President Trump falters in White House as outsider dealmaker

House Republicans’ failure to repeal Barack Obama’s health care law deals a serious blow to another big part of President Donald Trump’s agenda: tax reform.

Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., say they will soon turn their attention to the first major re-write of the tax code in more than 30 years. But they will have to do it without the momentum of victory on health care.

Just as important, the loss on health care will deprive Republicans of $1 trillion in tax cuts.

The GOP health plan would have repealed nearly $1 trillion in taxes enacted under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The bill coupled the tax cuts with spending cuts for Medicaid, so it wouldn’t add to the budget deficit.

Without the spending cuts, it will be much harder for Republicans to cut taxes without adding to the federal government’s red ink.

“Yes this does make tax reform more difficult,” said Ryan. “But it does not in any way make it impossible.”

“That just means the Obamacare taxes stay with Obamacare. We’re going to go fix the rest of the tax code,” he added.

House Republicans couldn’t round up enough votes Friday to repeal and replace a law they despise, raising questions about their ability to tackle other tough issues.

“Doing big things is hard,” Ryan conceded as he vowed to press on.

Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, acknowledged that Friday’s turn of events made him doubtful about the Republicans’ ability to tackle major legislation.

“This was my first big vote and our first big initiative in the line of things to come like tax reform,” said the freshman. “I think this would have given us tremendous momentum and I think this hurts that momentum.”

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., said, “You always build on your last accomplishment.”

Nevertheless, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday the administration plans to turn quickly to tax reform with the goal of getting an overhaul approved by Congress by August.

“Health care is a very complicated issue,” Mnuchin said. “In a way, tax reform is a lot simpler.”

Don’t tell that to House Republicans who have been struggling with the issue for years.

The general goal for Republicans is to lower income tax rates for individuals and corporations, and make up the lost revenue by reducing exemptions, deductions and credits.

Overhauling the tax code is hard because every tax break has a constituency. And the biggest tax breaks are among the most popular.

For example, nearly 34 million families claimed the mortgage interest deduction in 2016, reducing their tax bills by $65 billion.

Also, more than 43 million families deducted their state and local income, sales and personal property taxes from their federal taxable income last year. The deduction reduced their federal tax bills by nearly $70 billion.

Mnuchin said he had been overseeing work on the administration’s tax bill for the past two months. He said it would be introduced soon.

Mnuchin said the White House plan would cut individual and corporate tax rates, though he didn’t offer specifics.

House Republicans have released a blueprint that outlines their goals for a tax overhaul. It would lower the top individual income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 33 percent, and reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three.

The House plan retains the mortgage interest deduction but repeals the deduction for state and local taxes.

On the corporate side, the plan would repeal the 35 percent corporate income tax and replace it with a 20 percent tax on profits from selling imports and domestically produced goods and services consumed in the U.S.

Exports would be exempt from the new tax, called a border adjustment tax.

The new tax has drawn opposition from Republicans in the Senate. Mnuchin would not reveal whether the administration will include the border adjustment tax in the White House proposal. He was speaking at a public interview event with the news site Axios.

Republicans often complained that they couldn’t do a tax overhaul when Obama was president. Now, Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House, and they see a great opportunity.

They plan to use a complicated Senate rule that would prevent Democrats from blocking the bill. But there’s a catch: Under the rule, the package cannot add to long-term budget deficits.

That means every tax cut has to be offset by a similar tax increase or a spending cut. That’s why the loss on health care was so damaging to the effort to overhaul taxes.

Ryan made this case to fellow House Republicans in his failed effort to gain support for the health plan.

“That was part of the calculation of why we had to take care of health care first,” said Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y.

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Boy seriously injured after horse kick in South Miami-Dade

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue rushed a boy to the hospital after a horse kicked him in Southwest Miami-Dade on Saturday.  

When firefighters arrived to an area near 136th Street and Krome Avenue, the 5-year-old was unconscious and had a fractured skull

A Fire Rescue helicopter took the boy to Kendall Regional Hospital’s Trauma Center.

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La. city marshal convicted in boy’s fatal shooting

A Marksville, Louisiana, marshal has been found guilty of manslaughter for the shooting of a young boy who was killed in the passenger seat of his father’s car after a police pursuit, prosecutors said Saturday.

Derrick Stafford was also convicted of attempted murder for the November 2015 shooting that killed 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis and wounded his father, Christopher Few, according to Avoyelles Parish District Attorney Charles Riddle. The boy was hit by five bullets.

Mardis, a first-grader, was buckled in the front passenger seat of Few’s car when he was shot.

In September, a Louisiana judge released bodycam video showing officers firing multiple rounds into the car.

In the graphic footage, an officer appears to say, “I don’t know who all fired,” to which another officer respond, “I fired.”

Few, who was behind the wheel of a small white car, was hit. He presented his hands to the officers and eventually, slowly, crawled out of the car to lie on the asphalt.

Later, an officer is heard saying, “I never saw a kid in the car, bro.” The officer wearing the camera responded, “Yeah, he’s, ahh … the kid is …” but doesn’t finish his sentence.

During Stafford’s testimony, a prosecutor handed the defendant a photo of the dead boy and asked, “Does that show you what a 40 caliber does?”

Stafford reportedly cried on the stand at that point.

Another marshal, Norris Greenhouse, 23, was also indicted on second degree murder and second degree attempted murder charges. Greenhouse will be tried later this year.

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Miami Open Masters 2017: Rafael Nadal advances

 Rafael Nadal‘s first fist pump Friday followed his second point in the Miami Open, when he kissed a forehand off the sideline to win a long rally.

He accompanied the celebratory gesture with a skip in his step and then hit the accelerator, holding every service game to beat Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-4.

Thus began Nadal’s latest bid to win Key Biscayne.

”A lot of big motivation,” he said.

He’s playing the tournament for the 13th time and has never won it, although he was the runner-up in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2014. At 0 for 12, it’s Nadal’s longest drought at any event, and perhaps the most glaring gap in the 14-time Grand Slam champion’s resume.

Does it bug him? He won’t admit to any frustration, but let slip that he still remembers the exact score when he was two points from the title in the third set versus Novak Djokovic.

That was six years ago.

”Against Novak – 6-5, 15-30,” Nadal said. ”It didn’t happen.”

The Spaniard has always enjoyed the atmosphere in Miami, where Latin fans give him enthusiastic support, and he likes the tournament’s hard courts. He’s simply overdue.

”I’m trying my best every year,” Nadal told the stadium crowd after dispatching Sela. ”I’ve been very close four times. I will try to give myself another chance.”

No. 11-seeded Venus Williams, whose third and most recent Key Biscayne title came in 2001, won her opening match against Beatriz Haddad Maia, 6-4, 6-3. No. 1 Angelique Kerber played until nearly 1 a.m. to beat Duan Ying-Ying 7-6 (3), 6-2.

Nadal is 15-4 this year and pleased with his play. He lost to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, and again in the fourth round at Indian Wells last week.

Against Sela, Nadal served well, erased the only two break points he faced and overcame the occasional errant groundstroke on a windy afternoon.

”It was very difficult to find the right feelings,” Nadal said. ”These kind of days, what you have to do is try to win. That’s what I did, and I’m happy with that.”

Making Nadal’s title bid easier will be the absence of six-time champion Djokovic and two-time champion Andy Murray, both out with elbow injuries.

But No. 3-seeded Milos Raonic is back. He won in his first match since Feb. 25, beating Viktor Troicki 6-3, 7-5. Raonic had been sidelined by a right leg injury.

”I’ve prepared the best I can for this tournament,” Raonic said. ”I’m not necessarily in the best position right now, but fortunately it’s a long tournament. Doesn’t mean things can’t change and I can’t get better throughout this event.”

No. 2 Kei Nishikori beat Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-3. No. 7 Marin Cilic lost to Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. American Jack Sock, seeded 13th, advanced when Yoshihito Nishioka retired with an injury leading 4-2 in the first set.

In women’s play, Elena Vesnina made a quick exit only five days after winning the biggest title of her career. Seeded 13th, Vesnina lost her opening match to wild card Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Vesnina beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Indian Wells final.

In a match that took two days because of rain, No. 6 Garbine Muguruza rallied past Christina McHale 0-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4. No. 3 Simona Halep beat Naomi Osaka 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. American qualifier Taylor Townsend eliminated No. 25 Robert Vinci 6-3, 6-2.

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Double-amputee Marine vet joins police department

The wounded warrior is now a cop — and he’ll be walking the beat on titanium legs.

Matias Ferreira, a U.S. Marine Corps lance corporal who lost his legs below the knee when he stepped on a hidden explosive in Afghanistan in 2011, is joining a suburban New York police department.

The 28-year-old graduated Friday from the Suffolk County Police Academy on Long Island following 29 weeks of training.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound rookie passed all the physical training and other requirements just like any other recruit, including running a mile and a half in around 11 minutes. He begins patrols next week, a department spokesman said.

“I just really want to be able to help people,” said Ferreira, who immigrated to the U.S. from Uruguay as a child. “I want to be involved in the community, and the police department definitely allows you to do that.”

Ferreira was on patrol in Afghanistan on Jan. 21, 2011, when he jumped off a roof in a compound suspected of being a Taliban outpost.

“As soon as I landed I knew something was wrong because it was like a movie almost. I heard a noise and everything went black,” he said. A bomb had gone off beneath his legs, amputating both below the knees. “I just saw blood throughout my pants.”

He was evacuated to a local hospital. Within days, he was back in the U.S. being treated for his injuries. Three months later he was wearing prosthetic legs.

“I was up and walking in prosthetics and really just starting my new life,” he said.

That new life has included many activities he had never tried before the explosion. He has played on a softball team of wounded warriors. He skydives, scuba dives, snowboards and rides a motorcycle.

Raised in Georgia, he met his future wife, Tiffany, when his softball team played a game on Long Island in 2012. The couple now has a 2-year-old daughter.

After working as a steamfitter, welding while hanging off bridges and overpasses, Ferreira decided to take the exam to become a police officer. He scored a perfect 100, and his fellow recruits later elected him class president.

“He has served this great country with outstanding distinction, and will now serve and protect the residents of Suffolk County,” Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said in a statement.

Ferreira acknowledges the job will bring challenges, but approaches his new career with a sense of humor. He said he was once asked during academy training whether he has concerns about injuries.

“If I break my leg, I go in the trunk and put on a different one and I keep on going,” he said.

He lives by the motto that “life without limbs is limitless.”

“The only disability we have is the ones that we make,” he said.

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