GOP Speeches Touch on Neighborhoods, The American Dream

Kimberly Klacik, right, the Republican candidate in the 7th Congressional District special election, walks with her security detail as she visits campaign supporters outside of a voting center, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Windsor Mill, Md. Klacik is going up against Democrat Kweisi Mfume in the election to fill a …
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

A theme surfaced during speeches made on Monday at the Republican National Committee’s 2020 conference: How President Donald Trump is trying to protect those who have achieved the American Dream and also is working to give all Americans a shot at that dream.

Mark and Patty McCloskey, two attorneys who faced felony charges after arming themselves against a mob of protesters that invaded their St. Louis, Missouri, neighborhood, spoke about how Trump reversed an Obama-era rule that forced neighborhood diversity by requiring the incorporation of low-income housing.

“The radicals are not content with marching in the streets,” Mark said. “They want to walk the halls of Congress. “They want to take over. They want power. This is Joe Biden’s party. These are the people who will be in charge in the future and the future of your children.”

“They are not satisfied with spreading the chaos and violence into our communities,” Patty said. “They want to abolish the suburbs all together by ending single-family home zoning. This forced rezoning would bring crime, lawlessness and low-quality apartments into now thriving suburban neighborhoods.”

“President Trump smartly ended this government overreach, but Joe Biden wants to bring it back,” Patty said.

“These are the policies that are coming to a neighborhood near you,” Patty said. “So make no mistake: No matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.”

Kim Klacik, an African-American Republican candidate for Maryland’s Congressional 7th District, noted that she was standing in an Opportunity Zone when she spoke at the convention on Monday.

State Rep.Vernon Jones (D-GA) mentioned Opportunity Zones in his remarks.

“The President also built the most inclusive economy ever, with record low unemployment for African Americans and record high participation in the workforce,” Jones said. “He put Opportunity Zones in the Trump tax bill that will drive investment into our communities for decades to come.”

Indeed, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that Trump shepherded through Congress and signed into law is offering Americans in places investors have avoided a chance to live in neighborhoods where they work, live, and attend good schools.

An article in Forbes magazine explained how Opportunity Zones work: 

Opportunity Zones (OZs) are defined as “economically-distressed communities where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.” First conceived in April of 2018, OZ plans are now in place for communities in all 50 states this year. How it works is that each state nominates blocks of low-income areas by census tract, which are then certified by the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury via his delegation of authority to the Internal Revenue Service. Through the IRS, investors can file a Form 8896 to create a Qualified Opportunity Fund — vehicles structured as either a partnership or corporation for the purpose of investing in an OZ census track, whether in real estate or directly in businesses through equity. The fund is required to hold at least 90 percent of its assets in that qualifying OZ area.

The magazine spoke to Markeze Bryant works at Palo Alto Networks in California about Opportunity Zones.

“He was born in a now-designated OZ, went to college in an OZ, and most recently was married in an OZ,” Forbes reported. “He has been working diligently to identify, and maximize, the impact opportunity of opportunity zones — and shared his insight on how communities across America can best benefit from the program.”

Forbes asked Bryant to unpack how Opportunity Zones work.

“OZs are places in the U.S. where over 30 million people live and work across our country,” Bryant said. “They cover downtown, industrial, suburban, and rural areas. They’re part of daily life for a lot of people.”

“To make a profit, essentially a taxpayer must sell an asset and generate a capital gain,” Bryant said. “The taxpayer then puts the capital gain into a Qualified OZ fund.”

“There is ultimately delay and reduction of taxes owed to the government — if held for 10 years, that taxpayer can pay zero capital gains tax on the new investment in the fund,” Bryant said. “I think that’s the real prize: if you hold your investment in some of these opportunity zones from funds, you essentially pay no tax on your returns, which could lead to a 30-40 percent increase in your annualized return.”

“That’s what I want people to really understand: this isn’t a small tax benefit, it’s pretty massive,” Bryant said. “The problem in our country is that capital has moved in a predictable fashion, to serve certain regions and populations, the last hundred years or so.”

“That’s why certain groups and places continue to be left behind,” Bryant said. “OZs are simply an incentive to move capital across America in a more inclusive fashion; more quickly and to more places where it just naturally wouldn’t end up.”

Bryant also said that both investors and citizens benefit from Opportunity Zones.

“They are extractive because investors with wealth from across the country are investing in low-income places and expect to generate a return on their investment,” Bryant said. “That capital will not be owned by the people that need ‘opportunity.’”

“However, OZs are also additive because entrepreneurs can open businesses and develop real estate using ‘Other People’s Money’ as a catalyst,” Bryant said. “That’s how people have generated wealth since the 1600s.”

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