Americans skeptical of Trump’s trickle-down tax plan, FAU poll finds

Americans are split on President Donald Trump’s tax plan, and nearly two-thirds say he should release his own tax returns before overhauling the tax code. That’s according to a national survey by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative.

In one caveat, the online poll of 812 adults sampled more Democrats than Republicans.


Donald Trump’s Treasury secretary says mortgage interest deduction “like apple pie”

Why Realtors hate Donald Trump’s proposal to double the standard deduction

Donald Trump proposes tax cuts

After hearing about Trump’s tax proposals, 34 percent support his plan, 41 percent oppose it and 25 percent are undecided, FAU said. More than 40 percent disagree with the idea that lowering taxes for affluent individuals and corporations will stimulate the economy.

Analysts who have studied Trump’s tax plan say it would create trillions of dollars of deficits, but Trump argues that lower taxes would offset those effects by stimulating the economy.

“Americans are a little bit skeptical of trickle-down economics,” said Monica Escaleras, director of FAU’s polling institute. “They don’t believe cutting taxes to the wealthiest individuals and corporations will benefit households across all income levels.”

Roughly half of the respondents oppose a proposal on reducing the top marginal tax bracket from 39.3 to 35 percent, while 53 percent support doubling the standard deduction that people can claim on their income tax returns.

“President Trump has a long way to go in order to convince Americans to follow the White House proposal,” FAU political scientist Kevin Wagner said.

Respondents also gave the president an approval rating of 38 percent.

The national online survey of was administered April 28-30 and has a margin of error of 3.4 percent. Breakdown by political party was 41 percent Democrats, 26 percent Republicans, 25 percent independents and 8 percent not registered.

Jeb Bush on Donald Trump’s tweets: “Someone oughta grab the damn phone”

Jeb Bush says he approves of many of President Donald Trump’s political appointments, but he’s not keen on the president’s approach to negotiating peace in Korea. The two-term Florida governor says Trump’s rash approach is creating uncertainty — and he wishes the president would stop tweeting.

“Someone oughta grab the damn phone and stop allowing him to create this uncertainty,” Bush said Tuesday at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference in Los Angeles.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush signs off on $310 million in state money for Scripps Florida. Photo by Chris Matula/The Palm Beach Post

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: President Donald Trump in Palm Beach

Bush went into the 2016 election as the Republican favorite but was vanquished by Trump, who famously mocked Jeb’s “low energy.” Bush said he tries to look beyond Trump’s harsh words.

“There are some good deeds,” Bush said. “He has made some good appointments.”

Bush also expressed skepticism about the border wall that is the centerpiece of Trump’s immigration policy.

“We have one in many places — I don’t know if you’ve been there,” Bush said. “There is a wall.”

Meanwhile, Bush said that if his bid for the Miami Marlins is approved, he won’t embark on a spending spree on free agents and instead aims to “build the team patiently.”

“Baseball doesn’t have a salary cap, which is what you have to self-impose as an owner,” Bush said. “You have to have the discipline to identify players the right way … There’s no correlation between high salaries and winning.”

Bush and former New York Yankee Derek Jeter are leading a group bidding to buy the Marlins from oft-maligned owner Jeffrey Loria.

Bush seemed unconcerned about baseball’s dwindling popularity.

“Every sport has to focus on the fact that millennials are very different,” Bush said.



Donald Trump’s Treasury secretary says mortgage interest deduction “like apple pie”

Steven Mnuchin (AP photo)

President Donald Trump’s tax proposal generated immediate backlash from the powerful National Association of Realtors, which frets that doubling the standard deduction to $24,000 will undermine the mortgage interest deduction.

Independent observers say rock-bottom mortgage rates mean the mortgage deduction has become meaningless to all but the most affluent homeowners.

When Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took the stage Monday at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference in Los Angeles, he offered only the vaguest of responses to Realtors’ concerns.

“With regards to the mortgage interest, that’s kind of like apple pie,” Mnuchin told interlocutor Maria Bartiromo. “Owning a home is something that’s been part of the American dream, and we want to keep it that way.”

Mnuchin has been the chief spokesman for Trump’s tax proposal, which includes rate cuts and the boost to the standard deduction, which is at $12,700 for married couples in 2017.

“With the increase in the standard deduction, there will be a significant part of the population that doesn’t pay taxes,” Mnuchin said. “So although the lowest tax rate is 10 percent, the lowest effective rate will be zero.”

Prison operator GEO Group leads stocks in first 100 days of Trump administration

Donald Trump on Super Tuesday. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

Reviews of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office have been decidedly mixed. But there’s no debating this fact: Shares of Boca Raton-based GEO Group have been on a tear since Jan. 20.

Investors expect the private prison operator, which runs detention centers for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will house more inmates in a Trump administration. Shares of GEO closed Jan. 19 (the day before the inauguration) at $29.05. Monday, they closed at $39.20, up 26 percent.

Plus, the real estate investment trust pays a healthy dividend of more than 5 percent. After a 3-for-2 split, GEO Group trade in the $33 range on Tuesday.

Socially responsible investors might recoil at such a play: The company has been cited time and again by federal and state regulators for horrid conditions at its facilities.


Donald Trump’s first weeks in office remind economist of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

As University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith weighs President Donald Trump’s economic policies, he thinks back to a particularly memorable ride at Walt Disney World.

“Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was strange, surreal, gritty and weird,” Snaith writes in his latest economic forecast. “It had also been described as dark — and not only because of the lighting.”

Disney World pulled the plug on Mr. Toad’s careening cars during the second Clinton administration, but Snaith (a registered Republican) sees some modern-day parallels:

“Given that Trump was a candidate unlike any in presidential history, I suppose that the start of the Trump administration should have been expected to be unlike any in presidential history, but it still feels in many ways every bit as surreal as Mr. Toad’s ride.”

“The ride began in an economic jalopy, with the economy experiencing a historically weak recovery. The latest GDP report for the fourth quarter of 2016 displayed growth of 1.9%, putting full-year growth at just 1.9% …”

“The final scene of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride … takes place in hell. It doesn’t take much digging to find people who will quickly characterize the Trump administration as hellish. And even those who are neutral or support the administration must feel somewhat bedeviled by how the initial weeks of the Trump presidency have been playing out. Those of us tasked with predicting how the future will look must somehow peer through the smoke, ignore the smell of sulfur, and try to see the world beyond this harrowing scene …

“I also recall from that ride, on my first trip to Disney World, the car emerged from hell, bursting through the gates and into the bright Florida sunshine. I still see a similar ending for Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride, with the U.S. economy emerging, after this hellish start to his administration, into a brighter future of faster economic growth — demons be damned.”

Trump, China and Twitter: 9 tweets that likely irked PRC leaders

President Donald Trump hosts his Chinese counterpart at Mar-a-Lago next week. It’s the second global — and Asian — leader the president brings to the Southern White House.

But this meeting may not be as amicable as the golf diplomacy with Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe. In fact, People’s Republic President Xi Jinping will not stay at Mr. Trump’s Palm Beach club but instead will spend the night in Manalapan.

President Donald Trump arrives at Palm Beach International Airport on Air Force One Friday, February 10, 2016 accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Abe, and the Prime Minister’s wife Akie Abe. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post

Why? Well, Twitter may have something to do with it.

RELATED: Will Palm Beach County benefit when Trump brings  a global leader?

On the campaign trail, Candidate Trump frequently blasted the trade deficit with China, saying the People’s Republic was “ripping off” Americans via unfair trade and monetary practices. Those complaints worked their way into Mr. Trump’s Twitter missives.

Since his election as president on Nov. 8, Mr. Trump has not taken China to task on Twitter very often. He’s just fired off nine times.

Full Donald Trump coverage: Galleries, news, video

But they’ve stung — in particular his defense of accepting a congratulatory call from the leader of China’s rival, Taiwan. Mr. Trump has also sharply criticized the PRC for inaction in dealing with provocative moves by North Korea.

In early January, China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, lambasted President Trump’s “Twitter diplomacy” likening it to a “child’s game.”

RELATED: Night at Mar-a-Lago: Inside charity event with Trump, Sessions nearby

Here are Mr. Trump’s China tweets since his Nov. 8 election.

Donald Trump’s press secretary: Medical marijuana is OK, recreational weed is very bad


For proponents of Florida’s budding medical marijuana industry, President Donald Trump’s position on cannabis has been a mystery. At a press briefing on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer offered some insight into how the new administration views weed.

“There’s two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana,” Spicer said. “I’ve said before that the president understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them.”

Amendment 2 won in a landslide in the Nov. 8 election, and the medical marijuana measure did surprisingly well in rural, white counties where Trump cleaned up. But Trump has stopped far short of embracing weed. Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are noted drug warriors, and Spicer on Thursday compared recreational cannabis to opioids, even though many medical experts say there’s really no comparison.

While such red states as Arizona, Arkansas, Florida and Kentucky have approved medical marijuana, recreational marijuana is mostly confined to such blue states as California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada and the District of Columbia, all of which Trump lost. (Alaska is the rare red state with legal recreational weed.)

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but the Obama administration declined to pursue pot producers and purveyors who operated in accordance with state legalization programs.

Asked by a reporter if the Trump administration would arrest sellers of recreational weed in states that allow it, Spicer said, “I think that’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it.”

For pro-pot activists reveling in a dramatic shift of attitudes toward reefer, Trump’s position seems to be a setback.

“It looks like the first shoe is dropping as expected,” Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance told the Los Angeles Times. “Trump was never all that reassuring on the issue of marijuana legalization.”

UPDATE: Chris Walsh, editorial director of trade publication Marijuana Business Daily, offers this analysis:

“It’s very difficult to parse through Spicer’s language, as his comments were very vague. Still, I think many in the industry have been lulled into a false sense of security. Trump is not afraid to ruffle feathers or go against public opinion, and the (recreational marijuana) industry should be on high alert.”

Related’s Perez to Trump: I’m not interested in building your wall

Ivanka and Donald Trump at a January 2007 event for the proposed Trump Tower Palm Beach condo on North Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach.
Ivanka and Donald Trump at a January 2007 event for the proposed Trump Tower Palm Beach condo on North Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach. Photo by Allen Eyestone.

President Donald Trump, seeking to find a builder for his proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico, is turning to old real estate friends for help.

Full Donald Trump coverage: Galleries, news, video

Among them: The Related Group’s Jorge Perez, who once partnered with Trump on a proposed West Palm Beach condo dubbed Trump Tower Palm Beach.

In a recent Wall Street Journal story, Perez said he received an email  from Trump with this message: “Any interest in building a 2,000 mile wall—30’ high—between U.S.A. and Mexico? Call me.”

“I told him I thought the wall was immoral and it wouldn’t achieve the goals he wanted to achieve,” Perez told the Journal. “Plus, I have lots of business in Mexico—I’d be finished here.”

During the real estate boom ten years ago, Related partnered with Trump to try to develop a 23-story, 150-unit condominium at 4308 N. Flagler Drive.

Originally called Icon Palm Beach, Perez changed the name to Trump Tower Palm Beach because the Trump name would be a lure for international buyers. “The Trump brand is so strong, it expands your universe of buyers,” Perez said.

... A model of the Trump Tower Palm Beach in the sales center. Real estate mogul Donald Trump unveiled his new condo project in partnership with the Related Group.
A model of the Trump Tower Palm Beach in the sales center. In 2007, Trump unveiled the condo project in partnership with the Related Group. Photo by Allen Eyestone.

Ten years ago, Trump Tower Palm Beach held a glitzy event to show off a model of the proposed luxury condo.

Attendees included real estate brokers, prospective buyers, city bigwigs and the media.

RELATED: A peek inside Donald Trump’s historic Palm Beach palace

As guests dined on sushi, the Trumps held court.

Present at the glamfest were Trump, his wife, Melania, and The Donald’s daughter, Ivanka.

Ivanka and Trump sat for television interviews and chatted with print reporters about the Intracoastal Waterway project.

Despite the hype (and the sushi), the project’s timing wasn’t great: The recession’s cold winds already were starting to blow as the demand for condominiums slowly sank, then cratered.

By October 2007, Trump acknowledged to this reporter that the real estate market was looking iffy.  “The market in West Palm Beach is not exactly great-looking,” Trump said. “We won’t go forward unless we see a robust market.”

When pressed for details about Trump Tower Palm Beach sales, Trump was vague: ” “We’ve done very well with pre-sales. We’ve had substantial sales,” he said. “There’s no reason to be specific.”

But a Related executive gave some hints in June 2007. At that point, less than half the project’s 150 units had sold (prices ranged from $900,000 to $2.4 million). Developers were shooting for at least 60 percent, or about 90 units, before starting construction. But that didn’t happen and the condo wasn’t built.

Now it’s a decade later and there’s a new real estate boom.

And Related Group still is building condos on Flagler Drive, but a little farther south, at the Rybovich Marina.

The company also built a number of apartments and condominiums in West Palm Beach’s downtown, including CityPlace South Tower, The Slade, The Prado and the Tower Condominium at CityPlace. The Related Group’s most recent Palm Beach County project is an apartment complex in Delray Beach.


Nordstrom’s move to dump Ivanka Trump brand makes more sense if you look at the merchant’s geography

Ivanka Trump (Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump (Getty Images)

Nordstrom’s decision to drop the Ivanka Trump line of apparel enraged Donald Trump and stunned marketing experts. After 46 percent of voters went for Trump, observers wondered, why risk antagonizing a large swath of the shopping population?

But a look at Nordstrom’s geographic footprint shows snubbing the president might not be such a risk. That’s because the map of Nordstrom stores looks curiously like the map of Hilary Clinton supporters.

To wit: Nearly two-thirds of Nordstrom’s 319 U.S. stores are in California, New York, Illinois and other states that voted for Clinton. Just one-third of Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack locations are in states that voted for Trump.

And the demographics grow even more skewed when you look at regional voting trends. For instance, Florida is home to 23 Nordstrom stores, but many of them are in the South Florida counties that bucked the rest of the state by supporting Clinton. And Pennsylvania’s five Nordstrom locations are centered in the Philadelphia area, where voters supported Clinton.

Even in solidly red Texas, Nordstrom stores are clustered in Dallas, Houston, Austin and El Paso, all areas carried by Clinton.

Meanwhile, Nordstrom operates no stores in eight states that voted for Trump. Arkansas, Montana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming are home to nary a Nordstrom location, according to the Seattle-based retailer’s latest annual report.

And the red states of Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky and Louisiana were home to just one Nordstrom store each, according to the merchant’s store count as of Jan. 31, 2016.

Breitbart: Trump supporters cutting up their Nordstrom cards

New York Daily News: Actor Scott Baio boycotts Nordstrom

Florida would be relatively unscathed by trade war with Mexico, study finds

Donald Trump on Super Tuesday. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)
Donald Trump on Super Tuesday. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

Amid President Donald Trump’s vows to build a border wall and tear down NAFTA, many are bracing for a trade war with Mexico.

How would Florida’s economy fare in that scenario? Comparatively well, according to an analysis by WalletHub. Its state-by-state ranking puts Florida at 36th among regional effects of trade disruptions, just behind Hawaii and just ahead of North Dakota.

Intriguingly, three states that helped sweep Trump into the White House stand to lose the most: Texas, Arizona and Michigan could see the biggest consequences from a shift in trade policy, WalletHub says.

Here’s how WalletHub ranks the states: