Devesh Khanna via Shutterstock
The White House in December 2017 (Devesh Khanna via Shutterstock)

President Donald Trump turned to the Quinnipiac University Poll on Thursday to highlight the public’s view that the U.S. economy is on the right track.

“In new Quinnipiac Poll, 66% of people feel the economy is “Excellent or Good.” That is the highest number ever recorded by this poll,” he tweeted.

The favorable result was the highest that the Quinnipiac Poll has recorded since it began asking the question in 2001. But, what the president failed to point out was that more people credited former President Barack Obama with improving the economy than Trump.

“Unfortunately for the Trump admin, the rest of the same #Quinnipiacpoll shows that 49% of the public credits the Obama admin. And 30% say the Trump admin. Policies are hurting economic progress,” Quinnipiac University Political Science Professor Scott McLean said in a tweet.

The 66 percent who say the economy is “excellent” or “good” is up from 63 percent a month earlier. The survey also found that 37 percent say Trump’s policies are helping the economy while 29 percent say his policies are hurting. Another 30 percent say the policies are not making much of a difference. The QPoll also found 49 percent say Obama is “more responsible” for the state of the economy, while 40 percent say Trump is more responsible.

“President Trump can hang his hat on the economy, but must share the hat rack with President Barack Obama, as two-thirds of the country see the economic picture as excellent or good,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the QPoll.

The survey was not so kind to Trump himself. American voters say 53-44 percent that Trump is intelligent but say 69-28 percent that he is not level-headed and 57-40 percent that he is not fit to serve as president.

He also received low grades when asked about his first year in office: 39 percent gave him an “F” and 17 percent a “D.” He earned an “A” from 16 percent and a “B” from another 16 percent, while 11 percent gave him a “C.”

“The president is a long way from the Dean’s list in the eyes of voters,” Malloy said.

The survey of 1,106 voters, which was conducted Jan. 5-9, has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.

Tax Relief Holds for Crumbling Foundations

Recently enacted changes to tax law will have no impact on tax relief available to homeowners for repairs to crumbling foundations, according to Representatives Joe Courtney and John Larson.

The Connecticut lawmakers this week released a letter they received from the Internal Revenue Service confirming that qualified taxpayers who paid to repair damages to their homes will still be able to deduct the cost of those repairs as a casualty loss on their 2017 returns.

“This is welcome confirmation for those homeowners who have already completed repair work on their homes and will soon begin to prepare their taxes,” Larson and Courtney said in a joint statement.

While good news for those who have had work done, the two lawmakers cautioned that tax relief may not be as readily available to homeowners who have yet to make needed repairs.

“As noted in the IRS letter and in follow-up conversations that our offices have had with IRS and Treasury officials, there may be additional ‘transitional relief’ that could help other homeowners in 2018 and beyond. We will continue to work closely with the IRS and the Treasury to explore options to assist homeowners in the weeks ahead, and do all we can to ensure that as many homeowners as possible can seek tax relief in light of the new tax law,” they said.

Last November, the IRS said treatment of crumbling foundation-related repair costs would be allowed as a “casualty loss” deduction from a taxpayer’s taxable income under Section 165 of the Internal Revenue Code.

The new tax law, signed in December, temporarily limits the applicability of Section 165. Under the law, beginning in tax year 2018 only taxpayers who suffer damage related to a presidentially-declared Stafford Act disaster may deduct their property-casualty losses. This provision expires in 2025.

The December 21 letter from the IRS confirms that homeowners who have already completed repairs to their home would be able to claim the costs on their federal tax returns for 2017, or any open prior year. Homeowners should consult with a qualified tax preparer to see if they qualify for this deduction and determine how to use it on their 2017 or open year amended returns.

As of December 2016, some 567 homeowners had reported their crumbling foundation to the Department of Consumer Protection. The Office of Fiscal Analysis says that over the next 15 years affected municipalities could lose about $40 million to $80 million in tax revenue because of the problem. OFA estimates that 20,000 homes could be impacted, while other groups say it is closer to 30,000 homes.

Insurance carriers have refused to cover the damages for homeowners who experience the problems, which are thought by some to be tied to high levels of a mineral called pyrrhotite within the concrete. Pyrrhotite is an iron sulfide that oxidizes, or rusts, when it comes in contact with water. The reaction causes foundations to buckle.

And the cost of replacing a foundation — involving the lifting of a house, the demolition of the old foundation, and the pouring of a new one — can run $150,000 to $200,000 or more.

Esty Releases Infrastructure Report

Representative Elizabeth Esty this week released a 16-page report outlining “bipartisan policy solutions” to improve the nation’s core infrastructure by modernizing existing user fees, encouraging public private partnerships, and making smarter investments with limited federal dollars.

The report was drafted by a working group of the Problem Solvers Caucus that Esty co-chaired with New York Representative John Katko. The caucus is made up of Democrats and Republicans in the House who are committed to working together to solve problems facing the nation.

Esty notes that the release of the report is timely — pointing to Connecticut’s financial struggles. Connecticut’s state Department of Transportation is indefinitely postponing hundreds of transportation projects worth over $4 billion throughout the state, potentially including the replacement of the Hartford I-84 viaduct and improvements to the Waterbury I-84 “mix-master.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has also warned that regular maintenance and transit assistance for communities throughout Connecticut will likely be affected because of funding questions, she noted.

Esty holds a press conference this morning in Hartford to showcase the report and discuss what Congress may be considering in 2018 to help states deal with infrastructure needs.


• Representative Elizabeth Esty holds a press conference at 10:30 a.m. on Friday in Hartford to discuss a bipartisan infrastructure proposal she has endorsed in Congress. Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier and Connecticut Construction Industries Association President Don Shubert will join her at the conference in LOB Room 1B, 300 Capitol Ave.

• Esty joins Torrington Mayor Elinor Carbone and others at 1:30 p.m. on Friday for a roundtable discussion on infrastructure in the mayor’s conference room at city hall, 140 Main St., Torrington.

• Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy meet Friday at 4 p.m. with state Rep. Christopher Rosario and members of the Bridgeport Puerto Rican community to discuss their efforts to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. The meeting will be held in Conference Room A-B of the Margaret E. Morton Government Center, 999 Broad St., Bridgeport.

• Murphy hosts a discussion on modern-day slavery Friday at 6 p.m. in New Canaan. The event will be moderated by Krishna Patel, director of Grace Farms Foundation’s Justice Initiative. The address is at Grace Farm’s sanctuary at 365 Lukes Wood Road. A screening of the documentary “I Am Jane Doe” follows.

• Democratic National Committee Deputy Chairman Keith Ellison of Minnesota speaks at 1 p.m. on Saturday in New Haven in support of efforts to elect Democrats in Connecticut in 2018. The “community conversation” is at First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, 425 College St.

• Representatives John Larson and Joe Courtney hosts a town hall meeting on tax issues at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the AST Center at Manchester Community College, 60 Bidwell St.

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