes manage to learn of Pulitzer wins before the official announcements. The winners of the 2017 Pulitzers were to be revealed at 3 p.m. Monday.

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9:20 a.m.

The winners of the Pulitzer Prizes in journalism and the arts are set to be announced in New York City.

This is the contest’s 101st year. The winners are being revealed Monday afternoon at Columbia University.

The Pulitzer Prizes will recognize the best journalism of 2016 in newspapers, magazines and websites. There are 14 categories for reporting, photography, criticism and commentary.

In the arts, prizes are awarded in seven categories, including fiction, drama and music.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Marco Rubio to headline Pinellas GOP Lincoln Day Dinner on May 19

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will be the featured speaker next month at the Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee’s 2017 Lincoln Day Dinner, one of the region’s premier political events.

The Miami Republican will keynote the event on Friday, May 19, at the Hilton Carillon Hotel in St. Petersburg’s Gateway community.

The annual event not only celebrates recent local GOP victories but has grown to become one of the key fundraising events to support future races.

Lincoln Day dinners are annual GOP celebrations held nationwide by various Republican Party organizations. After Ronald Reagan’s death in 2004, Lincoln Day festivities evolved into a celebration of the former president’s life and achievements, as well as an occasion to honor the party’s conservative successes over the past year.

Certain for inclusion in the celebration is the recent confirmation of Neil Gorsuch as Donald Trump’s first choice for the U.S. Supreme Court.

As Pinellas GOP Chair Nick DeCleglie said in a April 7 Facebook post: “With the help of a Republican-controlled Senate, whose members stood up to the Democrats’ partisan filibuster, Donald Trump will successfully follow through on what I consider to be his most important campaign promise – to appoint conservative jurists to the Supreme Court. Judge Neil Gorsuch is a jurist who will hold true to the Constitution, much like his predecessor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia. I am proud of our Republican Senators who used the precedent set by Harry Reid and the Democrats in 2013 to end debate and confirm this qualified member of the legal community.

“It is a great day for the rule of law in the greatest country the world has ever known,” DiCeglie added. “God Bless Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump, and the United States of America.”

The event also traditionally announces the winner of the C.W. “Bill” Young Public Service Award.

‘Snow job’ for Jacksonville protesters was only a matter of time

Until Friday, most people outside the circles of regular protesters and Duval County Republican Party activists didn’t know the name “Gary Snow.”

Bet they know it now.

Snow, who recently came to Jacksonville by way of Chicago, has a unique shtick.

Under the aegis of supporting President Donald Trump, Snow makes a habit of showing up at protest events of the “Indivisible” sort, waving a giant Trump flag and bellowing into a megaphone.

The effect is of a cartoonish heel, a wrestling character from the 20th Century.

Snow is real performance art: an attempt to lampoon and discredit the energy of left-liberal protests.

Nonetheless, Snow is also a big guy — big enough to appear physically imposing to smaller people, for sure.

Throughout his time in Jacksonville, Snow was able to make it work, with successful provocation outside a Bill Clinton event in Jacksonville in October, effective disruption of a protest of Rep. John Rutherford, as well as other such events.

Ironically, one of his earliest provocations was an August protest put forth by the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition.

Ironic as it may have been, it was a JPC protest that went sideways Friday night, where protesters were physically subjugated then arrested — something now being reported by the London Daily Mail.

What makes this particular protest in Hemming Park notable: the police approach that seemed more akin to the laissez-faire handling of squabbles between regulars convening in the plaza, than simply managing a protest.

Permitted to romp in and through the protest, Snow stood shoulder to shoulder with speakers, waving a Trump flag and provoking them.

At the 1:47 mark of a video posted on the Daily Mail page, it appears Snow nudged a protester into a police officer, seemingly a catalyst for the resulting chaos.

[NOTE: Snow denies having nudged anyone.] 

Snow’s Facebook page indicates that whatever happened (certainly the “Hemming Park 5” will get their days in court, both for these criminal actions and potential civil actions), he accomplished what he set out to do.

“They said I was a ‘lone Trump supporter’ at the beginning. …. They said that my support for our President was irrelevant. …. They said I would never matter. …….. SEEMS I GOT THEIR ATTENTION NOW!!!!!!”

“I don’t have sympathy for somebody when they literally stand up in front of police officers in a public place and scream in a megaphone ‘[Expletive Deleted] THE POLICE.'”

And so forth.

For what it’s worth, this protest is in the books. There will be a number of court hearings that will seem less urgent with every passing news cycle after Friday night’s conflagration.

But the “Snow Effect” will change future protests.

For one thing, the JSO will to have to figure out crowd control — something that has been loose during events which Snow has attended, to the point that many on the left are suspicious as to why.

Another thing, the left needs to begin getting serious about its own security.

A buffer of people around speakers could ensure individuals like Snow couldn’t disrupt proceedings time and again. If they did that, what happened Friday may have been discouraged.

I write this as someone who witnessed a lot of protests, especially of American foreign wars. And as someone with no illusions about how much such protests actually accomplish.

A few dozen people chanting in Hemming Park aren’t in a position to affect American military adventurism — especially when even avatars of the corporate-media left, such as Rachel Maddow, covered those strikes with all the enthusiasm of the opening segment on First Coast Living.

The protest means nothing in terms of changing the minds of anyone in a position to make policy. However, what went on at this protest presages a new era of protest in Jacksonville, one in which law enforcement and State Attorney Melissa Nelson will deal with the chasm between what those on the left want and what a center-right political culture can actually provide.

Politicians in Northeast Florida talk about public safety much more than they do personal liberties, and that will necessarily be the default reaction to this and future protests ending in booking sheets and arrest reports.

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An irony attendant to all of this: Trump rallies last summer were notable for the inevitable “throw ’em out” riff targeted toward protesters in the crowd.

As he was when he launched his Presidential campaign, Trump was prescient in taking that approach to protest.

He knew that the bare-knuckled politics that he would come to embrace necessarily would find analogues everywhere else.

Thus, he controlled rally spaces as if they were Trump casinos — prioritizing crowd control above other concerns.

William Burroughs famously wrote that “control needs control to control.”

What clearly happened Friday: protesters lost control of their protest, leaving vulnerabilities ready for Snow to exploit.

Again, they will encounter such provocation.

If so, what will their strategy be next time?

Proposed border adjustment tax would cost Florida importers millions

The border adjustment tax House Republicans are mulling over could cost an average Florida importer hundreds of thousands of dollars in new taxes according to a report released Friday.

The Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce report identified 23,005 importers in the Sunshine State and estimated the average cost of the tax on such businesses to be $624,000.

The plan would tack on a 20 percent tax on imported goods while allowing exported goods to be sold tax free.

A BAT would bring big tax reductions to American exporters, though the retail industry and oil refining industries would be particularly hard hit by the change, which is being tossed around to counteract the large reduction to the corporate income tax being pushed by President Donald Trump.

The tax would bring in an estimated $1.2 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years, but the way the tax works could cost some states much more than that.

The report said three states – California, Texas and Illinois – would be on the hook for a combined $170 billion had the tax been in place in 2014, which far outstrips the net federal government income of about $100 billion a year.

In 2015, the retail industry accounted for more than 1 million Florida jobs, or about 15 percent of private sector jobs, and in order to keep those jobs consumers could see prices on retail goods skyrocket.

“Consider a shoe retailer that imports the shoes it sells from a manufacturer in China. It buys a pair of shoes from the manufacturer for $50 and pays $10 in shipping costs. The retailer sells the shoes for $70, earning a $10 profit. Under the current tax system, the retailer would owe 35 percent in taxes on the $10 profit, because it would get to deduct the $60 it paid in business costs acquiring the shoes. The total tax bill would be $3.50.

“Under the proposed tax reform plan with a border adjustment tax, the retailer would pay a 20 percent (the proposed corporate rate) tax on the $10 profit, or $2. However, the retailer would also pay a 20 percent BAT on the $50 cost of the imported shoes, bringing the total tax bill to $12 — which is more than the retailer’s profit from the sale.”

The report closes out by saying that if a BAT is implemented, the cost to businesses and could be “on par with the Affordable Care Act or former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s plans to reshape the American tax system.”

“Lawmakers who think that the BAT can’t impact their states are mistaken; the risks and costs that would come along with border adjustment are too much for American consumers and businesses to bear,” the report said.

Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy support Syrian missile strikes, seek long-term strategy

Orlando’s two freshmen Democratic U.S. congresswomen both declared their support for President Donald Trump’s missile strikes on Syria Friday yet expressed a yearning for a long-term solution.

U.S. Reps. Val Demings of Orlando and Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park made their statements to the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida during a luncheon update on their first three months in Congress.

Beyond Syria, both expressed desires for bipartisan efforts to address health care by considering improvements to the Affordable Care Act, and both disavowed any overt partisan glee or anger regarding health care bills, Friday’s confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

But the most sincere bipartisan overture they each made had to do with their mutual horror over the chemical weapons Syrian President Bashar Assad used on his people this week, and their support for Trump’s missile attack on Baashar’s air base Thursday night.

Murphy, a former Defense Department analyst who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, called the attack “singular” and “measured.” Demings, a former Orlando police chief who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, called it “immediate and appropriate.”

“Our national security, the security of our nation, has to be, it must be, our number one concern, and it has to be at the forefront of our minds every day,” Demings said. “We all saw the horrific images in Syria a couple of days ago, of children, women and men who were brutally murdered, led by Assad, a chemical attack against his own people. We all saw the images of the babies.

“I was pleasantly pleased to see the president respond to those images and clearly respond,” Demings said. “I believe the airstrike, 59-missile strike, was immediate and appropriate.”

Murphy noted Tuesday was not the first time Assad had used chemical weapons on his own people.

“The response, the military strike was a singular response,” Murphy said.

But now what, both members of Congress asked?

“Having been in the Department of Defense and knowing how we made decisions and how we plan for these things, what I’d really like to see is broad plan that doesn’t just encompass the military means, but the political end,” Murphy said. “We know as a country based on a lot of conflicts that we found ourselves stumbling into, one airstrike, one deployment of special forces at a time, we’ve found ourselves in places getting further and further drawn in without establishing up front what our political goal is.”

Demings agreed, saying she hopes Secretary Rex Tillerson will lead a diplomatic mission to get allies to work together to address Syria longterm.

“We must have as we go forward a multi-level approach,” she said.

Both members, like all others, are expecting to get called back to session, ruining their two-week break at home, to take another stab at passing a health care bill. Murphy complained that it would be an overhauled bill that members have not had a chance to read and analyze, much less take back to their constituents to talk about, and called it, “an unacceptable way to govern.

Demings said she doesn’t mind going back, but implied that a likely second failed health care bill discussion was not why she thought they should go back.

“I don’t mind going back, because I signed up this,” Demings said. “But if you’re going to call us back, we just dropped 59 missiles on Syria, if you’re going to call us back, let’s have a discussion about calling us back to talk about this multilevel approach for Syria. Where is the phone call for that? Where is the phone call for that.

“If you’re going to be called back, let’s sit down and talk about how we keep our nation safe, and how we deal with a madman, a dictator in Syria,” Demings added.

 

Charlie Crist, Kathy Castor want Congress consulted on military force in Syria

The two Tampa Bay-area Democratic members of Congress — Kathy Castor and Charlie Crist — say they support President Donald Trump‘s military action in Syria Thursday night. both say that the House of Representatives should immediately reconvene so that members can debate the use of military force there.

But both say the House of Representatives should reconvene immediately so members can debate the use of military force there.

That seems doubtful, perhaps, as the House is breaking Thursday for a two-week Easter recess.

“The Tomahawk missile strike on the Syrian air base was an important and targeted response to Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons,” Castor said. “Russia and Iran should be held accountable as well for their support of Assad and his war on the Syrian people.”

“The continued atrocities committed by Bashar al-Assad against innocent men, women, and most horrifyingly, children and infants, are an assault on humanity and must be stopped,” said Crist. “Last night’s targeted airstrikes were a proportional and appropriate response, making clear that these war crimes will not go unanswered.”

Both Democratic lawmakers say that the Constitution puts the responsibility to declare war with the Congress, and that the President should make his case before them if he is prepared to engage further in Syria.

‎”Congressional leaders, the Trump Administration and Obama Administration have been derelict in following the requirements of the Constitution and law for a formal Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF),” said Castor. “The military strike on Syria and ongoing war on ISIS should prod policymakers to return to Washington and adopt a new AUMF.”

“Congress must also do its part and return immediately from recess to debate an Authorization for Use of Military Force to determine a comprehensive strategy for the United States and our allies,” said Crist. “We need clear objectives to end this crisis to protect our troops and the Syrian people.”

Castor has previously criticized Barack Obama for not getting an Authorization for Use of Military Force in engaging in battle with the Islamic State, criticism that some other Democrats made as well, none more loudly than Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

Congressional Democrats as a whole seem to be parroting a consistent line Friday, praising Trump for the cruise missile attacks on a Syrian military base, but insisting he go before the Congress to get authorization before any further action.

Rick Scott: ‘About time’ for Syria strike

Taking an unusual step of weighing in on a foreign military incursion, Florida Gov. Rick Scott released a statement Friday morning supporting Thursday night’s U.S. military airstrikes on Syria.

“President Trump took the right action and acted decisively. The Assad regime is responsible for the horrendous killings of innocent men, women and children. These chemical attacks against innocent Syrian people are sickening, and it’s about time someone stood up for them. I appreciate our brave military heroes who conducted this mission,” Scott said.

The next decision by this president that Scott opposes will be the first.

U.S. military action, meanwhile, is something almost all Florida Republicans can support.

Yet, Scott’s statement stopped short of the measures, advanced by Sen. Marco Rubio in one of his many media appearances since Thursday night’s airstrikes.

“We need to now move forward through a combination of diplomacy and, quite frankly, the support of groups on ground, particularly non-jihadist Sunni groups, to create alternatives to the Assad regime,” Rubio said Friday morning.

Marco Rubio says next step in Syria is negotiating regime change

Sen. Marco Rubio says the next step in Syria should be to work with Sunni governments to discuss “an alternative” government in Syria.

Rubio is a Florida Republican and onetime rival of President Donald Trump. The conservative tells NBC’s “Today” show that Trump should reach out to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Turkey, to discuss ways to get Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down and create a new regime. Assad has not responded to diplomatic pressure in the past, but Rubio says the military strikes could change that.

He says, “We need to now move forward through a combination of diplomacy and, quite frankly, the support of groups on ground, particularly non-jihadist Sunni groups, to create alternatives to the Assad regime.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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