With the 2020 election drawing near, the real estate community is beginning to evaluate the two contenders for the White House. But many analyses lose sight of democratic issues as they focus exclusively on dollars-and-cents concerns.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has drawn concern in real estate circles thanks to proposals like a reduction or an end to wealthy investors’ ability to use real estate losses to reduce their tax burdens, or even an end to 1031 exchanges in order to pay for universal preschool and improved care for senior citizens.
Other aspects of his proposals, like an increase in capital gains taxes, could actually increase real estate investment by making REITs and other tax shelters attractive. And Biden’s $640 billion housing plan would provide tax credits worth up to $15,000 for first-time homebuyers and set up a federal down payment assistance program for teachers and first responders, helping increase the pool of potential homebuyers.
Such proposals are worthy of careful consideration. Their impact on the real estate sector should be analyzed both in the immediate and the long-term. And businesses and businesspeople who would lose out under any change have a right to oppose such a shift and to lobby for its scope to be reduced.
But any examination of a potential second term for President Donald Trump or a first term for a President Biden is incomplete if it doesn’t also reckon with the damage the former has already done to our democracy and the potential for future damage he represents.
Just in the last two weeks, the president has openly admitted he is attempting to use the power of his office to make it harder for Americans to vote by mail this November and raised the possibility he won’t abide by the results of an election he loses.
“He’ll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath,” White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said last week, referring to a hypothetical Trump loss in November in the same way a dictator might.
Mail-in ballots are both a tried-and-tested method of voting, and represent the only way many have of safely casting a vote, including millions of seniors everywhere and voters of all ages in key battleground states. Yet Trump’s hand-picked postmaster general is, as of this writing, refusing to reverse his removal of mail-sorting machines and mailboxes and end his opposition to the overtime vital to processing a flood of ballots in a timely fashion.
This election season, businesses must concern themselves with more than profits and losses. Trump’s words and actions are those of a man who has little or no respect for the democracy millions of Americans have carefully built over 245 years – and fought and died for. And if he can claim another four years in the White House, that lack of respect will continue to put our foundational institution at risk.
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