inside sources print logo
Get up to date New Hampshire news in your inbox

AG Formella Joins Effort to Hold Airlines Accountable

New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella is joining 37 other state attorneys general in calling on Congress to give states the ability to hold airlines accountable when traveler complaints skyrocket. 

“From oversold flights to operational disruptions, too often we see airlines shifting their problems onto their passengers,” Formella said Wednesday.

Formella is part of a bipartisan group of attorneys general who signed a letter asking for the ability to enforce state and federal consular protection laws against airlines. The letter went to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). 

Currently, the United States Department of Transportation is responsible for handling airline complaints, but according to the letter from the attorneys general, the DOT is failing to protect the average airline customer.

Airlines should take notice that we expect the U.S. air travel system to provide safe, accessible, affordable, and reliable service to all travelers and the federal government should give attorneys general the authority to vigorously investigate and prosecute violations of the law that impact consumers. Customers should not have to deal with issues like delayed airline refunds, baggage fee charges for luggage that is not delivered at the end of a flight, or extra charges for parents to sit with their young children on a plane,” Formella said.

The letter states problems with airlines have been getting worse since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Formella as well as his colleagues have been flooded with complaints.

While he is not mentioned, Biden’s secretary of transportation has been under fire for months over what critics say is his poor management of the airline travel crisis. Buttigieg, who ran for president in 2020 and is considered a likely future candidate, oversees the Department of Transportation (DOT). Over the summer, a group of Democrats including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)  called Buttigieg out for allowing airlines to engage in behavior that was “simply unacceptable.”

According to DOT data, complaints about airlines were up 35 percent in June over May. But the complaints recorded in June of this year are about 270 percent higher than the number of complaints in the June before the pandemic started.

“In June 2022, DOT received 5,862 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 34.9 percent from the 4,344 complaints received in May 2022 and up 269.6 percent from the 1,586 complaints received in pre-pandemic June 2019,” the report states. “For the first six months of 2022, the Department received 28,550 complaints, up 27.8 percent from the 22,336 filed during the first six months of 2021 and more than the entire year of 2019.”

In the first six months of 2022, 24 percent of domestic flights were delayed, and about 3.2 percent were canceled altogether. 

At the same time, airline ticket prices soared 34 percent year over year as inflation took its toll, though they have declined in recent weeks.

Formella was joined by the attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. 

What Did Kuster and Pappas Actually Vote For? Deficit Spending And A Vehicle Mileage Tax.

On Friday night, the media coverage was dominated by the question: “Will she or won’t she?” Would Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) get the votes she needed to pass the “BIF” — the bipartisan infrastructure bill?

Now that it has passed in the House by a 228-206 vote, with 13 Republicans voting in favor and six Democrats voting against it, it’s time for another question:

What the heck did Congress just vote for?

All four members of the New Hampshire delegation voted for the $1.2 trillion spending plan. (Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen voted for it nearly three months ago. It was trapped in the House since.)

Most of the coverage of the “BIF” has focused on the traditional infrastructure spending, including:

— $110 billion in funding for roads, bridges, and major projects;

— $66 billion investment in rail, most of which will go to Amtrak;

— $65 billion for broadband infrastructure and development;

— $7.5 billion for electric vehicle chargers.

That’s certainly the focus of Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas. “Investments in our roads and bridges, water systems, and broadband are critical to our future economic growth and way of life in New Hampshire, and they will help us continue to rebuild our economy and regain our competitiveness following the COVID-19 pandemic,” Pappas said after the vote.

Pappas specifically touted the more than $1.5 billion in the additional road, bridge, and transit spending over the next five years, “representing a 47 percent funding increase in fiscal year 2022 and additional increases in years to come.”

Who could object to a nearly 50 percent jump in spending on roads? And cell phone users who travel the Granite State are likely pleased by the idea that their notoriously spotty service might improve.

But these are the headlines of Friday’s late-night vote. In the fine-print, Granite Staters will find New Hampshire’s delegation also voted for:

More Deficit Spending

Despite repeated assurances from President Joe Biden that infrastructure spending “costs zero dollars,” the BIF  costs more than $1 trillion. What Biden meant, his allies say, is that it won’t cost any borrowed dollars, that Americans can feel good that neither of his infrastructure bills will add to the deficit.

Unfortunately, they’re wrong on that count as well. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published its score of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (as opposed to the much-bigger reconciliation) in August, and they found the legislation would directly add more than $340 billion to the deficit.

A Vehicle Mileage User Fee Pilot Program

SEC. 13002 of the bill is the “National Moter Vehicle Per-Mile User Fee Pilot Program.” The objectives of the program, according to the legislation, are to “test the design, acceptance, implementation, and financial sustainability of a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee” and “address the need for additional revenues for surface transportation infrastructure.”

Critics of the program point to the phrase “additional revenue” as opposed to “replacing revenue.” They say it’s a sign the goal is to add a mileage tax on top of the current gasoline taxes, rather than to replace them. And, they note, a mileage tax takes away one of the few incentives to drive an electric car — namely, lower costs.

Biden’s defenders say it’s just a pilot program and the administration has no (announced) plans to impose such a national fee. The pilot might encourage individual states to pursue it, however. Just as the state of New York has passed a ban on the sale of regular internal-combustion engine cars as of 2035. Every car sold as of that date in New York must be a zero-emissions vehicle.

EV Chargers for Electric Cars That Don’t Exist

Speaking of EVs…

The $7.5 billion Congress just passed for electric vehicle (EV) chargers is, according to the White House, just a down payment on the funding needed to install 500,000 public EV charging stations by 2030.

The question is, who’s going to use them?

First, from a statistical standpoint, virtually nobody owns EVs in the U.S. As climate expert Matthew Lewis recently noted, of the 280 million or so registered cars and trucks in the country, only about 2 million are fully electric. Even if the nation added another 2 million electric vehicles a year — which would be a sales level far beyond anything the nation has seen — there would still be fewer than 15 million EVs on the road — still a tiny fraction of the total.

And then there’s the charger technology. In a recent interview for Emerging Tech, EV expert Brendan Jones, president of Blink Charging, talked about the chargers this tax money will buy:

“Jones said that in a good scenario, it takes about six months for an L2 charger—which need up to 8 hours to fully charge a car and make up 82 percent of public chargers in the U.S.—to go through permitting and get in the ground. Meanwhile, a D.C. fast charger (also known as an L3 charger) takes 60 to 90 minutes to charge a car, but can take considerably longer to build.”

How many drivers can park in a public lot for 8 hours to charge their cars? Or even for 90 minutes?

Advancing The Controversial Reconciliation Spending Bill

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the House cast a straight party-line vote to move Biden’s so-called “Build Back Better” bill forward. It was a key step to get to what Pelosi says will be a vote before Thanksgiving on the legislation itself.

That’s the $4 trillion plan that includes massive social spending and more than half a billion on green energy policy. In the new Suffolk University poll for USA Today released Sunday, Americans are split on this bill, with just 47 supporting it and 44 percent in opposition. And only one in four Americans says they believe it will help them and their families.

Which brings up perhaps the most relevant fact about the votes cast for the infrastructure bill by New Hampshire’s congressional delegation: They didn’t address the issues Americans care about most.

Inflation. Bare store shelves. A lack of workers. The lingering impacts of COVID on daily lives, particularly on schools and children. Those are the things voters said last week brought them to the polls. Notably absent: Road and bridge construction, train travel, or the Green New Deal.

Even if Americans were in the mood to add billions to the national debt, there isn’t much information to show Americans would want to borrow this much money for EV chargers and Amtrack trains.

It’s Official: Pelosi Goes from 0-9 to 2-0 With New Hampshire Democrats

During the early days of the New Hampshire First District Democratic primary, none of the (at least) nine congressional candidates would commit to supporting former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s return to power if, as expected, their party took control of the chamber.

Eventually, just one of the candidates, state rep. Mark MacKenzie, would publicly endorse Pelosi for speaker before the primary vote.

He came in eighth. 

The eventual nominee, Democrat Chris Pappas, then spent the entire general election dodging the issue in his campaign against Republican Eddie Edwards.  Pappas won handily on November 6th, but weeks later still refused to reveal his intentions regarding the leader of his caucus.

Until today.

This morning, Pappas finally announced what many NH pundits suspected was true throughout his campaign: #HesWithHer. He will join his fellow New Hampshire Rep. Annie Kuster and vote for a return to the Pelosi era.

“After careful consideration and discussion with many constituents and future colleagues in Congress, I have decided to support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House,” Pappas said in a statement released today.   “I believe she is best equipped to lead the House at this point in our history.

“My conversations with her convinced me she will lead with fairness and empower the incoming class to play a significant role in the work ahead. We must get down to doing the people’s business quickly, and we should start by reforming the way Washington works, lowering the cost of health care and creating an economy that allows everyone to succeed.”

“I will work with anyone, anywhere to do what’s right for the New Hampshire district I represent, and I will stand up to anyone—from President Trump to leaders in Congress—when they’re wrong.”

Despite the fact that the movement to stop a Pelosi speakership has been led by his fellow centrists in the party, a low-key moderate like Chris Pappas was always an unlikely rebel. In the primary, he ran against a field of strong women candidates for the chance to replace a Congresswoman, Carol Shea-Porter, in a state that currently has an entirely female federal delegation.

A vote against the first-ever woman Speaker–or any powerful woman, for that matter–was never in the cards.

Pelosi Picks Up A Vote In NH-01, Brings Her Total To….One

Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has ended her drought in New Hampshire’s First Congressional District. As reported here at NHJournal, for weeks not a single one of the eleven (count ’em, 11!) Democratic candidates in the primary would commit on the record to supporting Pelosi for Speaker of the House.

Not anymore! Thursday night at a candidate event hosted by the Hampton, NH Democrats, one of the candidates came out of the Pelosi closet.  Meet N.H. State Representative and candidate for Congress, Mark MacKenzie, who issued this statement to NHJournal:

Nancy Pelosi has served with distinction in the United State Congress for over 30 years. She was the first woman in US history to be elected as the Speaker. She has supported countless Democrats in this country helping them get elected.  The role Representative Pelosi will play in the future will be decided by the new Congress. Nancy Pelosi deserves the respect of this nation for her faithful service to this country.  My focus is on getting elected to represent the first CD and this is where my attention is focused.

So there you go, Ms. Former Speaker–you’ve got a supporter!  Interestingly, none of the three women running in the Democratic primary have endorsed Pelosi for Speaker. One of them, Rep. Mindi Messmer, has said explicitly that it’s time for Democrats to make a change.

Watch for yourself courtesy of the twitter feed of intrepid NH political reporter Paul Steinhauser:




No Love for Nancy Pelosi Even in Liberal Northeast

Former–and possibly future–Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has already become an issue in New Hampshire’s midterm elections. And not in a good way.

As reported at NHJournal, of the nine Democrats seeking their party’s nomination in the First Congressional District primary, the number who have committed to supporting Pelosi for speaker is…zero.  As it turns out, they may be on to something.

A new Morning Consult/Politico poll finds that both among Democrats nationally and voters in the liberal Northeast, Rep. Pelosi (D-CA) is surprisingly unpopular. When asked “In thinking about the 2018 midterm elections in Congress, would an endorsement from each of the following make you more or less likely to vote for a candidate?” an astonishing 49 percent of Hillary Clinton supporters said an endorsement from Pelosi would made them less likely to support a candidate. Only 38 percent said it would make them more likely.

More locally, 58 percent of registered voters in the deep-blue Northeast would be less likely to support Pelosi-backed candidates.

Morning Consult also reports another disturbing trend for Democrats:  Trump voters are more motivated to vote in the November midterms than Hillary Clinton voters, 68 to 58 percent.  More broadly, they report 84% of Republicans describe themselves as motivated, while 80 percent of Democrats say the same.

One glimmer of good news for Democrats in New Hampshire and beyond:

The poll also shows Democrats leading on the generic congressional ballot by 5 percentage points, 43 percent to 38 percent. That is slightly closer than Democrats’ 7-point lead in last week’s poll, 42 percent to 35 percent.