Q: You recently published a question about the cost of Donald Trump traveling to his home in Florida. Isn’t that expense the same for every president – didn’t they all require Secret Service on their trips and wouldn’t their cost be very similar to what Trump’s costs are?
A: While costs for travel are similar, the concern is the amount of travel Trump has undertaken since becoming president, particularly to properties he owns. A conservative estimate by the right-wing watchdog group Judicial Watch found the total cost of Trump’s travel expenses surpassed $13.5 million as of Jan. 20. Judicial Watch found the total travel costs for former U.S. President Barack Obama and his family over his entire eight-year tenure was $114,691,322, an average of $14.3 million annually. But other groups have produced higher estimates for Trump’s travel costs. The Wall Street Journal suggested before July his total travel costs averaged about $1.5 million a month or $18 million annually. Many left-leaning media outlets have produced much higher estimates.
Q: What is the status of the Decorah eagles? Will there be baby eagles this year?
A: The eagles are nesting again on several eggs this year; while one egg was crushed earlier this month, the Raptor Resource project estimated the first egg may hatch on Easter, April 1.
Q: Regarding the new income tax law as far as deductions for donations to churches and to Goodwill: How is that going to affect them if we can’t take this off our regular income tax? Will this prevent people from making donations?
A: The number of tax returns claiming deductions for charitable contributions will drop by more than 50 percent as a result of the tax overhaul, according to estimates from the Tax Policy Center. The new tax law will drain $16 billion to $24 billion a year from the nonprofit sector going forward, according to estimates from the Council on Foundations.
Q: On March 12 there was a letter by Chelle Adkins talking about an Obama-era rule issued by Social Security Administration that strips constitutional rights from those receiving Social Security Disability payments. Can you explain what rule got changed and when it was changed?
A: A Dec. 19, 2016, rule, set to be implemented by Dec. 19, 2017, would have added Social Security disability recipients deemed unable to manage their own affairs for mental health reasons to the federal background check system for gun purchases. Persons affected could appeal their inclusion in the database. The rule was rescinded after President Trump took office.
Q: The new Medicare cards with ID numbers that weren’t Social Security numbers were supposed to be issued early this year, but I still haven’t received one. When will it be issued?
A: The cards are supposed to come between April 2018 and April 2019, according to Medicare.gov.