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NH Opioid Deaths Rise as Security at Southern Border Collapses

Global Medical Response released its November numbers for opioid overdoses and deaths on Monday. It reported a 30 percent increase in opioid-related overdose deaths in Nashua and Manchester so far this year, and a total of 112 opioid-related overdose deaths according to GMR’s Christopher Stawasz.

Those overdoses and deaths are directly related to the flow of fentanyl across the border from Mexico and making its way to the Granite State.

But just hours after the GMR report, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre insisted criticism of the Biden administration’s border policy is exaggerated.

“It would be wrong to think that the border is open. It is not open,” said Jean-Pierre said. 

Border security advocates and elected officials don’t agree.

Illegal border crossings have skyrocketed in recent years, jumping from 405,000 in fiscal year 2020 to 1.6 million in 2021. In fiscal year 2022, which ended in October, the figure spiked again to more than 2.2 million. 

And with that record flood of migration comes drug trafficking and other crimes, said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the conservative Center for Immigration Studies.

“The tragic spike in deaths from fentanyl and other dangerous illicit drugs is a direct result of the Biden administration’s failure to control the border and to enforce immigration laws in the interior, which makes the deadly drug trafficking business way too easy and profitable for the cartels and all their operatives and subsidiaries,” Vaughan said. “Because the Border Patrol is so tied up with processing and with care and feeding of the thousands of illegal migrants taking advantage of the catch and release policies, there are no agents on the line to prevent the drug traffickers from getting their product over the unguarded areas.”

Chinese organized crime syndicates, working with Mexican cartels, ship precursor drugs to Mexico where fentanyl and methamphetamines are manufactured. Those deadly drugs are then smuggled over the southern border and then flow freely throughout the United States.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, Chinese syndicates are mostly responsible for illicit drugs obtained through online markets and sent through the mail to the United States, while the Mexican cartels are manufacturing hub for drugs that get smuggled into the U.S. India is emerging as a new source for fentanyl that gets smuggled into China and then sold into America according to an unclassified DEA report.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu scoffs at the Biden administration’s claims they have got the situation under control.

“Yes, the governor believes the nationwide surge in drug deaths is a direct result of fentanyl coming across the southern border,” said his spokesperson Ben Vihstadt. “The unfettered movement of these drugs has created more of a ‘cartel driven’ market than ever before. It’s not just over-prescribing or user demand. The cartels are now putting fentanyl in a variety of other substances to drive their market of addiction.”

Even the Biden administration believes the problem is likely to get worse with the court-ordered end of the Title 42 border policies put in place by President Donald Trump during the COVID-19 pandemic. A DHS memo obtained by CNN warned the end of Title 42 will “likely increase migration flows immediately into the U.S.,” and they predict 14,000 unauthorized migrants crossing into the country each day.

On Monday, Jean-Pierre appeared to suggest the Biden administration opposed ending Title 42 and blamed the policy shift on the courts. “What I am telling you is that it was a court order that was — that we are following. And we’re going to follow the law when it comes to what the court has decided to do.”

But President Biden announced on April 1 he planned to end the policy on May 23. The courts prevented the administration from doing so until now.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has issued a temporary halt to ending the policy.

During their reelection bids last month, both Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas said they opposed the Biden plan to end Title 42 and wanted the administration to continue turning away would-be migrants. Sununu agrees.

“The governor believes the Biden administration must do everything in its power to extend Title 42 and secure the border and is pleased the Supreme Court just this evening halted Title 42 from expiring,” Vihstadt said.

Vaughan said the fentanyl crisis will get worse until the Biden team gets serious about securing the border.

“There is little to inhibit the flow of this illegal poison into communities – the product and the people who distribute it are able to do so with impunity,” Vaughan said. “But if we could regain control of the border and deport the criminals who are trafficking the drugs here, authorities could begin to clean up the streets.”

Don’t Run, Joe! Progressives Anti-Biden Campaign Comes to Granite State

Hours after their party defied political history and won a sweeping midterm victory in the Granite State, New Hampshire Democrats started getting a new message on their phones.

Dump Joe Biden.

Texts from the Don’t Run Joe campaign started hitting New Hampshire numbers before all the votes were even counted, urging local Democrats to sign a petition asking Biden to not run for president in 2024.

“It’s up to NH Democrats to choose a bold leader who can defeat the fascistic Republican Party and help other Dems win,” one of the texts reads.

The effort is being led by the progressive group RootsAction, which spent 2020 working to convince leftwing voters to back Biden’s White House bid. Now, they say it is time for Democrats to embrace a true progressive.

“Unfortunately, President Biden has been neither bold nor inspiring,” the organization said in a statement. “And his prospects for winning re-election appear to be bleak. With so much at stake, making him the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer in 2024 would be a tragic mistake.”

The effort to push Biden out has been in the works for months. Norman Solomon, a co-founder of RootsAction, told The Hill.TV said in July voters want Biden to “get out of the way” so a more progressive candidate can take his place.

“That opens up the possibility of a progressive nominee,” Solomon said. “That’s where our future is, to get a logjam named President Biden out of the way for 2024.”

It’s not the first time the leftwing of the party has targeted an incumbent president.

“Our immediate goal within the Democratic Party is to ‘dump Biden,’ much as the anti-Vietnam-War forces among Democrats set out to ‘dump Johnson’ in 1967, which led antiwar candidates Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy to enter the race,” according to their website.

Kicking Biden to the curb might seem outlandish but targeting Democratic activists in the First-in-the-Nation (#FITN) primary state makes sense if the goal is to lay the groundwork for a potential challenge. And, strategists say, given Biden’s age and health challenges, it is possible there could be an open primary regardless of the president’s plans.

At least one New Hampshire Democrat is publicly onboard. Outgoing state Rep. Sherry Frost (D-Dover) said in a statement she has lost confidence in Biden and wants a new candidate to lead the party.

“I am eager to support a candidate who understands the fatal dysfunction in our economy and is willing to hold the ultra-wealthy individuals and corporations to their obligations,” Frost said. “I am not confident that Biden is that candidate, and while I appreciate his rescuing us from another Trump term, I believe we need someone else to champion the big and systemic changes we need to continue to strive toward our more perfect union.”

However, progressive activist Gale Toale Taylor said on Twitter she wants the “Don’t Run Joe” campaign to stop.

“What the heck is this ‘Don’t Run Joe’ campaign? I got a text from Jon, a volunteer with ‘Don’t Run Joe’ asking me if I would prefer a candidate other than Joe Biden. My answer: STOP! Go Away! Our president is obviously doing what is best for us all,” Toale Taylor wrote.

Before last week’s midterms, Biden’s future was viewed as shaky at best. His approval ratings have been underwater for more than a year as the country struggles with record-high inflation and out-of-control energy costs. A September ABC News/Washington Post poll even found 35 percent of Democrats wanted a new candidate for the 2024 presidential election. A recent Reuters survey found Biden stuck with a 57 percent disapproval rating.

That may have changed somewhat after Biden scored a short-lived victory by canceling student loan debt, only for it to be overturned by the courts. He also pushed through trillions in spending and marijuana reform.

Still, Biden has long been dogged from his left, and RootsAction represents progressives who back candidates like socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

RootsAction was founded in 2011 by Solomon and Jeff Cohen, both progressive activists and journalists. The organization is in opposition to the Republican Party, as well as the mainstream Democratic Party represented by Biden, who is considered too centrist for the group.

“Our country faces an increasingly extremist Republican Party that is largely a subsidiary of corporate America, and a Democratic Party whose leadership is enmeshed with and compromised by corporate power,” RootsAction said on its website.

Experts Raise Concerns of Heating Oil Rationing in New England Amid Supply Shortage

In the worst-case scenario, some Granite Staters could run out of heating oil or electricity this winter as the nation grapples with the current energy crisis, experts warn.

ISO New England, the region’s power grid operator, warned last week the tight supply of natural gas could result in rolling blackouts this winter if the weather turns unusually cold.

“The most challenging aspect of this winter is what’s happening around the world and the extreme volatility in the markets,” said Vamsi Chadalavada, chief operating officer for ISO New England. “If you are in the commercial sector, at what point do you buy fuel?”

Then came a Bloomberg report that New England heating oil suppliers are already seeing supply rationing before the winter heating season starts as supply runs short free to high wholesale prices.

“The facts are this, supplies of heating oil are historically low,” said Michael Ferrante with the Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association.

New England heating oil suppliers are trying to hedge their bets, Ferrante explained. The wholesale market is anticipating higher prices through the next few months at least with prices possibly dropping in early spring. The suppliers are responding by not buying extra oil at the current high prices.

“They’re buying ‘just in time’ inventory, just enough to meet the needs right now,” Ferrante said. But what happens if there is a surge in demand during another blast of brutal arctic cold like in 2018

“During the two weeks of Arctic cold, New England generators burned through about 2 million barrels of oil,” noted ISO New England CEO Gordon van Welie in an after-action report. “That’s about 84 million gallons, more than twice as much as all the oil used by New England power plants during the entire year of 2016.”

If there is a surge in demand, larger oil distributors would have more access to the limited supply. But what about small heating oil suppliers around New Hampshire, the one-truck operators? Ferrante conceded they might get left out in the cold.

“The smaller companies might have a more difficult time finding supply,” Ferrante said.

The current average cost of heating oil in New Hampshire is more than $5.60 per gallon. That is expected to climb higher as the weather turns colder in the coming months. With smaller suppliers frozen out of the market, Granite Staters will have a tougher time keeping their homes warm.

Spikes in the cost of natural gas, which provides the fuel for much of New England’s electric grid, have already resulted in the doubling of electricity rates for New Hampshire ratepayers. Those same ratepayers face the prospect of shelling out double for electricity and not being able to buy oil for their furnaces.

Karoline Leavitt, the GOP congressional candidate running neck and neck with incumbent Democrat Rep. Chris Pappas, blames President Joe Biden’s administration for sky-high energy costs.

“As if the $600 being stolen from families every month because of inflation wasn’t bad enough, we are all living a nightmare as we watch our energy bills soar as the weather gets colder,” Leavitt said. “We were informed that this would happen months ago. And rather than develop a solution to solve this crisis, Chris Pappas continued to vote with Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden 100 percent of the time, exacerbating this problem to its breaking point. With families being forced to decide between heating and eating, we cannot afford another term of Chris Pappas’ partisan leadership that leaves Granite Staters hanging out to dry.”

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc sees a lack of leadership.

“Less than two years into the Biden presidency, we’re having discussions about rationing here in the United States of America. New Hampshire is facing a major energy crisis all due to Sen. Maggie Hassan and President Biden’s failed leadership. Not only are Granite Staters having to choose between heating and eating, but they also now must worry about energy shortages that could leave them out in the cold with no way to heat their homes. Sen. Hassan has failed New Hampshire,” said campaign spokeswoman Kate Constantini.

Both Hassan and Pappas had been pushing Biden to release more oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Though Biden announced last week he was putting more of the nation’s stockpile on the market, it is unlikely to be enough to counter the high energy prices caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine and the decision by Saudi Arabia to pump less oil to raise prices.

“It’s a short-term Band-Aid, and it doesn’t solve the long-term problem,” said Phil Flynn, an energy market analyst with the PRICE Futures Group.

Ferrante said there is no relief coming in the short term, as the war in Ukraine continues driving the energy market in Europe and beyond.

“There are no guarantees it will get better. It’s a global economy,” Ferrante said. “Prices of crude oil are affected by what’s happening around the world.”

Skeptical About NH’s Election Integrity? NHSOS Scanlan Has A Solution.

During the First Congressional District debate on the Jack Heath radio show Tuesday, Republican Karoline Leavitt flatly said she did not trust the results of the 2020 elections, nationally or here in New Hampshire.

“I continue to be the only candidate in this race to say the 2020 election was absolutely stolen and there is no way Joe Biden legitimately won 81 million votes. That is a preposterous claim.”

And, Leavitt later added, the reason the state has Republican control at the state level but an entirely Democratic federal delegation “is because of our poor election integrity laws at the state level. We allow non-citizens of our state to vote in our elections.”

Most Granite Staters don’t agree with Leavitt’s claims regarding the 2020 election — 84 percent told the UNH Survey Center poll in July they are confident in the election process — but New Hampshire’s Secretary of State David Scanlan says there is a simple way for people skeptical about New Hampshire’s voting system to lay their concerns to rest.

“I would suggest people who are expressing doubts volunteer as poll workers,” Scanlan said.

Scanlan and his elections team are in the midst of a massive training effort to get 1,200 to 1,500 New Hampshire elections officials ready for the coming voting season. The primary vote is set for Sept. 13, and the midterms follow in November.

Asked by NH Journal about political candidates currently expressing doubt about the outcome of the 2020 election, Scanlan said the whole voting process is transparent and easy for anyone to observe.

“Any voter or citizen of New Hampshire who has questions about the election process should spend some time observing that process. It’s transparent from start to finish,” Scanlan said. “It’s all public activity done in the open with many checks and balances done at the polling place.”

There has never been any credible evidence of voter fraud in New Hampshire, but that has not stopped political candidates like Leavitt, Tim Baxter, and Don Bolduc from questioning the results of the 2020 election.

Baxter’s argument rests on the conspiracy theories laid out in the movie “2,000 Mules.” In fact, none of the First District GOP candidates were willing to say that former President Donald Trump lost the election during the NHJournal debate on August 4.

Bolduc, the frontrunner in the GOP race to take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, even signed an open letter this year questioning the 2020 election results.

“The FBI and Supreme Court must act swiftly when election irregularities are surfaced and not ignore them as was done in 2020,” the letter reads in part.

The 2020 election did see some glitches in the Granite State. For example, the months-long controversy in Bedford surrounding the 190 ballots that were never counted resulted in the secretary of state deciding the town will have a state-appointed official to oversee the September primary.

“As a result of the concerns and shortcomings described in this and our prior correspondences, the Attorney General makes a finding that the November 2020 General Election returns from Bedford had significant deficiencies,” Myles Matteson of the state Attorney General’s Election Law Unit wrote to Bedford town officials. “The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General, will be appointing an election monitor for the next election, the September 13, 2022, primary election.”

Scanlan wants to avoid any similar problems in the coming elections. The training for election officials will help the local moderators, ballot clerks, and selectmen understand election laws and get up to speed on any changes to the law from the last election.

The 2020 election saw polling stations swamped with absentee ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Scanlan said there is unlikely to be a repeat of that issue this year. The training sessions are not mandatory, Scanlan said, but strongly encouraged.

In NH-02 Primary Debate, GOP Candidates Clash on Immigration, Abortion

The three Republican candidates vying to take on Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster this fall clashed over immigration and abortion Monday night during the New Hampshire Journal debate at Saint Anselm’s New Hampshire Institute for Politics. 

Bob Burns, the “pro-Trump” candidate from Pembroke, spent most of the night on offense. He attacked his opponents, Weare’s Lily Tang Williams and Keene Mayor George Hansel, over their stances on illegal immigration. 

Burns accused Tang Williams of supporting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and called out “Woke George’s sanctuary city, Keene.”

“So, you’re lying again, Bob, as usual,” Hansel responded. “Keene is not a sanctuary city.”

Hansel said Keene’s police chief assured him the department will cooperate with federal agents when enforcing immigration laws, as opposed to the policies in actual sanctuary cities where police do not assist federal immigration agents.

Tang Williams also accused Burns of lying about her record. She supports a pathway to citizenship for people who qualify for the DACA program, those brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children and who were raised in America. However, she said she does not support a pathway for people who came illegally as adults.

“Bob’s campaign has been attacking me from the very beginning,” Tang Williams said. “Who needs Democrats when you have Republicans attacking you?”

They also differ on abortion considering the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs case. Burns said if elected he will push for a federal heartbeat bill that would limit abortions nationally.

“Instead of codifying Roe v. Wade, we should be codifying life,” Burns said.

Tang Williams supports the recent Supreme Court ruling to send the question of abortion back to the states, allowing local voters to make their own decision. Tang Williams does not support any new federal law regulating or banning abortion, saying the matter needs to be left to the people in each state.

“It should always belong to the states to let local people decide it,” she said.

Hansel, who is pro-choice, agrees with the Dobbs ruling, saying it allows states to craft laws that make sense for their own people. He does not support any federal law regarding abortion.

“This is an issue that is firmly with the states, which is where it belongs,” Hansel said. “This is a contentious issue, and the decisions belong as close to the people as possible.”

Hansel said voters are very concerned about record levels of inflation and soaring energy prices, issues where President Joe Biden’s administration has failed and they are not up for fighting more culture war battles.

“It’s all about inflation, it’s all about the higher costs that people are paying here in New Hampshire because of Joe Biden and Ann Kuster’s reckless Washington agenda,” Hansel said.

Both Tang Williams and Burns sent out press releases Monday night claiming victory in the debate.

The full debate, hosted by NH Journal, is available for streaming online at NH Journal’s Facebook page.

 

If High Prices Are Gas Station ‘Gouging,’ Why Are Costs Going Down Now?

Gasoline prices have soared since President Joe Biden took office, setting new records with an average national price above $5 a gallon. Biden and his fellow Democrats, including Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Annie Kuster, blame oil companies and retailers for “price gouging.”

While gas still costs twice as much as it did when Biden was sworn in, the price has been steadily falling for a month. The New Hampshire average on July 17 was $4.55 and the national average was $4.53. Some stations are selling gas below $4 a gallon for the first time since February 2022.

Did Biden’s bullying work? Or has the supply of gasoline recently surged? What is behind the declining prices?

“Honestly, I can’t figure it out,” said Phil Abirached, owner of the Metro Mart Exxon gas station and convenience store in Derry. “I just dropped it another 30 cents a gallon to $4.29, today,” Abirached said on Friday. “It’s mind-blowing. I don’t know why it’s going down 10 cents to 20 cents every day.”

While gas prices are now falling sharply in New Hampshire and across the country, it does not seem to be because of Biden. For example, his recent fist-bumping trip to Saudi Arabia failed to get the oil-rich nation to significantly increase its oil production

The reason the price of unleaded gasoline has come down from a high of more than $5 a gallon a month ago to around $4.50 throughout the state is basic economics, experts say: Less demand today, and fears of a recession tomorrow.

“It’s changing, because people are driving less, that’s the big reason behind it,” said John Dumas, former president and CEO of the New Hampshire Grocers Association. “It’s supply and demand, that’s really all it is.”

Chris Ellms, New Hampshire’s Deputy Energy Commissioner, said there is now about as much refined gasoline available for the market as before prices soared. The falling prices are mostly tied to supply and demand.

“No national energy policy changes have led to the decreases we’ve seen recently, not for natural gas or oil production,” he said.

Global issues like the war in Ukraine, higher interest rates, and a stronger dollar, are all factors. But the available gas supply is largely unchanged. When consumption slows down, so do prices.

“A lot of the issues we have been seeing are related to a big spike in demand coming out of the COVID pandemic,” Ellms said. “There was a lot of demand without a corresponding rise in the supply. It’s really a supply and demand connection.”

It was certainly not local gas stations artificially raising prices, despite Biden’s claims. Most gas stations in New Hampshire are small, locally-owned businesses like Abirached’s store in Derry. Far from pushing higher prices, according to Jeff Lenard at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), higher gas prices drive down local businesses’ profits. That is because stations cut into their own profits in an attempt to soften the price-hike blow.

And gasoline has never been the primary profit center for these businesses.

“Convenience stores, which sell an estimated 80 percent of the fuel purchased in the U.S., rely on in-store sales, not fuel sales, to drive profits,” according to a statement from the NACS. “But high gas prices are hurting customer traffic in stores and ‘basket’ size: Nearly half of all retailers (49 percent) say that customers coming inside the store are buying less compared to three months ago when gas prices were $1.50 a gallon lower.”

And yet New Hampshire elected officials continue to point the finger at the petroleum industry and local retailers. Both U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas are still pushing a so-called “anti-price-gouging” bill that would allow the federal government to declare an energy emergency and set prices for fuel.

Multiple investigations by both Republican and Democratic administrations have found no evidence of widespread price fixing for gasoline.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports economists fear another gas price spike could be coming this fall.

“Economists across the ideological spectrum warn that the measures the White House is promoting— allowing Russian oil into the global market at reduced prices, taxing oil company “windfall” profits, cutting the federal gas tax—could ultimately aggravate the energy crunch in the United States rather than ease it,” the paper reported. And, it said, when the most serious sanctions on Russian oil take effect later this year, the price of gasoline could surge above $6 a gallon.

Could the U.S. offset the impact by adding to global supplies? According to Reuters, the U.S. does not have the capacity to increase the supply by drilling more oil and gas.

“Capacity for U.S. oil refiners fell in 2021 for the second year in a row, the most recent government data showed (last month), as plant shutdowns kept whittling away on their ability to produce gasoline and diesel,” the news agency reports.

In the end, the price at the pump both reflects and influences the overall economy. Abirached said.

“We all became very aware of where we’re going and where [the economy] is heading. People are asking if it’s worth even turning the car on.”

Amid Shortages, Hassan Pushes Debunked ‘Big Tampon’ Theory

First “Big Pharma.” Then “Big Oil.” Now…”Big Tampon?”

On Monday, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan sent a press release headlined, “Following Reports of Tampon Shortage, Senator Hassan Calls on Major Tampon Producers to Increase Supply.” It’s part of her “work to hold corporations accountable for unfair price increases and address shortages.”

Except, like her allegations about oil companies manipulating gas prices, Hassan’s claim of price-gouging by the feminine hygiene industry is unfounded.

“Access to menstrual products should be treated like every other essential good. At the beginning of the pandemic, price gouging of essentials like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizer was rightly criticized as an exploitation of an emergency for financial gain. Menstrual products should receive that same consideration,” Hassan wrote in a letter to the CEOs of Procter & Gamble, Edgewell Personal Care, Kimberly-Clark, and Johnson & Johnson.

Hassan’s accusation of “unfair price increases” does not appear to be supported by the facts. Instead, “supply chain issues and historically high inflation have affected all manner of goods,” Axios reports, including tampons. COVID drove up demand for plastic and cotton to make personal protective equipment, both key materials for making feminine hygiene products.

And, like much of the shortages seen over the past couple of years, COVID-related supply chain issues are having an impact as well. Shipping costs to move material and products have also gone up as diesel fuel prices continue to climb. Add to that the ongoing labor shortage many companies are experiencing.

Then there is the impact of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, constraining the normal supply of fertilizer used to grow cotton, further exacerbating supply issues. The price of raw cotton is up more than 70 percent.

And there is another twist Hassan doesn’t mention: Amy Schumer.

Procter and Gamble spokeswoman Cheri McMaster told Time that part of the blame belongs to comic Amy Schumer. She stars in a series of commercials for their products that have been wildly successful. “(R)etail sales growth has exploded,” McMaster told Time.

As the demand went up more than 7 percent, Procter and Gamble started running its Maine plant 24/7 to try and keep up. The industry says it is looking for ways to increase production.

“While the tampon shortage is part of a larger supply chain issue, price-gouging essential products is an unacceptable response,” Hassan said — without providing any effort of gouging.

“We understand it is frustrating for consumers when they can’t find what they need,” a P&G spokesperson told CNN. “We can assure you this is a temporary situation.”

In her tampon shortage press release, Hassan also pointed out she “led legislation to require a federal investigation into reports that Big Oil was artificially raising gas prices, and follows Senator Hassan’s previous calls for additional actions and updates regarding the FTC’s oversight of anti-consumer trade practices in the oil and gas industry.”

Hassan’s claim that oil companies have manipulated gas prices has been repeatedly investigated and dismissed by both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Political observers say what’s really at play is giving Hassan another way to motivate women voters, particularly young women who tend to vote Democrat and also tend not to show up in midterm elections. Hassan had campaigned aggressively on the abortion issue, which she refers to as a “women’s health” issue, advocating abortion without limits up to the time of birth.

Interestingly, one word that doesn’t appear anywhere in Hassan’s “tampon shortage” letter or press release?

“Women.”

(To be fair, the progressive phrase “people who menstruate” didn’t appear, either.)

Hassan said she is giving the CEOs of personal hygiene manufacturers until June 17 to come up with a solution.

Voters are giving Hassan until Election Day.

REPORT: Granite State’s Economy Fifth Best in Nation

New Hampshire has one of the strongest state economies in the country, with high rates of high-tech jobs, low unemployment, and a GDP growth rate that outperforms California, according to a new data analysis from WalletHub. 

The report, which looked at how each state’s economy has fared since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic recession, ranks the Granite State as the fifth-best economy in America, behind Washington state, Utah, California, and Massachusetts.

New Hampshire easily outperforms the remaining New England states, with Connecticut coming in at 25, Rhode Island at 36, Vermont at 41, and Maine trailing at number 44.

However, according to experts, New Hampshire could be headed toward a recession as runaway inflation continues to drive up the price of energy, housing, and other needs.

New Hampshire comes in second, behind Tennessee and ahead of California, when it comes to positive change in gross domestic product or GDP. It is tied for first with Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, and Minnesota for the lowest unemployment rate. It is fifth when it comes to having the highest number of immigrants with advanced educations, and is fourth in the percentage of high-tech jobs.

Gov. Chris Sununu said the overall picture is good, but warned there are negative forces outside New Hampshire’s control that could be a problem.

“We’ve taken steps over these last few years to ensure that New Hampshire’s economy remains strong,” Sununu said. “But given Washington’s inaction in combating inflation and out-of-control spending, an economic downturn is on the horizon, and we are doing everything we can at the state level to minimize the impact on our citizens.” 

One expert interviewed by WalletHub, Robert Wyllie, Assistant Professor of Political Science ad Director of Political Economy Program at Ashland University in Ohio, said the country as a whole should be concerned about a potential recession and inflation getting worse. He said we could see a return to the 1970s.

“High inflation, fueled in part by high energy prices, combined with slow growth points has drawn many comparisons to the 1970s,” Wyllie said.

A recent University of New Hampshire Carsey School of Public Policy report warned of a stagnating economy. New Hampshire’s economy needs state and federal leaders to address roadblocks that come up as the world economy tries to move past COVID.

“As the state, nation, and world hopefully emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic carnage it created, New Hampshire is, to some extent, subject to economic forces beyond its control,” the report states.

The state’s many long-term challenges include the housing shortage, the shrinking labor force, the need for childcare, and infrastructure investments.

“New Hampshire has many economic advantages that position it well as it seeks to address the challenges of wage stagnation, childcare shortages, educational inequity, an aging workforce, housing affordability, struggling families, and C- infrastructure,” the UNH report states. “It has a strong and diverse economic base from which to grow, and its workforce is well-educated. With foresight and will, New Hampshire can chart a course to a productive, prosperous economy that addresses these challenges and enhances the well-being of all who live here.”

However, New Hampshire has also repeatedly been ranked near the top of the “Freedom Index” by multiple sources, due to its low tax and low regulation environment. And that could be both a reason its economy is overperforming today and has a brighter future tomorrow.

In the Wallethub report, Vincent Gloss, assistant professor of economics at George Mason University argued that “economic freedom (i.e. lower regulation, lower taxes and lower spending, safer property rights) does not only minimize downturns associated with exogenous shocks such as a pandemic, but it also accelerates recovery. Governments should look at policies that allow firms and families more flexibility in their decisions and that means stepping back.”

Keene’s Hansel Creates Committee for NH-02 Run, Hit With Twitter ‘Dirty Trick’

Keene Mayor George Hansel has yet to announce his candidacy in New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District race, and he has already been targeted by a political dirty trick.

The Keene Sentinel ran a story on Sunday declaring, “Keene Mayor George Hansel announces run for Congress.” It was based on “a tweet from his new campaign account.” The paper did not speak to Hansel.

Less than 24 hours later, the Sentinel pulled the report and posted a correction: “A story written by The Sentinel and posted on our website Sunday evening claiming that Keene Mayor George Hansel would be running for the N.H. Congressional District 2 seat, currently held by longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, has been removed.”

The account, @Hansel4Congress, became active in just the past few days and it followed news outlets like NHJournal. Its few posts featured anti-Trump and pro-abortion messages likely to hurt a candidate’s efforts in a Republican primary, a sign that it was a political dirty trick. Sources familiar with the account tell NHJournal it was created by a Republican who opposes a Hansel candidacy.

On Monday, the account had been suspended by Twitter.

Hansel’s actual Twitter account had no mention of a potential congressional bid as of Monday afternoon. However, the Federal Election Commission reports the “George Hansel for Congress” committee was formally created on Friday, May 27. The treasurer is listed as David Hansel.

Republican insiders have been buzzing for weeks about the possibility Hansel might challenge Democrat Kuster, particularly since businessman Jeff Cozzens dropped out of the GOP primary in April. With polls showing President Joe Biden’s approval rating below 40 percent — and Kuster not doing much better — Republicans believe a 2022 wave could be big enough to bring down the five-term incumbent, despite her $2.4 million war chest.

After the GOP’s surprising successes in the 2021 election cycle, the National Republican Congressional Committee put Kuster on its expanded target list.

Hansel did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the FEC filing. He was first elected mayor of Keene in 2019 and had easy re-election in November, facing no serious challengers. Before becoming mayor of the left-leaning college community, Hansel was a two-term city councilor. He is currently vice president and manager of innovation/engineering and Keene’s Filtrine Manufacturing Company, a business founded by his uncle, Peter Hansel.

Because the lines of New Hampshire’s new congressional districts have yet to be finalized for November’s election, political analysts at organizations like the Cook Political Report have not released their view of the Second District’s midterm prospects. No Republican presidential candidate has won in the district this century, and the last Republican to represent the district was Rep. Charlie Bass, who won in the 2010 red wave midterm.

Hansel positioned himself as fiscally responsible in his first term as mayor. He pushed for an economic development action plan for the city and the creation of a home weatherization/renovation program for Keene’s eastside homes through a public/private partnership, according to his campaign. He also lobbied for the adoption of RSA 79E that allows Keene businesses to take advantage of New Hampshire’s development incentives.

He has also supported the Black Lives Matter movement and maintained a local mask mandate after the state order expired — positions likely to be problematic in a GOP primary.

Already in the race are Bob Burns and Lily Tang Williams.

 

Hassan’s First TV Ad Targets Biden, Fellow Dems Over Gas Prices

A candidate in the U.S. Senate race is out with a new ad promising to take on President Joe Biden and her fellow Democrats to lower gas prices for the average American.

No, it is not another Republican entering the crowded GOP primary, but endangered incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. Fresh off her poorly-received trip to the southern border where she was criticized for calling for more wall construction, Hassan’s new ad distances the first-term incumbent from her party and president.

“I’m taking on members of my own party to push a gas tax holiday,” Hassan says in the ad out Monday. “And I’m pushing Joe Biden to release more of our oil reserves. That’s how we lower costs and get through these times.”

Hassan’s ad is getting noticed by national political reporters who see it as another signal Democrats in competitive races will be running away from Biden as the midterms approach.

“We’ve seen plenty of ads from Republicans this election cycle seeking to pin blame on Biden and congressional Democrats for higher gas prices,” writes The Washington Post. “In a new ad from New Hampshire, Sen. Maggie Hassan, a vulnerable Democrat, has now embraced the issue, too.”

“New ad for Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who continues to distance herself from Biden ahead of November,” tweeted Natalie Allison of Politico.

And in an article headlined, “This ad tells you a whole lot about Joe Biden’s political problems,” CNN’s Chris Cillizza said notes Hassan is willing to be openly critical of the sitting president.

“[Hassan’s] message is unmistakable,” Cillizza wrote.

“1) Gas prices are a major problem in the country.
2) Biden and Democratic leaders aren’t doing enough to solve it.
3) Hassan isn’t afraid to tell her party — and her President — that they need to do better.”

Not every New Hampshire Democrat is delighted by Hassan’s campaign tactics.

“Maggie is going to lose her base if she tries to separate herself from Biden by running to his right,” tweeted state Rep. Eric Gallager (D-Concord) “Biden has been doing a much better job than she has. This has been seen most recently on Title 42 where Biden was on the right side of it, and Maggie was on the wrong one.”

Party activist Carlos Cardona dinged Hassan for her ad, saying she should be focusing on liberal priorities instead, like those found in Biden’s abandoned Build Back Better bill.

“If our Senator is serious about helping Granite Staters, she should start by not giving away money to gas companies. Pass the #ChildTaxCredit or do a form of #UBI for all  #NHPolitics,” Cardona tweeted.

Rebecca Beaulieu with the environmental activist group 350 NH said Hassan should do more to help with climate initiatives instead of helping oil companies’ profit.

“Sen. Hassan should instead be calling for a Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax: this would raise billions of dollars that could be sent to Americans to help with the costs of high gas prices. Big oil doesn’t deserve to make huge profits off the climate crisis they created. Exxon, Chevron, and other big oil companies are making huge profits because of their high gas prices,” Beaulieu said.

Republicans say they are delighted to see Hassan attacking Democrats, believing it will only discourage her party’s base without converting any independents. They note she has voted with President Biden 98 percent of the time. “Maggie Hassan’s campaign strategy is to pretend she has no voting record.  She is trying to completely remake herself in the final seven months of the race and pretend no one notices.  Well, everyone does notice and won’t be fooled so easily,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson T.W Arrighi said Monday.

Don Bolduc, one of the Republicans running in a primary to unseat Hassan, said there is no way to separate her policies from Biden’s.

“Sen. Hassan promising relief on gas prices is the equivalent of an arsonist saying they can help put out a fire. The Biden-Hassan anti-energy agenda got us here, and the only way out is sending Hassan packing” Bolduc said.

Bruce Fenton, the crypto-millionaire running in the primary, blames Hassan’s staff for the incoherent messaging, and Hassan for failed leadership.

“Her marketing consultants and handlers seem sort of all over the place, so it’s not really clear what she’s attempting to say she stands for,” Fenton said. “Her voting record speaks for itself. Politicians who support terrible policies always try to distract voters, but this won’t work this time.”

Fenton might have a point. While Hassan has recently been vocal in pushing for a gas tax holiday during the inflationary price spikes, she was also responsible as governor for saddling New Hampshire families with an additional $240 million in gas taxes since 2014. Hassan’s four cents a gallon hike, passed in 2014, added $30 million a year in new taxes. It was at the time the first increase in decades.

And Hassan has long supported restrictions on oil and gas production, including Biden’s decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline, a move the senator continues to support.

Kevin Smith, the former Londonderry town manager in the running to challenge Hassan, said the senator keeps stealing positions from the GOP as she frantically tried to win reelection.

“If Hassan keeps trying to run from her far-left record at this rate, by the time September rolls around she will have called for the election integrity she voted against, decried the out-of-control spending she voted for, and railed against Biden’s foreign policy disasters she stood silently by. It’ll be interesting to see how her first speech at CPAC is received given her long, far-left record that runs contrary to her election-year moderate makeover rhetoric,” Smith said.

State Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said Hassan’s political maneuvering is obvious, and won’t fool any voters.

“Maggie Hassan votes for Joe Biden’s agenda and nominees 98 percent of the time. It’s laughable she would even try to distance herself from her best friend in the Washington Swamp with her latest gimmick ad,” Morse said. “Whenever President Biden comes to New Hampshire, she’s there for the photo-op. We need real, American First energy solutions to combat our current problems – not gimmicks from someone who did nothing while Keystone was shut down and we started funding dictators’ bloody war machines across the globe instead of producing oil in North America. When I’m in the U.S. Senate, I’ll actually take on Joe Biden and his backward energy policy head on.”