Last week, the Democratic National Convention took place in a mostly virtual form. The Republican National Convention convened in Charlotte, North Carolina, with six delegates from each state in attendance. President Trump was a surprise guest at the Charlotte Convention Center on the opening day. Other events this week are taking place in Washington, D.C. (including Melania Trump's speech in the renovated Rose Garden), and Baltimore, Maryland.
The Republican platform so far has focused on a path toward a rebounding economy while bringing an end to protests and unrest. The first two nights of the convention highlighted the benefits of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as well as other administration programs including opportunity zones as well warning the country against the potential impact of a Biden presidency.
A potentially grim vision of the future of both cities and suburbs
On the first night, Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former prosecutor, television commentator, and the current girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., painted a dark picture of what would happen if Joe Biden becomes president. She accused the leadership in California of turning the state "into a land of discarded heroin needles in parks, riots in streets, and blackouts in homes."
Guilfoyle was previously married to the state's current governor, Gavin Newsom. President Trump has criticized California's handling of the current wildfires, saying at a rally in Pennsylvania that the state needs to do a better job of maintaining the forests.
Patty McCloskey, who recently made the news for brandishing weapons at Black Lives Matter protesters marching near her St. Louis home, said in a taped conversation that Democrats are seeking to "abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning.”
While McCloskey said that President Trump has ended this, he actually announced plans to terminate the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation, which does not have jurisdiction over zoning. Zoning is generally decided at the local level, but it has become a hot-button issue as people discuss the future of both suburbs and cities.
Opportunity zones in the spotlight
The merits of the opportunity zone program have become a key talking point during the Republican National Convention. On Monday, the White House Council of Economic Advisors released a study showing that opportunity zones have attracted $75 billion in funds and created at least 500,000 jobs. The designation of an opportunity zone was found to raise property values by 1.1%. Private equity investments into businesses in opportunity zones were found to be nearly 30% higher than investments in businesses in other areas.
In his speech on Monday, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott mentioned the program, calling it the first major effort to tackle poverty in a generation. Republicans are promising that they will expand the program in the future. On Monday, President Trump said he would order federal agencies to move their offices to opportunity zone areas. An executive order issued the same day said that when choosing federal space needs, preference will be given to qualified opportunity zones, other distressed areas, and centralized community business areas.
Joe Biden has criticized the Opportunity Zone Program in the past. In the position documents on his website, he has indicated that he will reform the program because he believes it currently allows "billionaires to exploit opportunity zones tax breaks to pad their wealth."
Differing views of the American dream
The Republican and Democratic views of the current situation share some similarities. Both sides are concerned about how the United States will recover from the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the remedies for this differ greatly depending on the party. In the coming months, both sides will hone their policy platforms bringing focus to housing, taxation, economic stimulus packages, and other issues of key concern to real estate investors.