Mnuchin says most in middle class will get tax break

President Trump’s Treasury secretary says most middle income Americans will get a tax break under the Republican plan brewing in Congress.

He stopped short of saying that break would be for all of them.

“By simplifying the code, we’re putting everybody on a level playing field,” Steven Mnuchin told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” on Sunday. “For most people — and, again, it may not be 100 percent, but by far the majority — both the House and Senate version provide middle-income tax relief.”

Mnuchin said that assessment is based on “hundreds if not thousands” of tests the Treasury has run on the bills.

Mnuchin’s comments came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walked back his claim that “nobody in the middle class is going to get a tax increase” under the Senate’s version of the reform plan.

On Friday, McConnell told the New York Times that he “misspoke.”

Mnuchin also defended the tax plan from critics, including Larry Summers, the Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton. Summers called Mnuchin’s tax cut estimates “irresponsible.”

Mnuchin on Sunday called those comments “unfortunate.”

“There are lots and lots of economists that come out and support our claims,” he said. “We’ve been completely transparent. Different models will show different things.”

Mnuchin added that a middle-class tax hike is not what Trump wants. He said lawmakers will “fine tune” the plan before it heads to Trump for a signature.

Tapper also asked Mnuchin about Trump’s claim that the tax reform bill will bring “the largest tax cuts in the history of this country.”

“We’ve tried to find a way that this is true, but it’s not,” Tapper said, pointing to research that shows the tax break would rank, at most, as the 3rd largest in American history.

Mnuchin qualified the president’s statement, saying, “This will be the largest change since President Reagan.”

He also singled out the proposal to slice the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

“If that’s not the biggest tax cut to make our businesses competitive, what is?” Mnuchin said.

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In Florida, all eyes on Puerto Rican voters after Hurricane Maria

Javier Gonzalez has joined a human tide of more than 130,000 U.S. citizens arriving in Florida since Hurricane Maria wrecked Puerto Rico, grateful for a place to start over but resenting how their island has been treated since the disaster.

More than a million Puerto Ricans — about 5 percent of Florida’s population — already call the state home, and given the outrage many feel over President Donald Trump’s handling of the storm, political observers say this voting bloc could loosen the Republican Party’s hold on this battleground state.

Gonzalez, 38, saw the storm destroy the restaurant he opened with his father five years ago. Without power or reliable water, he became violently ill from food poisoning for three weeks. Finally, he packed his bags, determined to make his future in Miami instead.

“There is resentment, and we feel abandoned compared to Texas and Florida,” Gonzalez said. “We were desperate for help.”

Like any Puerto Rican, Gonzalez can vote in all elections now that he’s moved to the mainland. He doesn’t plan to register for any party, but he follows the news and understands their platforms. He’s aware of Trump’s tweets.

“It’s not right that we’ve fought from World War I, to Vietnam and Afghanistan and that the first thing the president says is: ‘You have a large debt, big problems and have cost us millions,’” Gonzalez added.

Puerto Ricans are not the gift to the Republican Party that the anti-Castro Cuban diaspora has been historically. They’ve tended to favor Democrats, given their support for public education and social services. Around 70 percent of Florida’s non-Cuban Latinos voted for Hillary Clinton.

Both parties are courting the new arrivals to Florida, which Trump won last year by just 112,000 votes out of 9.6 million cast.

“There is an intent to grab those who are coming,” said Rep. Robert Asencio, a Democrat of Puerto Rican descent who represents Miami in the Florida House and leads the Miami-Dade Committee for Hurricane Maria Relief.

“A lot of my colleagues say they are not politicizing this, but there is an effort to bring people either to the Democratic or the Republican side,” Asencio said.

Newcomers must register by next July 30 to vote in 2018 for a new governor to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott and choose Florida’s congressional delegation, now 11 Democrats and 16 Republicans. Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson also defends his seat next year, and Scott, who has been applauded for helping evacuees, is expected to challenge him in what could be a close race.

Scott set up three disaster relief centers to help arrivals with driver’s licenses, job searches, and disaster aid applications. Scott also asked education officials to waive public school enrollment rules for evacuated islanders, and to give college-bound evacuees the same tuition breaks state residents get.

Asencio calls Scott’s actions “damage control,” given the multimillionaire governor’s close relationship with Trump, who offended Puerto Ricans by tweeting they wanted “everything to be done for them” rather than taking responsibility for their own recovery. They also resent Trump’s rating of his own disaster response as a “10 out of 10,” blaming his administration for delays that exposed their families to illness and misery.

The island still faces a lengthy and painful recovery after the storm took down the entire electrical grid, leaving hospitals in the dark and closing schools for several weeks. Initial projections that 95 percent of the people will have power restored by year’s end now look optimistic.

Maria’s evacuees are following waves of people frustrated by Puerto Rico’s unemployment and debt crisis who settled in Central Florida, shifting from New York, the favored destination of previous generations. Of the more than 140,000 islanders estimated to have left since the storm, more than 130,000 went to Florida, where Puerto Ricans may soon displace Cubans as the largest Latino group.

State Rep. Rene Plasencia, a Republican from Orlando, predicts that Scott’s warm welcome will leave a bigger impression on the newcomers than any Trump tweets.

“For whatever people think of the president, you have to take into consideration the actions of Governor Scott,” said Plasencia, whose mother and wife are from Puerto Rico. “People aren’t making decisions out of a sequence of tweets … It makes good news, but it doesn’t make political shifts.”

Billionaires Charles and David Koch also are involved, funding the Libre Initiative, which welcomed hundreds of evacuees on the first cruise ship to arrive from San Juan.

Cesar Grajales, who lobbies for Libre, says they’re helping evacuees learn English and connect with community and business leaders.

Democrats hope Colombian-American Annette Taddeo’s recent underdog state Senate victory against a well-funded Republican in South Florida shows her anti-Trump message will keep resonating.

“It is a strong indication that voters are paying attention, and they are angry,” said Cristobal Alex, president of the Latino Victory Project. “We wouldn’t have the devastation and abandonment of Puerto Rico without Donald Trump. People will look at that.”

On the island, Puerto Rico’s lack of statehood means they can’t vote in general presidential elections, and can only send a non-voting representative to Congress. On the mainland, they’ll have more power.

“I know for a fact that we are well educated and we are going to come here to work,” Gonzalez said. “And yes, we are going to make a voice. We are going to make a bigger voice than before.”

 

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NFL veteran Roy Miller accused of hurting wife, pulling hair out of her head

When Jackson Sheriffs’ Office deputies arrived to a home in Jacksonville, Nicole Miller had suffered injuries to her face and neck. She was also missing hair and her shirt was nearly ripped off. 

NFL veteran Roy Miller III was sleeping. She accused the Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive tackle of tearing out a braid out of her head.

She told deputies the argument started in the bedroom when she confronted him early Saturday morning about not coming home Friday night. A witness told deputies their four children sought shelter in the other side of the home during the fight. 

The 30-year-old father was facing a misdemeanor charge for domestic battery. He was released on recognizance Saturday afternoon and was set to appear in Duval County court Nov. 28. 

Miller’s long career with the NFL started in 2009 after he played college football for the University of Texas. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted him and he played for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2013 to 2016. He signed with the Chiefs Aug. 2. Their next game is Nov. 19 against the New York Giants in New Jersey. 

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Poland nationalist march attracts thousands on independence day

Tens of thousands of people joined nationalist marchers waving flags and burning flares in Warsaw on Saturday during protests held on Poland’s independence day.

Protesters carried banners that read “White Europe,” “Europe must be white,” and “Pray for an Islamic Holocaust.”

Some wore masks and waved red and white Polish flags, chanting “Death to enemies of the homeland,” and “Catholic Poland, not secular.”

Police estimate that 60,000 people took part in the nationalist demonstration. While the vast majority were Poles from all over the country, other protesters came from all over Europe.

One of the lead organizations behind the nationalists march is the National Radical Camp, which has previously taken to the streets to protest against Muslim immigration,gay rights, the EU and anything it considers undermines Polish Catholic values.

While support for the group remains small, its critics argue that the Polish government, which has struck a nationalistic tone and linked immigrants to crime and disease, has fostered an atmosphere of intolerance and xenophobia that has emboldened it.

Earlier on Saturday, the Polish capital had seen a far smaller demonstration by groups condemning the protesters’ hijacking of Polish independence day, which falls on Nov. 11.

The day celebrates the re-birth of Poland in November 1918, 123 years after the Prussian, Habsburg and Russian empires carved up Poland among themselves and erased it from the map of Europe.

But in the past few years, the holiday has been overshadowed by the far-right march and fears of violence.

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Four children remain at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital after rollover crash

Four children and a woman remained hospitalized Sunday after a single-vehicle rollover crash in southwest Miami-Dade Saturday night. 

Two of the children were injured so severely that Miami-Dade Fire Rescue used a helicopter to take them to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.

The other two children and the woman, who was driving a silver SUV during the rollover crash, were at Kendall Regional Hospital. 

The rollover crash happened off of the northbound lanes of the Ronald Reagan Turnpike near Southwest 112th Avenue. 

The Florida Highway Patrol was investigating the crash. 

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