Critics attack Trump’s tax breaks for underprivileged areas, which brought in $75 billion in investments

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WASHINGTON, DC – While the media was suggesting President Trump hates ‘underprivileged’ Americans… he’s been quietly fighting to help them.

The Trump administration enacted a tax break for neighborhoods which were considered underprivileged.  Since the program started through the tax overhaul in 2017, the White House is reporting roughly $75 billion dollars in private investments for those areas.

Opportunity zones, according to HUD are “economically distressed communities, defined by individual census tract, nominated by America’s governors, and certified by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury via his delegation of that authority to the Internal Revenue Service.

Under certain conditions, new investments in Opportunity Zones may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.

“There are 8,764 Opportunity Zones in the United States, many of which have experienced a lack of investment for decades. The Opportunity Zones initiative is not a top-down government program from Washington but an incentive to spur private and public investment in America’s underserved communities.”

President Trump often talks about the success of the program and critics are quick to pounce on anything positive coming from his administration. 

Critics of the president say that the only people who are really benefiting from the program are wealthy investors and called for an investigation in January of 2020.  Results of that investigation have not been published.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers published a study that was obtained by the Washington Examiner. 

In that report, due out on Monday, it estimates the $75 billon dollars that were raised did in fact get invested in underprivileged areas. 

Without the tax breaks provided in the President’s program, that money would have likely gone to areas not considered underprivileged.

The report says:

“The CEA estimates that opportunity zone designation alone has caused a 1.1 percent increase in housing values.  Greater amenities and economic opportunity behind the housing value increase will be broadly enjoyed, and for the nearly half of OZ residents who own their homes, the increase provides an estimated $11 billion in new wealth.”

The study concludes:

“The COVID-19 pandemic slowed investment everywhere in the second quarter of 2020, including in Opportunity Zones, but the initial evidence suggests that the OZ model has power to mobilize investors; engage state, local, and tribal stakeholders; and improve the outlook for low-income communities—all with limited prescription from the federal government. 

This report’s findings highlight the potential for the opportunity zone model to help spur the post-COVID-19 recovery in thousands of distressed communities across the United States.”

Of course, there are some who do not believe that the money raised through the tax incentives is really being reinvested in poor or neglected communities.  One of these critics, Brett Theodos, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, does not see a direct link as to how the $75 billion had been invested. 

Theodos said:

“If there is an effect, it is worth noting this may be principally through out-migration of poor folks and the in-migration of higher-income folks, rather than by raising incomes of incumbent residents.  A big issue for opportunity zones is whether they actually benefit the low- and moderate-income residents they purport to.”

While Theodos’ question may never be answered to his satisfaction, that does not take away from the overall the success of the program, at least in the eyes of White House officials.  A White House official recently said:

“Since taking office, President Trump has enacted a domestic policy agenda aimed at helping our forgotten communities and Americans reach their full potential.

“The president is committed to ensuring that no American is denied the opportunity to achieve the American dream and the Trump administration’s policies are spurring investment in underserved communities and unleashing their economic potential.” 

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Fact Check: President Trump didn’t call immigrants ‘animals’ – he said that about MS-13 gang members

WASHINGTON, DC – Democrats stayed on theme Wednesday night, in two ways.

They hammered President Trump on immigration, and they kept consistently creative with their video editing choices.

During night three of the Democratic National Convention, they aired a video montage that appears to show the president referring to immigrants as “animals.”

You can watch it on Breitbart by clicking here.

The clip shows President Trump speaking at a Pennsylvania rally in 2018. In it, the president said, “They’re animals.”

Despite the editing twist at the DNC, he’s not speaking about immigrants. He is, however, referring to the extremely violent gang, MS-13.

If his 2018 comments were played in full and not take out of context, those watching the DNC would have heard the president say:

“These are the slicers. They slice people up and remember I called them animals and Nancy Pelosi scolded me, ‘How dare he call another human being an animal?’ They’re animals.”

Twitter exploded with civilians and journalists immediately recognizing the recycled play by Democrats.

 On Aug. 20, the political editor of TownHall.com, Guy Benson, tweeted:

“DNC video deceptively splices a clip of Trump calling MS-13 animals, but the context falsely suggests he’s talking about immigrants. There are ways to criticize him on immigration without lying.

Author, attorney and radio personality Mark Levin likewise tweeted on Aug. 20:

“They just keep lying.”

News outlets had long ago fact-checked the president’s “animals” remarks. It is a word he has used more than once to describe MS-13 gang members.

In an immigration roundtable in May 2018, he repeated the reference in an exchange with California’s Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mimm. When she brought up MS-13, the president responded:

“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in, and we’re stopping a lot of them, but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.” 

A year later, Democrats used the phrase to fire criticism at the president.

Two previous presidential contenders tweeted about it. 

On April 6, 2019, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted:

“Racist language like this has led to violence throughout the world’s history. No human being is an animal. We have to be better than this.”

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg likewise posted on April 6, 2019:

“You do not refer to human beings as animals. You just don’t.”

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Proposed bill in New Jersey would allow illegal immigrants to obtain professional and occupational licenses

Shortly after the social media backlash, Politifact rated the accuracy of the tweets as false. It reported:

“His ‘animals’ comment came nearly a year ago during a White House discussion on MS-13 gang members. Trump did refer to some people as ‘animals,’ but that was during an exchange about MS-13 gang members. His comment wasn’t directly about asylum seekers. We rate the tweet False.”

The Washington Examiner doubled down on the fact-checking in its May 2019 report:

“Instead of reporting the facts, virtually every mainstream media publication and news outlet posted story after story about how Trump was maligning all undocumented immigrants.”

The Hill reported on the Associated Press’s deleting its misleading tweet, the one that took President Trump’s comment out of context:

“The Associated Press has deleted a Wednesday tweet regarding President Trump’s characterization of MS-13 gang members who enter the U.S. illegally as “animals” after the news agency said, “It wasn’t made clear that he was speaking after a comment about gang members.”

It is unclear why politicians at the DNC chose to edit and air an out-of-context quote that has been well documented as such.

Convention leaders have not commented on or apologized for the video clip.

President Trump’s campaign website posted Wednesday night, not lashing out at Democrats but clarifying that his “animals” phrasing was used inaccurately. It reads:

“Democrats repeated the claim tonight that the president called immigrants or asylum seekers “animals,” but Politifact rated this flat-out “false” and Snopes called it “inaccurate.”

The president, himself, has yet to comment.

Department of Justice charges 10 members of MS-13 gang with cold-blooded murders

May 15, 2020 – NEW  YORK, NY – According to an announcement by the Department of Justice, ten alleged members of MS-13 were recently charged in connection with three murders and numerous other crimes.

From what the DOJ states, one of the ten was arrested on May 13th, and additional five members were arrested on May 14th. Four more were scheduled to be arrested on May 15th.

According to the press release, the charges being levied among those arrested are murder in-aid-of racketeering, attempted murder, murder conspiracy, marijuana distribution conspiracy, and related firearms offenses.

The murder victims listed in the DOJ release were Andy Peralta, who was 17-years-old at the time of his murder, Abel Mosso, and Victor Alvarenga. Both Peralta and Alvarenga were killed in Flushing, Queens in 2018 and Mosso was murdered in 2019 at a subway platform at the 90th Street station in Jackson Heights.

The details of these killings are disturbing to say the least.

On April 23rd, 2018, Peralta was lured out to Kissena Park in Flushing, Queens where he was met by Juan Amaya-Ramirez and two unnamed associates. Amaya-Ramirez is known by his street name “Cadaver,” an old English word meaning “corpse.”

When Peralta arrived at the park, the trio has misinterpreted a tattoo of a crown on Peralta’s chest to be that of a symbol of the Latin Kings.

The three men then began to beat, stab, and even strangle Peralta to death. The group then carved into the tattoo of the crown on Peralta’s chest, with Amaya-Ramirez and his cohorts taking a photo and using gang-affiliated gestures in front of the corpse of Peralta.

Douglas Melgar-Suriano and Jairo Martinez-Garcia are the two men alleged to be the murders of Alvarenga. Reports state that on November 4th, 2018, the two suspects waited alongside a third individual for the arrival of Alvarenga during the early morning hours.

Alvarenga was walking down the street when the three individuals joined him.

Suddenly, Melgar-Suriano allegedly shot the victim in the head and body. While Alvarenga laid on the ground, Martinez-Garcia allegedly fired additional rounds into him.

The February 3rd, 2019 murder of Mosso was seemingly a case of gang members stalking their proverbial prey.

Records indicate that Ramiro Gutierrez, Tito Martinez-Alvarenga, and Victor Lopez were the men responsible for Mosso’s death.

Police say that the suspects saw Mosso board the subway at the Main Street station in Flushing, where the suspect’s believed the victim to be part of a rival gang.

Two of the three allegedly began to assault the victim inside of the subway car, and then proceeded to drag him off of the train at the 90th Street station in Jackson Heights.

A gun was produced by one of the suspects, but the victim had initially been able to gain control of the weapon, if only momentarily. Gutierrez, who goes by the street name “Cara de Malo” (which means “The face of evil”) warned the crowd of onlookers to keep away, saying in Spanish:

“Nobody get involved, we’re MS-13, we’re going to kill him.”

Gutierrez then allegedly took the weapon from Mosso’s hands, and shot him several times. An alleged act that would certainly live up to one who proudly touts the name “The face of evil.”

Marlon Saracay-Lopez, Ismael Santos-Novoa, and Emerson Martinez-Lara are also among those included in the recent charges, as this trio are alleged to being involved with conspiracy to commit murder.

Saracay-Lopez, Santos-Novoa and Victor Ramirez are also being charged with attempted murder from an incident linked to a shooting on August 25th, 2019.

With regard to the murder suspects, Amaya-Ramirez, Melgar-Suriano, Martinez-Garcia, Gutierrez, Martinez-Alvarenga and Lopez would face life in prison at a minimum if they get convicted. However, the nature of the crimes are also eligible for the death penalty.

The other defendants have potential sentences that range anywhere from 10 years to life in prison based upon the charges.

Thankfully, the streets have been relieved of at least a few more of this violent gang.

In the meantime, further south Georgia is also dealing with a growing gang problem.

Predictably, Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp faced recent thrashings from critics over decisions to resuscitate the state’s economy. Kemp, at this point however, should be well accustomed to empty hostilities aimed directly at his stances on public safety. 

In a bizarre trail of revisions, for example, Kemp’s recently proposed anti-gang bill, House Bill 994, suffered an unjustified deconstruction by Georgia’s House of Representatives during the now-suspended legislative session.

This dispute over enhanced gang legislation reveals a pattern of dereliction by Georgia lawmakers rooted in the enduringly cartoonish visage of the establishment Republican In Name Only (RINO).

Several Georgia House RINOs surreptitiously opposed and then “gutted” the visionary bill despite existing law declaring a “state of crisis” of gang crime in the Peach State.

Kemp’s new gang bill called the “Sheffey Act” was named after Nicholas Sheffey, an innocent 11-year-old murdered by a stray bullet in 2010 from a Crips gang shooting. The Act originally had the following key measures:

  1. Granting all District Attorneys (DA) the discretion to prosecute juveniles as adults for gang-related offenses (as opposed to judges making that call);
  2. Allowing DAs to prosecute multijurisdictional gang cases in one venue, when those cases involve criminal acts performed across multiple jurisdictions, (mirroring the state’s powerful racketeering laws); and
  3. Rendering gang related murderers, who kill to further the interests of the gang, eligible for the death penalty at the election of the DA.

Regrettably, these leading provisions were stripped from Kemp’s bill after the RINO horde sunk their hooves into Kemp’s efforts to improve public safety.

Georgia law enforcement experts have warned about the growing Gang Crisis for years, but, shamefully, the RINO opposition continues. In 2018, the Georgia Gang Investigators Association (GGIA) released its study estimating that gang membership topped 70,000.

Weeks later, the FBI released its estimate that Metro Atlanta, alone, had 50,000 gang members, who the Bureau explained were recruiting children “at a younger and younger age.”

Even with the GGIA President Jimmy Callaway and Education Director Ray Ham having tirelessly taught lawmakers the best practices to combat gangs, this legislative dereliction towards public safety – and simultaneous enabling of gangs – only worsens.

Luckily, these warnings preceded the 2018 election. Kemp and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr clearly got the message since they both ran aggressive, anti-gang campaigns that resonated with Georgia voters, as both Kemp and Carr won their races.

Astute commentary recognized these “victories demonstrate that the majority of Georgians . . . decisive and vigorous measures to protect them from gangs.”

While other officials are busy orchestrating the mass release of violent offenders through “criminal justice reform,” Kemp put public safety first and proposed a much-needed anti-gang enhancement to Georgia law.

Meanwhile, a Republican majority House with a Republican House Speaker and a Republican-led committee, however, still stripped the Sheffey Act while trampling through these three critical measures.

Who, other than pro-gang-enablers, would oppose such sensible, measured proposals in the face of 70,000 active gang members? Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds has sounded the alarm noting: “criminal street gangs appear to have been granted a sort of de facto political immunity” from both political camps.

This baffled Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz, who asserted “pro-criminal organizations” blocked these provisions, as he rightfully posited:  “With support of the governor and state attorney general, one would think that toughening [gang laws] would be a no-brainer in a state like Georgia.”

“Enter the RINOs with other plans at stage Left,” some might say, and while no one should operate on the basis of stereotypes or caricatures, the cartoonish visage of these doggedly disinterested Fat Cats comes to mind.

Gang crime victims and the law enforcement officials sworn to protect the public are usually not country club members; supporters of criminal justice reformers, on the other hand, often are. And so, mass prison release reforms without anti-gang components are championed in many Republican circles. Apparently, the resultant increase in gang crime does not concern these RINOs either. Proposals to protect victims and enhance public safety against gangs are never pushed and consistently resisted.

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Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

In other words, to victims and cops, “Let them eat cake,” the RINOs seem to say.

Are the Georgia Republicans who trampled Kemp’s anti-gang enhancements tantamount to RINOs? Observers will decide.

Comparably, last year when Georgia’s new abortion law, House Bill 481, came under attack, Republican state legislators ran for the hills in their typical stampeding fashion. While celebrated attorneys, venerated academics, and others penned columns in support of Kemp’s position, there arose a deafening silence from Georgia’s Republican delegation. 

In pushing for enhanced gang legislation, Kemp took the side of the innocent decisively, publicly, and in a way that would benefit public safety for all Georgians, not just country clubbers. The RINOs whose dereliction engineered the Sheffey Act’s ruination clearly did not have the same priorities.

Only weeks after pillaging the Sheffey Act, a haunting parallel emerged. In Metro Atlanta, a reported gang-motivated shooting resulted in the murder of a 7-year-old child. Another innocent life lost to alleged gang violence, according to reports. 

Will this horror cause reflection on Georgia House Republicans? Will they be publicly contrite? Will they admit their error and resurrect the provisions they eliminated?

Undoubtedly, Nicholas Sheffey’s mother and the surviving families of gang victims surely wish they would. The same goes for brave members of law enforcement who struggle to protect our communities against the very gang violence that legislative inaction enables, and appears to encourage.

When courageous leaders like Governor Kemp put public safety first, they should be supported, not undermined. We should all pray that it will not take more gang crime tragedies to assuage this RINO nonsense further.

It would be too easy to simply blame Democrats for getting here, but the fact that Republicans hold a distinct majority in the Georgia House demands a different conclusion. Responsible citizens should take a closer look before more gangs take advantage by jumping on the RINO stampede.

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