White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council Executive Director Scott Turner reacts to AOC’s push to defund Trump’s ‘opportunity zones’ explaining that it would be a big mistake on ‘Fox & Friends’ with host Jedediah Bila.
Jedediah Bila: Progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Rashida Tlaib proposing to defund President Trump’s Opportunity Zones, believing the program overly benefits wealthy Americans investing in these areas. Thousands of these Zones were created in the 2017 tax law meant to revitalize poor communities through private investment. Here to react is the Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, Scott Turner. Scott, welcome to the show. This is a really important topic, these Opportunity Zones. First and foremost remind us what the significance of these Zones were, why there were created, and what they aim to accomplish.
Scott Turner: Well, good morning and thank you so much for having me. You know, the question came up, what can be done for the forgotten communities and forgotten people in America? And President Trump, and those in the Administration, when asking this question, as you alluded to the tax cuts and Jobs Act, created the Opportunity Zone Initiative. There’s 35,000,000 people in our country that live inside these Opportunity Zones and Opportunity Zones are those communities that have a higher poverty rate than the state average, that have a lower, much lower than median income, right, often times a high crime rate. And each governor and territory leader was given a task to designate or nominate these Opportunities Zones and 25% of these census tracts are available and so as a result 8,764 Opportunity Zones across America have been created. But the root of it, to your question, is, you know, what can be done to lift up, you know, our nation’s most vulnerable, distressed communities and the people inside of these communities to create, you know, new jobs, new business, better housing, retail, you know, to help people really fulfill their God given potential and use those skill set to take care of their families and start businesses and so forth. But the root of it is, you know, people in our country living in poverty, how can we help to lift them up.
Jedediah Bila: Yeah, so what’s your reaction to this push to defund them?
Scott Turner: You know, I think that’s a big mistake and, you know, we cannot say, as a people, as America, that we are concerned about our most vulnerable people in our country if we want to take away this, oh most important, initiative of the Opportunity Zone legislation. You know, I have the privilege of stewarding this council along with Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary Ben Carson and I’ve been around our country, our team has been around our country. I’ve been to over 60 cities, 65 cities of our most vulnerable communities, convening stakeholders together, both Democrat and Republican. And the beauty about this Initiative is that it transcends politics. It transcends ethnicity and creed and socioeconomic background. this is a pull to release private capital into areas that have not seen investment in decades, and not only that, but the create public-private partnerships to bring about all of these stakeholders together, as I said before, to create business. You have education leaders, I’m sorry, did you say something different?
Jedediah Bila: No problem. It’s a very different view investing private capital as opposed to relying on government investment. Obviously, very much important topic.
Scott Turner: Absolutely.
Jedediah Bila: Were out of time for today, Scott, but we very much appreciate you digging into this, and we know the debate on this will not end here, so we’re sure to have you back. Thanks so much.