AP News in Brief 08-22-19

  • Protesters hold signs outside of the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children while members of Congress tour the facility in Homestead, Fla., on July 15. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

Trump changes course on tax cuts, citing ‘strong economy’

WASHINGTON — A day after considering cutting taxes to promote economic growth, President Donald Trump on Wednesday changed course and said he would abandon the idea because the nation already had “a strong economy.”

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Trump’s flip came after recent market volatility and economic uncertainty, and amid a debate about whether the United States was heading for a slowdown that would imperil his reelection chances. Trump earlier this week acknowledged, for the first time, that his China trade policies may mean economic pain for Americans, though he insisted the tariffs are needed for more important long-term benefits.

But his consideration of cutting payroll taxes appeared short-lived.

“I’m not looking at a tax cut now,” he told reporters at the White House. “We don’t need it. We have a strong economy.”

Trump also knocked down the idea of indexing to the capital gains tax, which applies when investors sell assets, to inflation. He said he feared “it will be perceived, if I do it, as somewhat elitist.”

Report shows US deficit to exceed $1 trillion next year

WASHINGTON — The federal budget deficit is expected to balloon to more than $1 trillion in the next fiscal year under the first projections taking into account the big budget deal that President Donald Trump and Congress reached this summer, the Congressional Budget Office reported Wednesday.

The return of $1 trillion annual deficits comes despite Trump’s vow when running for office that he would not just balance the budget but pay down the entire national debt.

“The nation’s fiscal outlook is challenging,” said Phillip Swagel, director of the nonpartisan CBO. “Federal debt, which is already high by historical standards, is on an unsustainable course.”

The office upped this year’s deficit projection by $63 billion and the cumulative deficit projection for the next decade by $809 billion. The higher deficit projections come even as the CBO reduced its estimate for interest rates, which lowers borrowing costs, and as it raised projections for economic growth in the near term.

The number crunchers at CBO projected that the deficit for the current fiscal year will come to $960 billion. In the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, it will exceed $1 trillion.

Epstein may have gamed the system from beyond the grave

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The will that Jeffrey Epstein signed just two days before his jailhouse suicide puts more than $577 million in assets into a trust fund that could make it more difficult for his dozens of accusers to collect damages.

Estate lawyers and other experts say prying open the trust and dividing up the financier’s riches is not going to be easy and could take years.

“This is the last act of Epstein’s manipulation of the system, even in death,” said attorney Jennifer Freeman, who represents child sex abuse victims.

Epstein, 66, killed himself Aug. 10 in New York while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges. The discovery of the will with its newly created 1953 Trust, named after the year of his birth, instantly raised suspicions he did it to hide money from the many women who say he sexually abused them when they were teenagers.

By putting his fortune in a trust, he shrouded from public view the identities of the beneficiaries, whether they be individuals, organizations or other entities. For the women trying to collect from his estate, the first order of business will be persuading a judge to pierce that veil and release the details.

Trump moves to end limits on detention of migrant children

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is moving to end an agreement limiting how long migrant children can be kept in detention, the president’s latest effort to curb immigration at the Mexican border.

A court fight is almost certain to follow, challenging the attempt to hold migrant families until asylum cases are decided.

A current settlement overseen by the federal courts now requires the government to keep children in the least restrictive setting and to release them as quickly as possible, generally after 20 days in detention.

Homeland Security officials say they are adopting their own regulations that reflect the “Flores agreement,” which has been in effect since 1997. They say there is no longer a need for the court involvement, which was only meant to be temporary. But the new rules would allow the government to hold families in detention much longer than 20 days.

Tightening immigration is a signature issue for President Donald Trump, aimed at restricting the movement of asylum seekers in the country and deterring more migrants from crossing the border.

Greenland fallout: Trump scolds Denmark over rejection

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Escalating an international spat, President Donald Trump said Wednesday he scrapped his trip to Denmark because the prime minister made a “nasty” statement when she rejected his idea to buy Greenland as an absurdity.

“You don’t talk to the United States that way, at least under me,” Trump told reporters in Washington. “I thought it was not a nice statement, the way she blew me off.”

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called the whole thing “an absurd discussion” and said she was “disappointed and surprised” that Trump had canceled his visit.

Trump said Frederiksen’s comment labeling his idea as absurd “was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to say was say, ‘No, we wouldn’t be interested.’”

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Greenland is a semi-autonomous territory of the U.S. ally, and Frederiksen said the U.S. remains one of Denmark’s close allies.

From wire sources