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PODCAST: ‘Smash-And-Grab’ Meets ‘Build Back Better’

In this double-barreled edition of the New Hampshire Journal podcast, Dr. Jay Kennedy of Michigan State talks about how the surge of ‘smash-and-grab’ robberies and mass shoplifting events are actually being fueled by shoppers like you.

Kennedy, who is part of the USA-IT effort to fight organized retail crime and the black market economy, says criminal gangs are using theft and counterfeits to fill orders from unsuspecting shoppers on the internet.

And Brandon Arnold of the National Taxpayers Union breaks down the Build Back Better bill and why, he says, it’s a legislative nightmare. Drew Cline of the Josiah Bartlett Center joins in to talk BBB math, budgets and the “I” word.

Hosted by Michael Graham.


EXCLUSIVE: New Poll Shows Abortion Issue Unlikely to Save NHDems in 2022

As President Joe Biden’s poll numbers have fallen and Democrats’ prospects for 2022 have dimmed, party loyalists have largely pinned their hopes on two predictions: Passing the Build Back Better bill will boost their fortunes, and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling undermining Roe v. Wade this summer will set off a political avalanche over abortion.

But the latest New Hampshire Journal poll finds that, in the Granite State, those are unlikely outcomes.

On Monday, NHJournal released polling data showing that New Hampshire voters oppose Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar spending plan as a whole (45-52 percent) and believe it will increase, not decrease inflation (55-9 percent). These new numbers shows they oppose specifics of Biden’s new spending priorities as well.

In particular, Granite Staters overwhelmingly oppose Democratic efforts to raise the cap on state and local taxes (SALT) from $10,000 to $80,000. It’s a policy that would overwhelmingly benefit wealthy taxpayers in high-tax states like Massachusetts, New York, and California.

The Build Back Better bill would raise the cap on state and local tax deductions from $10,000 to $80,000, with most of this benefit going to the highest-income Americans. Would you support or oppose this policy?

Support: 20%

Oppose: 63%

Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas both voted for the House version of the BBB that included the SALT cap provision, which is estimated to cost $275 billion over the next five years. But when Pappas announced he was running for a third term a few weeks later, he told WMUR’s John DiStaso he actually opposed the measure.  “We need to negotiate that deduction to a level far lower than it is now,” Pappas said.

Republicans responded with mockery.

“It sounds like Chris Pappas was for the SALT deduction deal before he was against it,” said John Corbett, spokesperson for Matt Mowers’ campaign, who noted it would have only taken a handful of Democrats to stop the bill from passing in the House.

“When presented with a choice, Chris Pappas ultimately chose tax breaks for billionaires at the expense of New Hampshire families who will pay for it in higher energy and food costs. The bottom line? Chris Pappas’ promises should always be taken with a grain of salt.”

Voters aren’t keen on a provision Kuster and Pappas voted for granting work permits to illegal immigrants so they could remain in the United States for up to 10 years, either. They oppose it 44-53 percent.

If those provisions aren’t stripped out of the bill, both Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen will be voting to back them, too.

All four members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation have already voted for another unpopular policy that also benefits upper income households. The bipartisan infrastructure bill Biden signed into law included a provision to give tax breaks of up to $12,500 for people who buy electric vehicles. Only 43 percent of Granite Staters support it while 51 percent are opposed.

It’s another taxpayer-funded benefit that would largely go to the wealthy in states like California. In New Hampshire, virtually nobody drives EVs. According to vehicle registration data, as of the end of 2020, there were just 2,690 EVs in the entire state.

Republican strategists, however, say the Democrats’ real problem isn’t the devilish details, but their broad failure to address the big issues Americans are concerned about. What are those issues?

According to the new NHJournal poll, inflation is the top concern among Granite Staters, followed by COVID-19. Crime, climate change, and jobs were closely bunched together, while abortion was far back from the rest of the pack at 4 percent.

The margin of error on this poll is 3.5 percent.

It’s hard to see how an issue that ranks as low as a priority as abortion can change the fortunes of Democrats campaigning next year. And it’s worth noting that about one-third of respondents who named abortion as their top priority are Republicans. Their priority is likely more abortion restrictions, not outrage over a potential assault on Roe v. Wade.

In fact, independent and swing voters barely mentioned abortion as a priority in this poll. Just one percent of self-identified moderates and two percent of unaffiliated voters named abortion their top priority. Among swing voters, the response was too small to register.

In other words, if there is a surge of reaction to a Supreme Court decision on Roe next summer, it’s likely to be among people who are already motivated to vote their abortion politics already. Swing, moderate voters just don’t think it’s a priority.

The results are from a New England Polling survey based on online interviews with 729 New Hampshire registered voters. Interviews were collected between December 9 and 10, 2021, with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.

(See complete poll and crosstabs here)

Buttigieg Talks Up Infrastructure, Mum on Inflation, During Manchester Stop

MANCHESTER — Even as polls show New Hampshire voters are unhappy with the massive federal spending currently underway in Washington, D. C., U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg showed up in Manchester on Monday to push for even more. And he did so while avoiding the red-hot issue of inflation.

Buttigieg, a once and (possibly) future Democratic presidential candidate, said President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending plan and his proposed $2 trillion in social spending — a new CBO estimate puts that closer to $5 trillion — will be positive for the average American worker.

“It’s a once-in-a-generation investment, and along with the president’s Build Back Better plan, it will create millions of good paying jobs,” Buttigieg said of the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law by Biden.

Buttigieg was in New Hampshire to announce a $25 million U.S. DOT grant to support a project to reconnect the South Millyard District to surrounding neighborhoods and downtown Manchester. The infrastructure improvements will mitigate existing traffic congestion, increase driver and pedestrian safety, improve a critical rail crossing and freight mobility, and provide improved and accessible transportation options for the community. 

During his Millyard presser, Buttigieg took questions from a largely friendly press. He wasn’t asked any questions about inflation — which a new NHJournal poll ranked as the voters’ top priority — or about the costs of the so-called Capitol Corridor rail project he was touting. (NHJournal was excluded from asking questions by Democratic organizers of the press event.)

All the federal spending talk hasn’t helped President Biden, whose favorable rating is down to 43 percent in the Granite State, while 57 percent of voters have an unfavorable view, the new NHJournal poll shows.

Despite that, Rep. Chris Pappas is on board with the infrastructure plan, as well as the Build Back Better plan.

“We know that the cost of doing nothing far exceeds the price tag on this bill,” Pappas said.

As part of the new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, New Hampshire is getting at least $1.1 billion for the state’s roads, $225 million for bridges, $126 million for its public transportation, $100 million for high-speed internet, and $26 million for its airports. The infrastructure law also contains $10 billion nationwide for cleaning up drinking water that has been contaminated by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS.

The bill includes close to $100 million for New Hampshire passenger rail, all endorsed by the state’s Congressional delegation, though none of them mentioned the price tag during Monday’s event.  Sen. Maggie Hassan, who pushed hard for rail, said passenger rail will bring in employees and investment for the states.

“Passenger rail is so important,” she said.

The new line, connecting Nashua and Manchester to Lowell, Massachusetts, would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to complete, and according to at least one study would require $11 million to $15 million in subsidies from Granite Staters, like from property taxes. 

Buttigieg and the delegation also never mentioned how many people would be likely to use this new, expensive rail service. According to data from Amtrack, their seacoast region Amtrak line, the Downeaster, serviced fewer than 200 New Hampshire passengers a day during its pre-COVID-19 peak.

Granite State Republicans have been critical of the fact that, despite Hassan’s reported “lead role” in negotiating the infrastructure bill, New Hampshire came in dead last for total funding.

Biden’s BBB Daycare Plan Biased Against Faith-Based Providers, Critics Say

Hundreds of New Hampshire families could see their childcare endangered due to provisions in President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better spending plan that penalizes religious education.

The $1.7 trillion social safety net spending plan includes funding for early childhood education and childcare centers, a feature its booster are quick to tout. The White House pledges “universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds,” and taxpayer-funded subsidies to many families to keep child care costs “no more than 7 percent of income.” 

However, the bill also places multiple mandates on childcare facilities that accept the funding. For example, they must raise the salaries of their workers to those commensurate with the average elementary school teacher in their area, which would mean more than doubling them in most cases. Economist Casey Mulligan at the University of Chicago estimates the bill’s regulations would raise costs by 80 percent.

And then there’s the bill’s bias against religious and faith-based daycare.

At issue is a provision mandating all providers comply with federal nondiscrimination statutes, which would end up excluding many child care facilities associated with religious organizations and churches.

Bevin Kennedy, the development and communications cabinet secretary for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, said that means the state’s six Catholic childcare centers could be left out.

“There are six Catholic childcare providers throughout New Hampshire that serve the needs of hundreds of families across the state. The Build Back Better Act in its current form contains new funding for pre-K services, but it makes it virtually impossible for many faith-based child care providers to participate in receiving these funds because of explicit obligations that numerous religions and faith communities cannot meet,” Kennedy said.

Last week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with dozens of other faith-based groups across the religious spectrum, sent a letter to congressional leaders calling out the discrimination baked into the spending bill.

“The faith community has always affirmed that parents should choose the best environment for care and education of their children. The current Build Back Better Act provisions would severely limit the options for parents, suffocate the mixed delivery system for child care and pre-kindergarten, and greatly restrict the number of providers available for a successful national program,” the letter states. 

New Hampshire federal delegation, including Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas, and Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jean Shaheen, fully back the BBB spending plan.

The problem with the bill, according to the letter, is any organization that receives federal funding would be required to meet the federal government’s non-discrimination requirements, without any exemptions for religious groups. 

Kennedy said the Build Back Better bill’s lack of a religious exemption is a change from past federal funding plans.

“Although the federal funding provision at issue has the laudable goal of increasing the availability of pre-K services, the measure is drafted in such a way that many pre-K programs cannot even participate,” she said.

Early childcare is vital to the many low-income Granite States families served by the church, as it allows parents to work to support their families, according to Kennedy.

“The Diocese of Manchester has serious concerns about these provisions, as our childcare centers are imperative to enabling many families to work, including many low-income parents or guardians providing for their families,” Kennedy said.

Churches and religious organizations provide a disproportionate amount of low-cost daycare for low-income families. As Mulligan points out, “churches and other faith-based institutions have a natural cost advantage in child care because church facilities would otherwise sit unused on weekdays, when the demand for care is greatest. Build Back Better would squander this advantage by financing capacity expansions only at nonreligious competitors.”

More than half of American families using pre-kindergarten and early child care services get their care through a religious-based organization or providers.