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Three Big Things
 you need to know
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A budget deficit challenge for Trump's tax plan

A budget deficit challenge for Trump's tax plan

President Donald Trump plans to stick with his campaign pledge to slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, but the dramatic cut raises a problematic question for the White House: How can the president deliver the 'massive' tax cut he promised without also blowing a massive hole in the budget? A senior administration official confirmed the planned reduction to corporate rates, speaking on condition of anonymity in order discuss details of the plan the president is expected to unveil Wednesday. Most outside economic analyses say the type of tax cuts being promoted by Trump would likely fuel even larger deficits for a federal government already projected to see its debt steadily rise. The lowered tax rates are also unlikely to generate Trump's ambitious promised growth rate of 3 percent a year, roughly double the 1.6 percent growth achieved last year. These two factors are related because the Trump administration is counting on faster economic growth to produce additional tax revenues that could then close the deficit. The concept was popularized as 'trickle-down' economics during the Reagan years. The problem is that the economy can't grow quickly enough to cover the likely hole in the deficit. 'There's no pure tax cut that pays for itself,' said Alan Cole, an economist at the right-leaning Tax Foundation. Trump has promised to release the outlines of his tax plan Wednesday and has said the plan would give Americans a tax cut bigger than 'any tax cut ever.' During the campaign, he backed cutting the corporate tax rate — and the personal income tax rate to 33 percent from a top marginal rate of 39.6 percent. Although he did not disclose details, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday the lower tax rates would generate so much economic growth that it would hold the deficit in check. 'The tax reform will pay for itself with economic growth,' Mnuchin said at the White House news briefing, adding that the overhaul would ideally let someone file taxes on a 'large postcard.' By running the risk of higher deficits, the Trump plan could damage the credibility of Republican lawmakers who spent years railing against the rising national debt under former President Barack Obama. Trump could also make it harder to pass lasting tax reform, since any policy that increases the debt above its baseline either requires Democratic support or — if passed by a slim majority of Republicans in the Senate — would expire in a decade. The House Republican tax blueprint tried to offset the lower rates by introducing a new tax system that applies to imports. Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn are scheduled to meet with congressional leaders Tuesday evening to talk about the president's tax plan. They are expected to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas. Hatch and Brady will be key players in Congress as lawmakers try to tackle a tax overhaul. Trump's announcement Friday that he would unveil a tax plan this week caught lawmakers by surprise, despite regular conversations among Mnuchin, Cohn and congressional leaders, said a congressional aide. The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue. Without a proposal on the table, the White House has been vague about the president's support for ideas circulating in Congress. It's unclear whether the president favors the House Republican blueprint's border adjustment tax system, which would lower corporate rates to 20 percent by essentially taxing imports and excluding U.S. exports. Trump told Fox Business News that he prefers a 'reciprocal' tax in which any tariffs, duties or taxes would match what trading partners charge. Most economists say it's unlikely that tax cuts can generate enough gains to avoid swelling the government's red-ink problem — estimated to total $559 billion this year. They also have recent real-world examples to make their case: Tax cuts in Kansas made by Gov. Sam Brownback failed to deliver the expected boost, forcing the state into years of grueling budget battles and harsh spending cuts to make up the gap. The benefits of the tax cuts could also be limited by economic forces beyond Trump's immediate control. The Federal Reserve could raise short-term interest rates, investors might charge the government higher borrowing costs and a stronger dollar could temper growth through exports, said Mark Doms, a senior economist at the bank Nomura. 'Doing some kind of tax cut might boost growth a bit, but there are forces that would counteract the tax cut,' Doms said. Tax reform would likely have a modest effect on growth, almost surely not enough to match the administration's 3 percent growth target, said Mark Mazur, director of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and a former assistant treasury secretary for tax policy in the Obama administration. Major tax cuts might also provide a short-term boost, but they would likely produce additional debt that would dampen growth in the future. 'The laws of arithmetic kind of catch up to you,' Mazur said.

Trump's Mar-a-Lago loses State Department promotion posting

Trump's Mar-a-Lago loses State Department promotion posting

The State Department has removed its promotional posting about President Donald Trump's Florida resort, after a storm of ethics criticism. In an April 4 blog post that was republished by several U.S. embassies abroad, Mar-a-Lago was described as 'Trump's Florida estate,' where he has hosted foreign leaders. 'By visiting this 'winter White House,' Trump is belatedly fulfilling the dream of Mar-a-Lago's original owner and designer,' the post said. Left unsaid: Mar-a-Lago is part of Trump's business empire. After his election, the resort doubled its membership fee to $200,000. As president, Trump has visited the property seven times, and its restaurant fills up when he's in town. The State Department said late Monday that its intention was 'to inform the public about where the president has been hosting world leaders' and that it regrets 'any misperception.' That statement now appears in place of the original blog post. The White House did not respond to questions about whether it had any involvement in the original posting or the decision to take it down. The post originated on 'Share America,' a State Department project. Its website describes its mission as 'sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society.' Other topics on the Share America page include a new U.S. coin honoring Frederick Douglass, debate over the Confederate flag and news about first lady Melania Trump's participation in the State Department's International Women of Courage award ceremony. The Mar-a-Lago post was nearly three weeks old but gained traction Monday when several people noticed the U.S. embassy to the United Kingdom was featuring it. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, asked on Twitter why taxpayers are 'promoting the president's private country club' and referred to the incident as 'kleptocratic.' Norman Eisen, who was President Barack Obama's chief ethics attorney, said the promotion is 'exploitation.' Eisen compared it to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway's promotion of Ivanka Trump's clothing business, for which she was 'counseled' but not otherwise reprimanded by the White House. 'This idea of using government for private gain is metastasizing,' Eisen said. 'It must be stopped.' On Twitter, Richard Painter, who served in an ethics role for President George W. Bush, called the State Department post 'Use of public office for private gain pure and simple.' Eisen, Painter and other attorneys have sued Trump, alleging violation of the 'emoluments clause' of the U.S. Constitution. That provision says the president may not accept foreign gifts or payments without the consent of Congress. The Trump Organization argues that this prohibition wasn't intended to cover fair-market exchanges. __ AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

Mayor Curry's pension reform plan unanimously approved by City Council

Mayor Curry's pension reform plan unanimously approved by City Council

It's been a long road, but the Jacksonville City Council has unanimously voted to pass Mayor Lenny Curry's pension reform plan.   The bills include using a half-cent sales tax approved by voters back in the 2016 election to help pay down the $2.8 billion dollar pension debt.   But just moments after the plan was passed, some on the council were already talking about tweaks.   Councilman Danny Becton announced he's working on a bill that would make extra payments toward paying down the debt, comparing it to a 30-year mortgage.   'After a number of years, as your income grows, maybe you've gotten some promotions, that mortgage you took out many years ago, isn't as bad as it seemed that first day. Your like, 'Oh, I can pay more', and your accountant tells you that you can save hundreds of thousands of dollars by putting a little bit more and making this a 15-year mortgage,' explains Becton.   Mayor Curry is set to sign the pension reform bills Tuesday, April 25, outside City Hall. He'll be joined by members of City Council, Sheriff Williams, union leaders, and business representatives.

Sign up to see Herman Cain live, as he hosts his show in the Harrell & Harrell Performance Studio at the News 104.5 WOKV studios on Thursday April 27th from 10AM to Noon. Food provided, courtesy of Gilbert's Social!
Sign up to see Herman Cain live, as he hosts his show in the Harrell & Harrell Performance Studio at the News 104.5 WOKV studios on Thursday April 27th from 10AM to Noon. Food provided, courtesy of Gilbert's Social!
A 59-year-old woman is dead after she tried crossing the street on I-95 North near Forsyth Street.  According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Courtney Lynn Richard was driving in the outside lane of I-95 Northbound and her Toyota Corolla hit Deborah Tompkins on her left side.   Richard continued to drive on I-95 to her home where he car was later found. Charges are currently pending. 
Nearly seven months ago Hurricane Matthew gutted Donna Wright’s Davis Shores house in St. Augustine, she’s still rebuilding so she has a place to call home again.“I didn’t have any insurance, flood insurance,” Wright said. “I’m staying with friends and living in my car.”Mom Kira Anderson and her family spent the last six months living in a fifth-wheel camper in their own driveway. TRENDING: 'Firefighters saved my life,' Florida rattlesnake victim says They’re slowly moving back into their Davis Shores home as they rebuild.“Living in a camper with your husband, kids and 110 pound dog (for six months) is awful,” Anderson said.Monday, the St. Augustine City Commission approved the first steps to change a city ordinance to allow hurricane victims to temporarily live on their private property while repairing their home.Neighbors would have until the city issues them a certificate of completion, or their building permit expires to stay. The city’s current ordinance does not allow this.“We are not doing anything to move people or displace people,” St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver said.St. Augustine leaders say 12 families still live in RVs and campers in their own driveways in Davis Shores, nearly seven months after Hurricane Matthew. LOCAL NEWS: Brawl at Orange Park Mall involved up to 60 people, Clay County Sheriff's Office says The city does not have a hard count of how many victims left after the storm, or are rebuilding. Now the city is working with different organizations to get an official head count.Neighbors say at least 50 individual hurricane victims total in Davis Shores are still living in their driveways.“We will do everything in our power to identify them and get them on the right road,” Shaver said.City leaders say the proposed change to the RV and camper ordinance for Hurricane Matthew victims must to go through a few more steps before coming official.
A Brunswick man is under fire after neighbors say his dog attacked a little boy Monday afternoon.It happened in Brunswick off Ogg Avenue.According to the Brunswick News, the pit bull mix dog was chained in the backyard of a duplex home on Ogg Avenue, where the 4-year-old was being watched by a babysitter. TRENDING: 'Firefighters saved my life,' Florida rattlesnake victim says The child was playing in the front yard, when the babysitter went inside briefly, according to published reports. Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering told the Brunswick News that the child walked to the backyard, where he was attacked by the dog.Action News Jax asked a neighbor if the dog has ever attacked before.“No, no, he always keeps his dog tied up, always. His dog never runs,” neighbor Derrick Preston said.The child was taken to Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville, according to the Brunswick News.The dog is with Animal Services, which will monitor the dog for 10 days before taking any action.  LOCAL NEWS: Brawl at Orange Park Mall involved up to 60 people, Clay County Sheriff's Office says
On Monday, six law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty were recognized in Tallahassee. One of those six was Deputy Eric Oliver. Deputy Oliver, who worked for the Nassau County Sheriff's Office, died in November 2016 while chasing a suspect. TRENDING: 'Firefighters saved my life,' Florida rattlesnake victim says Oliver's supervisor Sgt. Charles Lucas said he met Oliver when they both went from the detention center to the sheriff's office. 'We would chit chat on a regular basis and we both have little girls and that was a big topic,' Sgt. Lucas said. Lucas said Oliver was great at his job and deserved to be honored in Tallahassee. 'He always did his job and provided the community with the best service he could,' Lucas said. LOCAL NEWS: Brawl at Orange Park Mall involved up to 60 people, Clay County Sheriff's Office says Nassau Sheriff Bill Leeper and members of Oliver's family were at the ceremony as he was remembered. 'Him being honored today is the ultimate sacrifice,' Lucas said.
It's been a long road, but the Jacksonville City Council has unanimously voted to pass Mayor Lenny Curry's pension reform plan.   The bills include using a half-cent sales tax approved by voters back in the 2016 election to help pay down the $2.8 billion dollar pension debt.   But just moments after the plan was passed, some on the council were already talking about tweaks.   Councilman Danny Becton announced he's working on a bill that would make extra payments toward paying down the debt, comparing it to a 30-year mortgage.   'After a number of years, as your income grows, maybe you've gotten some promotions, that mortgage you took out many years ago, isn't as bad as it seemed that first day. Your like, 'Oh, I can pay more', and your accountant tells you that you can save hundreds of thousands of dollars by putting a little bit more and making this a 15-year mortgage,' explains Becton.   Mayor Curry is set to sign the pension reform bills Tuesday, April 25, outside City Hall. He'll be joined by members of City Council, Sheriff Williams, union leaders, and business representatives.
When the federal courthouse doors opened in Downtown Jacksonville Monday morning, prospective jurors crowded around and quietly filed in. By 8:54 a.m., former Congresswoman Corrine Brown was sitting in a courtroom next to her attorney, with a small notepad and pens in front of her, waiting for the people who would decide her future to file in to the courtroom to be screened. While a court order indicated 39 prospective jurors had been summoned for the fraud trial, the instructions laid out Monday morning by Magistrate Judge James R. Klindt put the pool at 65 people. By the time the day was done, 21 of those prospective jurors had been excused. The number will be whittled down to twelve jurors and two alternates, and the court aims to have that done by the end of the day Tuesday. Brown and two others are accused of collecting more than $800,000 in donations for a group they claimed was a non-profit - One Door For Education - and using the money for personal expenses instead, including travel, car repairs, and events hosted by or held in honor of Brown, who was in Congress at the time. Her two alleged co-conspirators - her former Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons and the head of One Door Carla Wiley- have both taken plea deals. Brown faces twenty-two charges including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, filing false tax returns, and more. If convicted, she faces more than 350 years in prison. A jury must issue a unanimous verdict to convict. After the list of prospective jurors was passed out to the attorneys, there was a brief break so either side could sort through the information. Brown was actively engaged with her attorney James Smith III during this break, including pointing to different items on the papers that were handed out. Prospective jurors then filed in one-by-one, seated in the order of their randomly assigned number, to face the initial group questioning. For this jury selection process, Klindt told the courtroom he had studied high profile and high publicity cases from the Middle District of Florida and the 11th Circuit to determine the best practices. Even before the standard questions, he asked jurors about any familiarity with Brown, whether they’ve supported her in the past, whether they have any bias toward or against her, whether they know the witnesses who will be called, and similar areas. While there were only a few people who said they knew Brown or had any feelings about her, more than half of the pool- 39 people- had some level of personal knowledge about this case because of conversations, social media, or what they’ve consumed through the news. These questions were laid out in the group setting, with jurors raising their hands, for an affirmative answer. Individual questioning then followed, where the court got a better idea of the range of knowledge about the case and, more importantly, whether that information has led the prospective jurors to form an opinion on guilt or innocence, and if that opinion could be set aside to consider only the evidence presented as trial and the instructions provided by the court. The court also probed deeper in to any “extreme hardship” that would prevent a juror from committing to this trial, with most of those relating to medical or financial issues. The extended questioning was done individually, with Klindt specifically saying he wanted to be careful that anything a prospective juror had to say would not influence others. In all, 45 prospective jurors in the 65 person pool were questioned through Monday, specifically about this case. 21 were excused “for cause”- nine of those were based solely on prior knowledge of the case or feelings toward Brown that couldn’t be set aside, while another six were excused for multiple factors that included pre-trial publicity. The remaining strikes “for cause” were because of hardship or familiarity with people involved in the process. Two strikes “for cause” were denied by Klindt. The 24 prospective jurors who were questioned and retained, along with the 20 people who didn’t face questioning Monday, will return Tuesday for the second phase of screening. That will involve the standard questioning, like personal information of the prospective jurors, whether they’ve served on a jury before and other areas. Before that second phase, though, Klindt has decided to add another ten or so prospective jurors to the pool. They’ll be individually questioned to start the day, and any remaining after that will join the group of 44 rolled over from Monday. In addition to strikes “for cause”, attorneys have a set number of “peremptory” strikes they can exercise when questioning is done. The attorneys for both sides have been allowed to ask questions of the prospective jurors as well, through the process so far. WOKV is inside the federal courthouse as these proceedings move forward. Check back frequently at WOKV.com for updates.
Sign up to see Herman Cain live, as he hosts his show in the Harrell & Harrell Performance Studio at the News 104.5 WOKV studios on Thursday April 27th from 10AM to Noon. Food provided, courtesy of Gilbert's Social!
Sign up to see Herman Cain live, as he hosts his show in the Harrell & Harrell Performance Studio at the News 104.5 WOKV studios on Thursday April 27th from 10AM to Noon. Food provided, courtesy of Gilbert's Social!
State Department pulls down web story about Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club

Hours after a U.S. Senator accused the Trump Administration of using taxpayer dollars to promote President Donald Trump’s private club in Florida, the State Department pulled down a story written by government employees about the resort, what some ethics experts said was nothing more than an advertisement for Mr. Trump’s personal business interests.

“Use of public office for private gain pure and simple,” said Richard Painter, a former White House ethics attorney for President George W. Bush.

“Realtor.com — not the State Department– should help President Trump sell club memberships for $200,000,” Painter added on Twitter.

At issue was a post done by [More]

A new report says the U.S.-Iran prisoner swap also involved the Obama administration's decision to drop cases against 14 Iranian fugitives.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell convened the briefing, but it's still unusual for the entire Senate to meet up at the White House.
Ethics lawyers said an article posted on an official State Department blog violated U.S. law prohibiting the use of public office for private gain.
The Senate faces investigative inexperience and a lack of full-time staff while the House deals with ethics questions and partisanship.