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AFP Targets Pappas Over Support for ‘Bidenomics,’ Big Spending

President Joe Biden’s “Bidenomics” spending spree is buying nothing but record debt, lower wages, and a weaker economy, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) keeps cosigning the charges, according to a new campaign out this week from Americans For Prosperity.

AFP, a libertarian-leaning grassroots activist organization, is launching an ad campaign in five states targeting Democrats who, like Pappas, are in more centrist districts but embraced Biden’s entire economic agenda, including trillions in post-COVID spending.

The 15-second streaming ad highlights the negative consequences of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, like the inflationary increase in prices for gas, groceries, and housing now faced by average Americans. According to AFP, it takes an extra $11,400 to afford the standard of living Americans had when Biden took office in January, 2021.

“Rep. Pappas has done nothing but rubber-stamp President Biden’s agenda. And it couldn’t be further from what Granite Staters expect of their elected leaders,” said Greg Moore, AFP-NH’s state director. “You can see the difference between the heavy hand of Bidenomics and the light-touch policies that have made New Hampshire the freest state in the nation with robust economic growth.

“Rep. Pappas needs to give up on Bidenomics and take a page from the New Hampshire Advantage,” Moore said.

AFP’s campaign, which will include the streaming ad as well as direct mail and door-to-door outreach, is a response to Biden’s reelection campaign Bidenomics Bus Tour. Despite polls showing nearly twice as many Americans believe Biden has hurt the economy (49 percent) than helped it (28 percent), the incumbent president has made “Bidenomics” a centerpiece of his campaign for a second term.

“No president’s had the run we’ve had in terms of creating jobs and bringing down inflation,” Biden claimed last week. “It was 9 percent when I came to office, 9 percent.”

(Biden’s claim is false. Inflation was actually 1.4 percent when Biden took office, though it soared to 9 percent in June, 2022.)

Not surprisingly, the candidates in the First Congressional District GOP primary aren’t fans of Biden’s economics.

“As a small business owner, I have felt the implications of President Biden’s painful inflation and Congressman Pappas’ reckless tax and spend agenda in Washington,” said Republican Russell Prescott. “As a former state senator who has balanced budgets and stopped a sales and income tax, I have the necessary experience of governing in a fiscally responsible way. Our campaign is uniquely positioned to hold Chris Pappas accountable for his out-of-control spending spree in Congress, and we look forward to doing so this November.”

Pappas is also a business owner — his family owns the Puritan Backroom restaurant in Manchester — a fact noted by GOP contender Chris Bright.

“Thanks to the disastrous Biden-Pappas economic agenda, New Hampshire families pay more for their mortgage, more for groceries, more for gas and even the chicken tenders at the Puritan Backroom cost over 30 percent more than they did before their reckless spending spree.

“It’s time for a dramatic change of direction that reins in overspending, puts our economy back on track and gets the cost of living under control.” 

And Hollie Noveletsky, another GOP candidate, said the spending pushed by Pappas and Biden adds up to fiscal pain for everyone else.

“As the owner of a small business that has been debt-free for over 30 years, I have to be fiscally responsible. If I wasn’t, my company would be bankrupt and my employees would lose their jobs,” Noveletsky said.

“Unfortunately, career politicians like Chris Pappas have blown out government spending which has been the main cause of inflation and higher costs. Those increased costs are putting the squeeze on middle-class families when they go to the grocery store. That real life impact will definitely impact the ballot box this November.”

Pappas voted for all of Biden’s major spending proposals, including the American Rescue Plan of 2021 ($1.9 trillion), the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act ($1 trillion) and the so-called Inflation Reduction Act ($1 trillion), which economists agree is not reducing inflation.

The spending has driven the U.S. federal debt to $35 trillion. In fiscal year 2022, the deficit was $1.38 trillion. The following year it was $1.7 trillion. This year, the budget deficit will total $1.5 trillion and grow to $2.6 trillion by 2034, with interest payments on the debt going from $659 billion in 2023 to more than $1.6 trillion by 2034.

“Interest on the national debt, already higher than federal spending on children or Medicaid, will exceed spending on defense next year, on its way to $1 trillion by 2026. This is no way to run a country,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

The debt is also cutting into income and wages for most Americans, according to the CBO. Over the next three decades, the national debt is expected to cut wages and income by at least $8,000 per person, though if more debt is added under Biden’s proposals, that could jump to as much as $141,000 in lost income over 30 years, according to the CBO.

MacGuineas said it’s past time for Congress to take responsibility before the debt crashes the economy.

“We can start by actually passing a budget and by establishing a bipartisan fiscal commission to tackle some of these issues. We need a real plan to put the national debt on a downward sustainable path before it’s too late,” MacGuineas said.

Pappas declined to respond to requests for comment.

NH Delegation Goes Postal Over Possible Closure of Manchester Facility

The check, they say, is in the mail. But where is the Democrats’ plan to end the billion-dollar losses at the U.S. Postal Service?

All four members of the New Hampshire federal delegation held a press conference demanding the USPS keep its processing and distribution center in Manchester fully up and running. 

The USPS recently announced the Manchester facility will undergo a euphemistically titled process called an “operational evaluation.” That evaluation could mean layoffs or closure for the center.


Democrats Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas spoke outside the center Monday, vowing to keep the facility operating in the face of dire financial losses. The four even penned a letter to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy demanding he keep the Manchester site open.

“Our constituents depend on the Postal Service for prompt and reliable mail and package deliveries. Delays of critical deliveries, such as medications and benefit payments, can cause significant harm, especially for elderly Americans and those living in rural areas. The decisions the Postal Service is considering would put at risk the ability for individuals across New Hampshire to rely on the Postal Service to ensure their delivery needs are met,” they wrote.

It’s not clear which member paid the 68 cents for the first-class stamp — or if they simply sent an email.

In November, the USPS reported a $6.5 billion net loss for fiscal year 2023, and that the volume of first-class mail fell to its lowest level since 1968.

Taxpayers have already given the Postal Service and its union workers a massive bailout. In the Postal Service Reform Act signed by President Joe Biden in 2022, the post office was allowed to wipe out $57 billion in past-due liabilities and eliminate another $50 billion in payments due over the next 10 years.

All four members of the Granite State delegation voted for that legislation, which cost taxpayers more than $100 billion.

Consolidating mail sorting plants is part of Postmaster DeJoy’s 10-year plan to make the Postal Service solvent. If Shaheen and her fellow legislators get their way and force the Manchester facility to continue operating at current levels, what’s their plan to end the billion-dollar losses at the Postal Service?

NHJournal asked all four members of the delegation that question. They declined to respond.

“Sens. Shaheen and Hassan and Reps. Kuster and Pappas are wrong – every USPS facility should be subject to evaluation and review to ensure that the agency keeps costs under control for taxpayers and consumers,” said David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, a consumer watchdog group. “An agency or business with losses in the billions needs to be ready to make painful cuts.”

But Dana Colletti, New Hampshire president of the American Postal Workers Union, rejected any proposed reductions in staff or consolidation of facilities. Cutting spending is not the way to fix the post office, he said.

“The answer is never a reduction in service. It would always be to improve service,” Colletti told NHJournal.

Asked how the USPS could continue to operate while losing $6.5 billion a year and with revenues declining, Coletti simply responded, “It’s a national institution.”

There are money-saving steps the agency can take, like ditching its expensive electric vehicle push, Williams said. The USPS committed to buy 66,000 electric delivery trucks last year.

“The USPS can also reduce red ink by halting costly electric vehicle purchases and ending the cross-subsidization of packages, money orders, and money-losing pilot programs. A fiscally healthier USPS would have more than enough resources to fund distribution centers and post offices that actually serve consumers,” Williams said.

UNH Political Science Department Denies Bias in Leavitt Snub

University of New Hampshire College Democrats seem to be getting help with turnout for their events from the school’s political science department, though its chair denies any bias. 

When the UNH Political Science Department sent out a notice informing students of an upcoming Get Out the Vote rally featuring Democrats Sen. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, College Republican President Carson Hansford took exception.

“I was shocked when I saw the notice,” Hansford said.

The department regularly sends students notices about events on campus featuring political figures. The notices typically state they are not endorsements of any political side, and the department does not sponsor the events in any way. But Hansford said institutional bias seems to be at work.

Last spring, the College Republicans hosted GOP congressional candidate Karoline Leavitt as part of her “Wake up Gen Z College Tour.” Hansford sent an email about the event to the address for the department listed in the school’s directory. He never heard back. The department never sent a notice to students about the Leavitt appearance he said.

“I had not received an email in reply, so I had forgotten about it and had assumed that the department did not want to advertise anything that was political,” Hansford said. “Yesterday … the political science department sent an email advertising Sen. Hassan and Sen. Warren coming to campus on Friday for a GOTV (get out the vote) event, even sending out the Democrat’s link to sign up for it.”

Hansford said there is a general liberal bias on campus among students, and that he and his fellow College Republicans deal with regular snarky comments when they hold public events.

“People say to us we’re the worst thing ever, things along those lines,” Hansford said.

Jeannie Sowers

Jeannie Sowers, the department chair, told NH Journal the issue of the notices from her department is not a story, and that Hansford was wrong to speak to the media about his concerns.

“I do not appreciate students reaching out to the media and trying to create a controversy where none exists,” Sowers said.

When asked about the Leavitt event, Sowers feigned ignorance.

“I do not know who that is,” Sowers said of the GOP rising star who is facing off against Rep. Chris Pappas, D-Manchester, in next week’s closely watched election with national implications.

Sowers said the department has a rule not to send out notices about people who are merely candidates and instead focuses on sitting elected officials regardless of party.

“Sitting elected officials are more likely to get notice,” Sowers said.

Sowers faulted Hansford for not reaching out to the department with his concerns and cast doubt on whether he ever sent the department a notice about his event. She also suggested Hansford may have requested some type of sponsorship from the department for the event, which would have been against policy.

Hansford, a political science undergrad, said he did not ask for any kind of endorsement or sponsorship. As for the distinction about sitting elected officials getting priority over candidates, Hansford said the department sent out notices about Democratic presidential candidates like Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Bernie Sanders during the presidential primary season.

UNH is ranked 16th in the nation for free speech on campus by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), but that was down from 3rd just a year earlier.  Katelyn Regan, head of the UNH Students for Life chapter, recently told NH Journal her pro-life organization has been subject to threats and intimidation on campus, mostly from pro-abortion students.

“We have had the police called on us a bunch of times,” Regan said.

Leavitt has run into stumbling blocks on New Hampshire campuses throughout her campaign. Last summer, Southern New Hampshire University imposed restrictions on the audience for an appearance by Leavitt hosted by the campus College Republicans. The administration acknowledged it singled out Leavitt for being “controversial.”

“Our policies are compliant with both state and federal laws and allow for the free flow of information and ideas while ensuring campus safety,” said SNHU spokesperson Siobhan Lopez.

NH Law Not Impacted by SCOTUS Ruling, But NHDems Still Vow to Fight

New Hampshire’s elected officials responded with anger and outrage to the news of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision, sending the regulation of abortion back to the states and the people. New Hampshire Democrats promised to fight. 

“I am angry and heartbroken by today’s Supreme Court decision. We knew this was coming, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Elections have consequences, and I will never stop fighting for access to abortion and a woman’s right to choose,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said on Twitter.

Sen. Maggie Hassan called the ruling a “radical” decision.

“The Supreme Court’s radical decision to take away a woman’s freedom – her right to bodily autonomy – has pulled us back decades,” Hassan said. “Abortion is a fundamental right. I won’t let this be the final word on our freedom, and I will keep fighting.”

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (D) said the conservative majority on the Supreme Court will go further unless Democrats win elections.

“Make no mistake – they are coming for contraception. They are coming for same-sex marriage. Elections matter. Vote,” she tweeted.

Alito’s majority opinion explicitly confronts that particular argument, saying, “Rights regarding contraception and same-sex relationships are inherently different from the right to abortion because the latter (as we have stressed) uniquely involves what Roe and Casey termed ‘potential life.'” However, Justice Clarence Thomas, in a lone concurring opinion, suggested any cases resolved based on “substantive due process precedents” — which includes cases involving birth control and same-sex marriage — should be “reconsidered.”

Governor Chris Sununu released a statement repeating the fact that New Hampshire’s law isn’t impacted in any way by this ruling. “Regardless of this Supreme Court decision, access to these services will continue to remain safe, accessible, and legal in New Hampshire,” Sununu said.

Nevertheless, U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, D-Manchester, still claimed the Supreme Court’s ruling impacted women in the Granite State.

“This decision is a devastating blow against the health, well-being, and personal freedom of women in New Hampshire and all across our country,” Pappas said.

And state legislators like Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) went so far as to “implore” Sununu  “to call the Legislature back in for a special session to enshrine the right to safe, legal abortion care here in New Hampshire.” She did not explain how the court’s ruling affected abortions in the state.

State Sen. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, who is running to unseat Sununu, said he would fight to ensure women continue to have the right to abortion in New Hampshire.

“I trust women to make their own medical decisions, & I will fight to codify into N.H. law the right to a safe and legal abortion,” Sherman tweeted. “Access to safe abortions & contraceptives have allowed women to grow their careers and make choices that are right for them & their families.”

All four members of the state’s federal delegation support the Women’s Health Protection Act, which, if passed, would force states to allow abortions without restriction through all nine months of pregnancy.

Dartmouth Health, the state’s largest healthcare provider, issued a statement on Friday affirming it would continue to provide abortion.

“Dartmouth Health is unwavering in its belief in the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship to make the best-informed decisions for patients to reflect their needs and healthcare priorities,” the statement read. “We also strongly believe that abortion is an essential component of healthcare. Like all medical matters, decisions regarding abortion should be made by patients in consultation with their healthcare providers.”

While Democrats in New Hampshire and national were blaming Republicans for the decision, Kristen Day, Executive Director of Democrats for Life, pointed out that the party’s extremist stance on abortion likely cost it the support needed to protect Roe.

“Abortion activists are responsible for the Roe being overturned. They overstepped by celebrating abortion and advocating for it for up to 9 months. The Democratic Party embraced these extremists leading to Republican majorities all over the country,” Day wrote on Twitter.

New Hampshire Republicans offered muted praise for the ruling, emphasizing the court’s decision moves the issue back to the states.

“I’m proud of my pro-life record in the New Hampshire State Senate,” said Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem), a candidate for U.S. Senate. “Last year we settled the law in New Hampshire that permits abortions in the first six months while banning late-term and partial-birth abortions in the last 12 weeks of a pregnancy – a policy that the vast majority of Granite Staters support. This decision has no impact on New Hampshire. I strongly believe that the states should have the right to govern policy in their respective states as the Supreme Court has ruled,” Morse said.

Retired Gen. Don Bolduc, who is also running in the GOP U.S. Senate primary, applauded the court’s decision as well.

“As a pro-life candidate, I believe the Supreme Court made the right decision. After the death and destruction I’ve seen across war-torn places in Afghanistan and Africa, I believe all life should be protected,” Bolduc said. “We must understand that this opinion does not outlaw abortion. It returns the decision to the individual states to make the decision they think is best for their citizens. Here in New Hampshire, our state has already passed our own laws well before this Court decision. That is precisely how the Founding Fathers intended our Constitutional Republic to function.”

Kevin Smith, R-Londonderry, another GOP U.S. Senate candidate, said state legislatures are the appropriate place to make decisions about abortion laws.

“I support returning the matter to the state legislatures, so the people in each of those states have a say in determining when it is appropriate to put reasonable restrictions in place, such as New Hampshire has done on late-term abortions,” he said.

In the GOP primary for the First Congressional District, several candidates were quick to give credit for the ruling to former President Donald Trump.

“I applaud the Supreme Court’s righteous decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Today, life wins, and the rule of law has prevailed. God Bless the Justices, and thank you President Trump!” said Karoline Leavitt, who is hoping to challenge Pappas in November.

Rep. Tim Baxter (R-Seabrook), another candidate in the crowded First District field, also thanked Trump, and said more work needs to be done.

“We need proven conservative leaders in Congress who will stand up against the radical abortionists’ attempts to codify abortion into federal law, and I look forward to defending the lives of the unborn once I’m elected to Congress,” he wrote.

Cornerstone Action, which has promoted pro-life legislation, issued a statement predicting violence against pro-life groups as a result of the decision.

“We expect today’s news will hasten political polarization around the country and inflame a hateful totalitarianism which threatens America’s constitutional order. We must also focus—more than ever—on the physical safety of pregnancy care centers and churches and, ultimately, on protecting the separation of powers and the rule of law,” Cornerstone said.

The Sununu administration appeared to take those concerns seriously.

Friday afternoon, New Hampshire’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division issued a state-wide alert after activists were gathering to protest the decision at several locations throughout the state.

“The State Emergency Operations Center has been partially activated as of 4:00 PM on Friday, 6/24/22 to monitor multiple events taking place across the state in response to a Supreme Court decision.”

Hassan, Pappas Silent as Inflation Hits 40-Year High

Grim economic news for New Hampshire residents as inflation continues to climb, spiking to a 40-year high at 7.9 percent. And, experts say, it’s likely to get worse in the coming months — presenting a serious problem for vulnerable incumbents like Democrats Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas.

The U.S. Labor Department released numbers Thursday showing the previous 12 months had the highest rate of inflation since 1982 as Americans deal with sky-high prices for food, gas, and basic goods.

President Biden blamed Russian President Putin.

“[T]oday’s inflation report is a reminder that Americans’ budgets are being stretched by price increases and families are starting to feel the impacts of Putin’s price hike,” Biden said in a statement

“The numbers are eye-watering, and there is more to come,” Eric Winograd, senior economist at asset management firm AllianceBernstein, told the Associated Press. “The peak in inflation will be much higher than previously thought and will arrive later than previously expected.”

In New Hampshire, gas is already more than $4 a gallon and heating oil is topping $5 a gallon. With the worst inflation still ahead, the response from members of the New Hampshire congressional enate delegation has been to continue with the status quo.

Polls show people across the nation and here in New Hampshire say their top issue is inflation. And yet as of late Thursday night, neither Hassan nor Pappas had released a statement about the new inflation numbers or any plans to address the problem. Nor did they respond to requests for comment.

[Editor’s note: Despite being taxpayer-funded public employees, the staffers at Hassan and Pappas’ offices have been instructed not to respond to media requests from NHJournal.]

Hassan did, however, post a message praising Major League Baseball for resolving a labor dispute:

In the past, both have argued that increased federal spending, like the Build Back Better proposal Pappas voted for late last year, is the best way to solve the inflation problem.

Hassan has proposed a temporary gas tax holiday as a way to deal with rising prices. That would add about $20 billion in federal debt as funds were transferred from the general fund to the highway fund.

“It would be about a $20 billion hit on the Transportation Trust Fund,” Robert Puentes, president of the Eno Center for Transportation, told Marketplace. “That’s the main source of money for fixing roads, bridges. and subways, and a gas tax holiday for the rest of the year would cut it in half, Puentes said.

And, economists note, the “spend to solve” strategy could actually make the inflation problem slightly worse.

Southern New Hampshire University’s Professor of Economics Dr. Nicole Bissessar said that while long-term federal spending does not generally increase inflation, spending with short-term benefits like relief checks and gas subsidies can alter the market and lead to higher consumer prices.

“If government spending leads to an increase in consumer demand which then will affect supply immediately (short term 1-3 months), it will affect prices,” she said.

Associate Dean of Business Dr. Zuzana Buzzell said the federal government can take action to curb the rise in inflation by going after monetary policy.

“The government and Federal Reserve should act quickly to address the rise. There needs to be a tightening on monetary policies, starting with the rise in interest rates and tapering the asset purchases. The monetary policy needs to put more weight on inflation risks in 2022. This is particularly important as commodity prices are expected to rise again in 2022,” Buzzell said.

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates later this month in an effort to slow the inflation surge.

GOP candidates running to unseat Hassan lost little time Thursday in jumping on the inflation numbers. New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) said inflation has been climbing since President Joe Biden took office, and Hassan has failed to act.

“Inflation is out of control and prices on everything from gas to milk to everyday purchases are skyrocketing. We need to get spending under control in DC the same way we’ve controlled it in NH. The 603 Way, not the DC Way, will get us out of this inflationary crisis,” Morse said.

Former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith knocked Hassan for blaming oil company price gouging for the spike in energy prices, calling that a “conspiracy theory.”

“Granite Staters are desperate for solutions, yet Maggie Hassan instead chooses to peddle short-term gimmicks that won’t work and debunked ‘price gouging’ conspiracy theories that aren’t true,” he said.

Don Bolduc accused Hassan of being out of touch with Granite Staters who are struggling to pay their bills.

“Everyone is feeling the squeeze of inflation. Unfortunately, Sen. Maggie Hassan has been part of the political machine for so long, she’s stopped understanding the real-world problems facing Granite Staters,” he said.

According to the Associated Press, from January to February, prices for nearly every category of goods and services went up substantially. Grocery costs jumped 1.4 percent, the sharpest one-month increase since 1990, other than during a pandemic-induced price surge two years ago. The collective price of fruits and vegetables rose 2.3 percent, the largest monthly increase since 2010. Gas prices spiked 6.6 percent, and clothing, 0.7 percent.

For the 12 months ending in February, grocery prices jumped 8.6 percent, the biggest year-over-year increase since 1981, the AP reports. Gas prices are up 38 percent and housing costs have risen 4.7 percent, the largest yearly jump since 1991, according to the AP.

 

 

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)

Infrastructure Bill Spends $17M to Charge EVs in NH That Nobody Drives

President Joe Biden came to New Hampshire Tuesday to hit the “local money” message hard: The infrastructure bill means big bucks for Granite State projects.

“Folks, it’s not hyperbole to say your delegation is laser-focused on your needs — the people of New Hampshire,” Biden said Tuesday at the bridge in Woodstock. “The concerns that are discussed around your kitchen tables. This isn’t esoteric. It’s about what happens to ordinary people.”

Ordinary people who drive electric vehicles.

According to a White House press handout for Biden’s trip to Woodstock, N.H., “Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, New Hampshire would expect to receive $17 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state. New Hampshire will also have the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging in the bill.”

It’s part of the “$7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers in the United States.”

Spending $17 million on EV charging stations in New Hampshire is an interesting investment of tax money given that, statistically speaking, there aren’t any EVs in New Hampshire. According to vehicle registration data, as of the end of 2020, there were just 2,690 EVs in the entire state.

Taxpayers will be spending $6,319.70 per EV in the Granite State. If the state somehow gets that $2.5 billion in grant funding, it would be more than $833,000 per electric car.

And that’s on top of the general tax subsidies people who buy EVs already get. The federal electric vehicle tax credit program gives up to $7,500 in taxpayer dollars for qualifying purchases. Households earning more than $100,000 collect about 80 percent of those EV kickbacks.

Not that there are a lot of EVs nationwide, either.

Of the more than 276 million vehicles registered in the United States, fewer than 1.5 million are plug-in electric vehicles and another 5.4 million are hybrid electric. That’s less than 2 percent of the registered vehicles on the road, and nearly half of all electric vehicles in the country are in California alone.

In fact, in 2017 more EVs were sold in California than all other states combined.

The EV money is also another example of New Hampshire getting less funding from the infrastructure bill than its neighbors in Vermont. Despite having less than half the Granite State’s population, Vermont will receive $21 million for its EV charging network, or $9,417 per electric vehicle.

All four members of the New Hampshire delegation voted for the $7.5 billion as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Rep. Annie Kuster has pushed to get even more EV charging money in the social programs/green energy reconciliation budget bill.

“Folks, when you see these projects starting in your hometown, I want you to feel what I feel: Pride,” Biden said as he stood on the Green Bridge in Woodstock.

It’s unlikely more than a handful of EVs have ever driven across that span.

New Hampshire’s Delegation Celebrates Signing of Biden’s $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster stood in the White House Rose Garden Monday moments before President Joe Biden was due to sign the $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending, celebrating the spending.

“A billion dollars coming to New Hampshire for roads and bridges and highways, we’re even going to get rail back to New Hampshire,” Kuster said in a video posted to Twitter.

As Kuster spoke, the United States Marine Corps Band played “76 Trombones” from the Broadway show, “The Music Man,” about a con artist who made big promises he couldn’t keep.

Kuster and the rest of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation celebrated Biden’s signing of the bill, citing the investments in roads and bridges, as well as broadband internet for rural areas like New Hampshire, public transportation expansion, and investments in clean drinking water.

“This bill has so many elements that will be game-changers for our families and our economy,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan.

Hassan is facing a potentially tough reelection bid despite presumed front-runner Gov. Chris Sununu bowing out of the race last week. Polls show Biden’s spending package is popular, even if the president himself is not.

Rep. Chris Pappas, whose congressional career faces possible extinction thanks to Republican-led redistricting, also supported the spending plan.

“I’m pleased the president has signed this legislation into law, and I look forward to beginning the work of repairing our infrastructure,” he said.

Both Pappas and Kuster’s poll ratings dipped into negative territory in the latest New Hampshire Institute of Politics poll, a first for both of them. Pappas was at 42 percent favorable to 46 percent unfavorable, Kuster landed at 40 percent to 46 percent.

The only Democrat not facing reelection this year, Sen. Janne Shaheen, touted her role in crafting the spending legislation.

“As a lead negotiator, I fought to ensure New Hampshire priorities were front and center: that includes investments to upgrade our water infrastructure – including robust support to combat PFAS contamination – and to bring high-speed internet to every corner of our state,” she said.

Backing the nominally bipartisan infrastructure plan, which had 13 Republican House votes, is risky for the three incumbents facing voters next year. Biden is underwater with Granite State voters, according to the most recent polling data. His recent polling average is 42 percent approve/52 percent disapprove. As Gallup reports, “Currently, 34 percent of independents approve of the job Biden is doing, the lowest of his term to date. His approval among independents has fallen a total of 21 points since June, including nine points since August.”

Biden is also trying to push through his $1.75 trillion Build Back Better social safety net spending package that includes spending on daycare, cash payments to parents, and green energy policies. Given a 30 percent spike in inflation, a majority of New Hampshire voters may not want to see all of that spending. Only 37 percent of Granite Staters want the “Build Back Better” multi-trillion-dollar spending package to pass, while 40 percent would like to see both spending bills killed, according to the polls.

And a Scott Rasmussen poll taken in August, before inflation become a top-tier issue, found 59 percent of voters nationwide believe increased government spending leads to inflation. Only 14 percent disagreed.

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.