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Inflation Drives DelVal Families to Food Cupboards for Help

Inflation bites during this era of Bidenomics. And poor families are the ones being bitten.

A recent study showed that for those households that used the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) increased pandemic benefits, 43 percent skipped meals last month, and 55 percent ate less because they couldn’t afford food. According to a report from Propel Inc., that was more than double last year’s rate.

Also, more households had utilities shut off or could not pay their rent.

Those households receiving SNAP are at or below the federal poverty line of $30,000 annually for a family of four.

According to the U.S. Census, real median post-tax household income in 2022 was 8.8 percent lower than in 2021.

The Census reports the poorest areas of the Delaware Valley include the city of Chester, Darby Borough and Darby Township, Sharon Hill, and Colwyn in Delaware County; parts of West Chester and Coatesville in Chester County; and Norristown and Pottstown in Montgomery County.

Liz Hagedorn, director of Nutritional Development Services, which is affiliated with the Archdioceses of Philadelphia, agreed inflation drives the need for more people to ask for help. Her organization sponsors 50 food cupboards in the five-county area.

Nicolino Ellis welcomes clients to the Jenkintown Food Cupboard.

“We are seeing the cost of not only food but also utilities and other items that families need just to get by have all gone up tremendously,” said Hagedorn. “And very few of those items have come back down in price. And we are seeing an increase at the food cupboards and people in the street, as well, coming in for more food.”

Nicolino Ellis, director of the Jenkintown Food Cupboard at the United Methodist Church, said he sees more people signing up for food.

As of Sept. 1, 2022, the church had 275 new families as clients. It has 382 new families this year, “over a third increase,” he noted.

And in August 2022, it had 870 visits (some families made multiple visits). This year, there were 1,165 visits to the food cupboard.

“That’s a massive increase,” he said. Inflation is partly to blame based on the increase of elderly people on fixed incomes who are coming in for food, he explained. They also have more Ukrainian refugees: 50 of 65 families who recently signed up are Ukrainian refugees “who had never been here before,” said Ellis, who greets clients as they drive in and seems to know everyone’s name.

“Last month, there were 76 new families,” said Ellis. “That’s a really high number.” In 2022, about 20 families a month signed up, he said.

Last Thursday, a steady stream of people drove up to get their food allocation. The food cupboard also offers personal care items and baby care needs like shampoo and diapers.

Jenkintown Food Cupboard volunteer Bess Kaufman fills a cart for a client.

Volunteers act as personal shoppers and fulfill the clients’ lists. They know their likes and dislikes. The food cupboard has 175 volunteers with 70 alternating weeks.

Ellis pointed out that giving fish to someone who does not like fish would be wasteful.

“We’re trying to eliminate some of the stigma of being food insecure,” he said. They also have a fund to help smaller food pantries in the area supply fresh food, not just “shelf staples.”

The food cupboard offers fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and almond milk,  eggs, various kinds of meat, and staples like rice and pasta. It has storage rooms in the building it rents from the church with shelving and refrigerators. It is raising money for a warehouse, he said. However, it will keep the present site for clients to pick up their supplies.

About a third of the food cupboard’s money comes from federal funds through the state and county, with the remainder from donations. Many religious institutions and schools collect food for it. Food is collected through Philabundance and the Share Food Program, and fresh produce is purchased from a distributor.

“Last year, we gave away almost a half million pounds of food,” he said.

Hagedorn thinks more people will feel the pinch in October when they must begin repaying their student loans.

“I think a lot of young people and older people are going to feel that squeeze in their budget, as well,” said Hagedorn.

“They’re saying the inflation rate has gone down,” she said. “That it’s more manageable. But I don’t see it. I mean, I know from my own personal experience when you go food shopping, have you seen the price of anything go down? No. I’m thinking, where are these people (who say that) shopping?”

More people are reaching out for help, she said.

“You know what Jesus said, ‘Everyone is your neighbor.’ So that’s what we do,” said Hagedorn.

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Counterpoint: Labor Faces a Partisan Divide on Most Important Issues

For an alternate point of view see “Point: This Labor Day Don’t Let Pols Take Credit for the Economy”

“In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, tens of millions struggle to put food on the table, find affordable housing, affordable healthcare, affordable prescription drugs, affordable childcare and affordable educational opportunities.”

That was Bernie Sanders, in New Hampshire last week, summing up some of the injustices at the source of many Americans’ discontent.

It’s Labor Day 2023. The election cycle will be moving into high gear, and 2024 could determine how much we can fix these problems or whether we move backward toward increasing inequality of income, wealth and access to education.

Let’s start with some good news: Over the past year, inflation has fallen from 9.1 percent to just 3.2 percent. Many economists, including Nobel Prize winners and others prominent in the profession, would say that the job is about done. The Fed’s goal is still 2 percent and will likely get there. But it doesn’t really have an argument that 3 percent is a problem.

In any case, the economists and others who said that inflation would become semi-permanent or accelerate turned out to be wrong. Those of us who saw no self-reinforcing mechanism — as with the wage-price spiral of the 1970s, where wages push up prices, which then lead to higher nominal wages, and so on — were correct. The spike in inflation was overwhelmingly caused by disruptions associated with the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. And for these and other reasons, it turned out that inflation could recede without creating mass unemployment or a recession.

This is good news because the Fed, by raising interest rates, has actually caused most of the recessions we have experienced since World War II.

Instead, we have full employment. This is a big deal, not only for the millions of people who would otherwise be unemployed and their children. The historical record shows that when the economy approaches full employment, real (inflation-adjusted) wages increase. They increase more for lower-wage workers than for the higher paid, so inequality — by workers’ income, gender and race — is reduced. The bargaining power of labor, including unions, increases. This is all happening now and can accelerate with smart economic policies.

When the pandemic recession hit, we had the strongest stimulus ever, running deficits of 14.9 percent of GDP in 2020 and 12.4 percent of GDP in 2021. That is how we got back to full employment with record speed. Some 13.4 million jobs have been created since President Biden took office.

But the problems raised by Bernie Sanders — who strongly supports the successful economic policies implemented — remain. And there is a deep partisan divide over how to deal with them.

On the Democratic side, there is an emphasis on full employment and real wage growth. This includes meeting the climate crisis with major investments. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS Act have boosted manufacturing construction, which has doubled since the end of 2021.

The Biden administration has also been supportive of workers’ collective bargaining rights. On August 25, the National Labor Relations Board issued a historic decision that will make it more difficult for employers to violate labor law, as they routinely have done, to deny union recognition and collective bargaining. On Tuesday, the administration announced the first 10 medicines subject to price negotiations with Medicare — a landmark development for lowering drug costs.

Republicans hope to capitalize on the anger generated by the injustices they have by far taken the lead role in creating. We lost 5.8 million manufacturing jobs in the 2000s; the real (inflation-adjusted) median wage has barely grown from 1979-2019 (pre-pandemic); patent monopolies have been strengthened so that they cost Americans more than $400 billion annually just for prescription drugs (note at least five Moderna billionaires were created from COVID); unions now represent 6 percent of the private-sector workforce, as compared to a peak 35 percent in the 1950s; Republicans have repeatedly opposed minimum wage increases.

No Republican candidate raised their hand at the Milwaukee debate when asked to do so if they believed that human behavior is causing climate change. Republicans have also been trying to cut non-military spending as much as possible without regard to harm caused. And they have consistently opposed efforts to expand healthcare coverage for Americans.

Hence the partisan divide. This election could change the country and the world for decades to come.

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Midterm Election Dominated DVJournal’s 2022 Coverage

Looking back at 2022, the most significant stories the Delaware Valley Journal covered involved the midterm election.

The primary campaign for governor and lieutenant governor on the Republican side brought out many candidates. In contrast, on the Democratic side, only Josh Shapiro ran for governor while a few Democrats contested for the lieutenant governor’s nomination. Many Republicans supported Shapiro, who ran as a moderate.

The race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R) drew several candidates in both parties. Democrats fielded Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke during the campaign, Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Philadelphia physician Kevin Baumlin, and western Pennsylvania Congressman Conor Lamb.

Among area Senate candidates, conservative author and commentator Kathy Barnette, Montgomery County businessman Jeff Bartos, Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto, and Montgomery County lawyer Sean Gale all took part in a debate sponsored by the DVJournal that was broadcast on Pennsylvania Cable Network.

Celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick duked it out, spending massive amounts on television ads. With former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, Oz prevailed by a slim margin, only to lose in the general election to Fetterman. Fetterman’s poor showing in a late October debate failed to move the needle since many voters had already cast their ballots via mail-in voting before seeing it.

The DVJournal also sponsored an online debate for Republican lieutenant governor candidates.

The wide field of men and one woman running for the Republican nomination for governor also debated several times. State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) came out on top in the primary despite a last-minute play by party leaders to back former Congressman Lou Barletta. Locally, Delaware County businessman Dave White made a strong showing and Chester County attorney Bill McSwain enjoyed the deep-pocket financial support of Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs.

Shapiro, who spent millions on television commercials to paint Mastriano as an extremist, went on to handily win the governor’s race. Many believe redistricting in the Delaware Valley collar counties gave the Democrats a new advantage. Democrats defeated several incumbent Republicans, notably Todd Stephens in Montgomery County, Chris Quinn in Delaware County, and Todd Polinchock in Bucks County.

Other 2022 stories in the region included the saga of private utility companies buying up municipal sewer and water authorities. The DVJ has highlighted Pennsylvanians’ likely higher energy bills with Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), despite opposition from the state legislature.  And the state’s crucial Marcellus Shale natural gas industry remains under assault from the Biden administration’s embrace of the Green New Deal.

This year, many other DVJournal articles focused on parents who are at war with “woke” school boards and school administrators who impose critical race theory (CRT) and gender-fluid ideology on their students and critical race theory (CRT) and gender-fluid ideology on their students as well as stocking school libraries with obscene books.

The Delaware Valley Journal also brought readers the saga of the state House versus progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner that culminated in the House voting to impeach Krasner for mishandling of his official duties, which they allege is a significant factor in the skyrocketing crime rate in the city. An impeachment trial for Krasner is set in the Senate for Jan. 18.

While crime has been a big issue for DVJournal’s 2022 reporting, inflation was also a hot topic with skyrocketing prices for gas, food, and other goods biting into Delaware Valley residents’ budgets.

Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision weighed on the election, causing a rise in Democratic voter registration and driving some women, particularly women in the Delaware Valley suburbs, to the polls. Conversely, the increase in arrests of pro-life activists by the Biden Department of Justice has stirred up passion on the other side of the abortion issue.

And the local reaction to the war in Ukraine is also a concern, with many Ukrainian immigrants living in the area. DVJournal also brought our readers letters from a Ukrainian mother about what it was like to live in that war-torn country.

Amid all the other news vying for attention, the DVJournal has kept its eye on the sad case of the death of Fanta Bility, the 8-year-old girl hit by a bullet fired by police officers. Three Sharon Hill officers pleaded guilty in that case, and a federal lawsuit brought by Bility’s family is pending.

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Will DelVal Residents Purchase Organic Turkeys for Thanksgiving Amid Rising Food Prices?

With Thanksgiving almost upon us, will families splurge on organic turkeys instead of regular ones for the iconic meal.

Inflation has been rising in the Delaware Valley and throughout the U.S. Some families are concerned about whether they can afford to have this alternative turkey. For example, at Whole Foods Market, an Organic Heirloom Whole Turkey is $4.99/lb but offers a discounted price of $2.49/lb for Amazon Prime members.

While most families usually purchase traditional turkeys for Thanksgiving, many stores, including Giant, make sure they have enough in stock well before the holiday season.

“We start working on our turkey order early in the year to make sure we are set to meet the needs of our customers and ordered more turkeys than we sold last year, so we are confident in our supply,” Ashley Flower, spokeswoman for The Giant Company, told PennLive.

DelVal residents also must consider purchasing other side dishes for Thanksgiving. According to a study, Pennsylvania’s spicy candied sweet potatoes (which requires canned sweet potatoes, pecans, pumpkin pie spice, mini marshmallows, and orange juice concentrate) are 10.49 percent more expensive this year. This famous side dish now costs $30.97 this year, compared to $27.72 last year.

While the pandemic impacted the past two Thanksgivings, some families may wait another year to host a large gathering because of the increase in food costs.

Inflation has wreaked havoc on food prices across the country, with a rise of 11.2 percent for  all food costs this September compared to last year. The cost of groceries, in particular soaring by 13 percent, and for this reason, it appears families will sacrifice some of their usual traditional dishes or reduce how many people will be invited to this year’s meal. That is, according to a comprehensive study by Usko, a new free app that lets users analyze their Amazon spending and see how much products they regularly purchase have gone up due to inflation.

The company identified signature Thanksgiving dishes from each state and then broke down the ingredients for each to determine how much more each dish would cost this year compared to last year.

A survey of 1,000 respondents by Usko also revealed that over 21 percent of people believe the higher cost of ingredients would impact their plans this Thanksgiving. Indeed, for those wondering how much they spend either in-store or on sites like Amazon, a quick comparison with last year’s bank statement will likely prompt them to make changes to this year’s Thanksgiving meal. Those respondents also said they would be prepared to cancel the traditional Thanksgiving menu and choose a cheaper and low-cost meal instead.

In addition, over a third of those hosting Thanksgiving, this November plan to invite fewer guests to save money. Of those who are cooking, 68 percent also say they expect to have fewer leftovers this year, given the increasing food.

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TERZIAN: Vote Community First on November 8th

The new Republican Party in Chester County is forward-thinking and has been working hard to reach Chester County residents and engage voters. We are focused on relevant issues important to all Chester County residents, including escalating crime and drugs in our communities, a faltering economy that has caused significant distress for many families, and parents being shut out of decision-making concerning their children’s education.

The new Republican Party in Chester County is solution oriented. We are an inclusive organization. We welcome all those who support our vision to make the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness a reality for all.

Unfortunately, our opponents use highly charged rhetoric to divide us and have embraced failed policies that hurt our community. They use words like “extreme” to label and distract, and vilify those who disagree with them. We have a sitting member of Congress who claims to be bipartisan but called Republicans “diseased” and needing to be “cleansed”. They signal “hate has no home” but do not live up to this mantra. They preach tolerance but are intolerant of dissenting views. We reject their approach.

Our community deserves better.

For the new Republican Party in Chester County, it is about Community First. We understand and respect the value of relationships and working as a team. We believe, as neighbors and people of goodwill, and regardless of political party affiliation, that we can work together to make our communities safer and support the efforts of law enforcement.

We believe in economic opportunity for all and that support for small businesses is essential, particularly after the devastating impact of unreasonable closures. We believe that parents have valid concerns about the educational environment in which their children are being taught and that parents are not “domestic terrorists” when they express these concerns and their right to free speech.

Our opponents have attempted to make the debate about preserving democracy. But preserving democracy requires authentic leadership that invites opposing points of view, seeks to find common ground, and promotes an improved quality of life for all citizens. They have failed to meet this standard.

Clearly, this is a pivotal time for our county, our state, and our nation. All elections matter, but this one is critical. There is much at stake because the direction we choose will have an impact for generations to come.

Chester County residents have an important decision to make on Election Day. Do we continue to elect leaders whose failed policies have led to current problems? Or do we reclaim our communities by voting for candidates who advocate for common-sense solutions and policies that empower individuals, families, and businesses?

The answer is clear. We must elect leaders who prioritize their constituents and not their own personal agendas. On Tuesday, November 8th, the voters of Chester County should reject the status quo of higher crime, higher prices, and higher government interference in our lives. Our Republican slate of candidates from top to bottom will deliver an agenda that empowers and puts people first.

It’s time to restore hope and optimism in our community.

Vote Republican on Tuesday, November 8th.

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WHITE: It’s Time for Voters to Let Democrats Know Enough Is Enough

For an alternate viewpoint see: GUINEY: Your Freedom is on the Ballot This November

Nearly a year ago in December 2021, President Joe Biden declared inflation had peaked at 6.8 percent and predicted it would decline shortly and “rapidly.” In June, seven months later, we saw inflation surge by 9.1 percent. September was not much better, with prices rising 8.2 percent over the prior year. The state of our economy has had far-reaching impacts on working families and our seniors on fixed incomes.

The average 401k has lost 25 percent of its value due to the economic downturn. Since Biden took office, Americans’ monthly savings have fallen 83 percent. Mortgage rates are at 20-year highs, placing the dream of homeownership out of reach for too many individuals. Meanwhile, more than half of workers are seeing their real wages lag behind inflation by 9 percent, the equivalent of losing a full month’s pay.  Economists at the Dallas Federal Reserve have labeled it the “most severe” pay cut in 25 years. With income falling behind the rising cost of goods and services, it’s no wonder that so many Pennsylvanians are struggling.

In the Philadelphia region, electricity costs are up more than 20 percent compared to just one year ago.  The cost to fill up your car or truck at the gas station is nearly 60 percent higher than it was two years ago.  And consumers can expect more bad news in the coming months as home-heating bills are projected to reach a 25-year high. A trip to the grocery store is not much better. Since Biden took office, the price of eggs is up 98 percent, chicken breasts are up 46 percent, bacon is up 27 percent, flour is up 25 percent, and sugar is up 23 percent.

When asked just a couple of weeks ago if he is worried about rising inflation and its impact on families and seniors, Biden dismissed concerns, saying “our economy is strong as hell.” That denial of basic facts, the stubborn blindness to what Americans are seeing and experiencing for ourselves, shows the president and his Democratic allies are truly out of touch.

Rather than put forward real solutions to the problem, Democrats helped fuel the increase in inflation by injecting billions of additional funds into the economy. When that bungled plan did what many economists predicted it would – further fuel inflation increases – the Democrats decided to push through a bill funding a range of pet initiatives under the guise of legislation called the “Inflation Reduction Act.” Even before the bill was signed into law, Democrats were already backpedaling from the bill’s name, admitting that it would do nothing to curb inflation.

To be clear, it’s not just national problems that are causing issues. Amid the pandemic, Gov. Tom Wolf capriciously mandated the closure of tens of thousands of Pennsylvania’s small businesses but allowed big box stores like Kohl’s and Walmart to remain open. Many never fully recovered. Earlier this year, CNN reported that nearly 32 percent of small businesses in Pennsylvania were permanently or temporarily closed compared to January 2020.

Rising inflation, lost 401k savings, and declining real wages aren’t the only challenges Pennsylvanians are facing.  Activist prosecutors who care more about violent criminals than the rights of victims have created a culture where criminals are not being held accountable for their crimes. In Philadelphia, the homicide rate so far this year is 57 percent higher than the same point just three years ago. And we are increasingly seeing the violent crime spill out into suburban communities with carjackings and armed robberies of small businesses. The problem is only further compounded by the lingering impacts of the defund the police movement and the demoralizing effect it had on law enforcement. The result is that many police departments are struggling to fill vacancies. It could not come at a worse time.

The list goes on and on. Parents who were concerned about the failure of schools to return to in-person learning were dismissed and told there would be no impact on the education of children. New federal testing results say otherwise, showing between 2019 and 2021 the largest ever decrease in math scores and significant decreases in reading scores. And at the same time that schools are failing to provide these basic education skills, progressives are continuing to push political ideology in the classroom while refusing to provide parents with transparency on curriculum so that parents know what their children are actually being taught.

A lot has changed in the past two years, and not for the better. It is time for voters to send a clear message to the Democrats at the national, state, and local level. The Democrats claimed that the last presidential and federal elections, which provided them with narrow control of Congress, were a voter “mandate” to implement their radical ideas and increase the control that government exerted over citizens. If Democrats truly want a mandate, now is the time to give them one. Voters need to turn out and make their voices heard, letting Democrats know that enough is enough.

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Dean and Nascimento Square Off in Televised Debate

The candidates for Pennsylvania’s Fourth Congressional District used their debate on WFMZ Channel 69 to remind voters it is possible to practice partisan politics and remain civil.

Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D) and her Republican challenger Christian Nascimento debated issues ranging from the economy to energy to rising crime.

Moderator Jim Vaughn said a recent New York Times poll found 64 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. Nascimento agreed that the country is going in the wrong direction.

“I think that Washington’s instinctive response to spend more and tax more is part of what’s exacerbating the inflation that we see,” said Nascimento. “I think we can fix that.”

Vaughn said, “In poll after poll the one issue voters are concerned about is the economy,” and asked Dean (D-Montgomery/Berks) about her vote for President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

Christian Nascimento and Rep. Madeleine Dean debate.

Dean said, “Inflation is real. We are struggling with it here in America.” But she said it was a worldwide problem. Congress has acted to help, she said. In the Trump administration, the government sent money to people during the COVID pandemic and in the Biden administration, it passed the Inflation Reduction Act.

“This is putting real dollars in people’s pockets,” said Dean. “I was very proud to vote for the inflation Reduction Act and these other bills…I’m really proud of a piece of the Inflation Reduction Act that reduces prescription drug prices for seniors. I’m really proud of the investment in our global climate crisis, the greatest investment of all time…the CHIPS Act that will bring manufacturing of semiconductors right back here.”

She blamed “multiple sources, including corporate greed, the supply chain problem, and a host of other things” for inflation.

Nascimento said, “I think it’s fundamental economics that if government spends more, inflation goes up. Prices get driven up. The inflation we’re facing now is a global issue. Part of it is being caused by supply chain hiccups we’re seeing across the planet and that has come from decisions we’re seeing in Washington and other governments to outsource our supply chain, mostly to China.”

“These prices aren’t sustainable,” Nascimento said. “Inflation is not sustainable for working families. What I would have rather seen done is more strategic efforts on these issues, which we could have addressed. But this massive spending, trillions of dollars of spending that passed in such a short amount of time, is absolutely going to create massive amounts of inflation. And part of the problem, infrastructure spending is going to be around for a long time.”

Dean said the Inflation Reduction Act does not just send dollars out but brings dollars in by allowing the federal government to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs for senior citizens and touted “an investment in IRS.” Constituents call her office every day with problems with the IRS that is underfunded, she said.

She also praised Biden’s release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve while Nascimento panned it.

He said, “I’m concerned about it. The timing’s concerning because it’s designed to help influence an election. But technically, I think the Strategic Reserve is there for strategic reasons and I think we could have gotten there differently in how we talk to fossil fuel companies and how we treated some of the energy providers.

“If we increase production domestically, not forever…that can give us a path to strategically convert our energy to cleaner fuels. What we’re doing now is we’re making fossil fuel companies, the oil companies feel like they’re being under attack. They’re stopping production, which is what you would do if you see a government that’s heading in another direction. And then that sends the president over to the Middle East to beg for oil. And I think that’s a problem for the United States.”

On crime, Nascimento said he had been a victim of an armed robbery and mentioned recent school shootings.

Christian Nascimento

“First of all, we have to prosecute criminals,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you have to throw the book at everybody who has a minor offense. What we see in Reading, what we see in Philadelphia, we’re not prosecuting criminals. I’m honored to have the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police in Montgomery County. What police officers are telling me is they’re afraid to arrest people because they know they’ll be out on the street the next day.”

“We ought to be putting policies in place to help support police officers and hold criminals accountable,” he said. “The congresswoman mentioned the IRS. If we’re going to spend money on federal employees…rather than the IRS, we should spend money on police officers and on teachers that can lift the people of the 4th and whole country up.”

Dean zeroed in on illegal guns.

“Frustrating to me, I’ve cared about the issue of gun violence my entire adult life,” she said, citing a recent shooting in Pottstown that killed two teenagers. “We have a problem with too many illegal guns. We have a problem of children carrying and using illegal guns. Sure, we have to prosecute. But we actually, as legislators, have an obligation to come to the table around gun violence.”

“When we passed universal background checks we couldn’t get support from the other side of the aisle…They constantly say crime is a big problem, but why don’t they come to the table and legislate around guns and illegal guns?” she asked. “So guess what we did? For the first time in 30 years, we Democrats and only a handful of Republicans passed the Safer Communities Act.”

That law outlaws straw purchases and bump stocks, she said. It adds $250 million for community intervention.

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Strategists See ‘Stranger Things’ Scenario in Fight for U.S. Senate

In April, Republican control of the U.S. Senate looked like a lock. In August, all GOP hope appeared lost.

In the past few weeks, however, polls — and the news cycle — have been trending the Republicans’ way. Seven Senate seats are in play according to the RealClearPolitics polling averages: Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Other prognosticators predict fewer states will come down to the wire, as Republicans defend 21 Senate seats and Democrats defend 14 in November. But Republican Party strategist Ford O’Connell says pundits and the press are making the same mistake they have made every two years for a decade now.

Trusting the polls.

“The media’s reliance on GOP suppression polls is nothing new and 2022 is no different,” O’Connell told Inside Sources. “Generally speaking, Republican candidates are underperforming in the polls. That said, if Republicans at the top of the ticket continue to hammer home in unison the rising cost of living, crime, and the need to secure the border, the party will be victorious in November.”

A 2021 investigation by the American Association for Public Opinion Research found polls at both the national and statewide level in 2020 missed races by the biggest margins in decades, and always in the Democrats’ favor. If polling is off by the same margin as two years ago, Republicans are competitive, or better, in all seven of these races.

Events are working in the GOP’s favor, too, said Tim Jones, a former Republican speaker of Missouri’s House of Representatives, now a talk radio host who monitors the national scene. The economy is not likely to improve before the election and the Democrats seem overly reliant on the abortion issue after the Dobbs decision in the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Democrats have stopped talking about COVID. They are not talking about January 6 anymore. They are only talking about abortion,” Jones told Inside Politics shortly after his plane arrived at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Tuesday. “Republicans could be undercounted or maybe just don’t want to be counted.”

Jones suspects the Dobbs decision might have come too early for Democrats.

“When the decision came in June, Democrats predicted the world would end and it would be Handmaiden’s Tale,” Jones said. “Now people are starting to figure out it just means that red states are probably going to have stricter abortion laws and blue states are going to have looser abortion laws.”

And then there is the ‘Stranger Things’ factor, said J. Miles Coleman of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Every election cycle has at least one “Who’da thunk it?” outcome. For 2020, it was Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, surviving; in 2018, it was Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., being booted from office in a national Democrat year, Coleman said.

One potential Senate race surprise could be in Colorado, where Democrat Sen. Michael Bennett is fending off GOP challenger Joe O’Dea.

“Some Republicans think they’ve got a decent shot in Colorado,” Coleman told InsideSources. “We think Michael Bennett is likely to win, but not safe. The GOP nominee there has tried to frame himself as a Republican version of Joe Manchin. Michael Bennett is not as much of a brand in Colorado.”

The UVA Center for Politics’ Crystal Ball ranks Georgia and Nevada as the outright tossups in November. It scores North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio as leaning Republican while Arizona, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania are leaning Democrat.

“Leaning” counts as less than “likely,” on the rating scale.

The Cook Political Report rates four Senate races as tossups: Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Cook, meanwhile, counts Arizona, Colorado, and New Hampshire as leaning Democrat, while putting Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio in the leaning Republican category.

Of the major prognosticators, FiveThirtyEight takes the dimmest view of GOP chances, giving Democrats a two-thirds chance of maintaining control of the Senate based on its statistical modeling.

Among the most closely watched races in Pennsylvania, for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, which presents a pickup opportunity for Democrats.

“If the Republicans win in Pennsylvania, it is all but guaranteed that they will win control of the Senate,” O’Connell said. “There are a number of permutations and combinations that could give Republicans the gavel in the upper chamber without Pennsylvania, but a win in the Keystone State affords them the best opportunity for control.”

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee there, has closed the gap with Democrat Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. But Coleman believes the race is still Fetterman’s to lose.

“Oz’s unfavorables are terrible,” Coleman said. “Fetterman’s unfavorables have gone up, but Oz’s unfavorables are about 50 percent. That’s hard to overcome.”

Of the seven races, New Hampshire is widely viewed as the least likely to flip to the Republicans. Even GOP Gov. Chris Sununu’s expected double-digit victory would not be enough to lift Republican challenger Don Bolduc over incumbent Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan, Coleman said.

“Sununu will likely win, but New Hampshire voters like to split their tickets,” Coleman said. “The Senate Leadership Fund is still spending money there. So, Republicans are not giving up.”

Jones is not so sure. As a former state legislative leader, he sees the popularity of Republican governors as a significant force in these elections. For example, a strong victory by Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp over Democrat challenger Stacey Abrams could be enough to lift embattled Senate nominee Herschel Walker to victory over Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock.

“Gov. Kemp has been up by as much as 8 points. I can’t imagine a world where voters are voting for Kemp and Warnock,” Jones said.

As inflation continues to hit voters in their pocketbooks and President Joe Biden struggles in the polls, some Republicans see the potential of a red wave that could even reach the very blue states of Vermont and Washington, where GOP candidates are in striking distance in polls. But O’Connell is doubtful.

“Stranger things have happened, but for the GOP to pick up Senate seats in Vermont and Washington, the floodgates would really have to open up,” O’Connell said. “I’m not saying those races don’t merit our attention, but the most important races with less than 30 days to go are—Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.

“In recent weeks the Democrats have backtracked on the map and poured more resources into both Senate and House races that they weren’t as focused on over the summer. That’s a good sign for Republicans.”

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Inflation Hits DelVal Businesses, Consumers

Philadelphia may have the best football and baseball teams in America right now, but when it comes to inflation, the Delaware Valley is in the same league as the rest of the U.S.

In September, America’s annual rate of inflation was 8-2 percent, despite major increases in interest rates by the federal reserve designed to cool off red-hot price hikes.

The U.S. Labor Department released its September inflation report, with more bad news for Americans suffering from historic price hikes on everything from groceries to home heating fuel. Inflation in the past year was worse than expected with increases in gasoline (+18.2 percent), fuel oil (+58.1 percent), electricity (15.5 percent), groceries (+13 percent), meat, poultry, fish +(7.7 percent), milk (+15.2 percent), eggs (+30.5 percent), baby food (+11.8 percent), airline fares (+42.9 percent). At the same time, real average hourly earnings were -3 percent.

That is certainly the case for area restaurants, said Ben Fileccia, senior vice president of strategic engagement of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, He told DVJournal inflation has sent prices for staples like frying oil flying up 100 percent. The cost of chicken wings has doubled or tripled, and labor costs are also up 10 to 15 percent as restaurants struggle to retain well-qualified workers.

“Restaurants are limited in raising menu prices because of a delicate balance between price increases and the low 2 to 7 percent profit margin that exists in the industry. The intent is to provide customers with a pleasant dining experience without it costing an exorbitant amount,” he said.

Fileccia added the pandemic lockdowns effects are still lingering as well as restaurants opened and closed. “It is taking time to regain losses for the industry, perhaps as much as a two-year process to recover, with certain unpredictability. In light of this mitigation, there has been a 20 percent loss in the number of restaurants closed in Pennsylvania, above the national average.”

He added the $1 billion Federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund did help restore some restaurants, but only 30 percent of restaurants in the commonwealth received that funding.

The housing market has also been hit by inflation and efforts to bring it under control.

Mortgage rates are currently at their highest levels in almost two decades, approaching seven percent. That has slowed home purchases, and in some cases caused prices to fall. Some real estate experts think house prices and rents will fall throughout the U.S. in the coming several months.

Delaware Valley real estate market home values have risen 13.7 percent over the past inflationary year. Zillow Home Value Forecast predicts they will rise another 8.7 percent in the next 12 months.

The real estate market has shrunk because there are fewer listings and even fewer buyers. Debbie McCabe, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors, said “the housing inventory right now is at an all-time low. There are buyers still out there, but only if they can afford it.”

First-time home buyers are in the wait-and-see mode, pausing. But the second and third-time buyers are downsizing and may need a mortgage.

“They are seeking the top dollar for their 2-3 bedroom homes while finding the best mortgage interest rate deal. It’s the real estate cycle,” she said.

McCabe said we are now facing a “new normal” due to high inflation and lower inventory available. However, rental prices for property are higher now, but more stable in the Delaware Valley region than in most parts of the country.

“I believe the outlook is positive because people are adjusting to higher interest rates. The desire to move to different housing has never stopped, although people remain cautious. Working from home also has a significant impact on home ownership. People still value home ownership. That idea continues,” she noted. She predicted the spring 2023 market will be strong.


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McGARRIGLE: Why Voters Should Vote For Republicans

EDITOR’S NOTE: For another view, see “Valyo: Vote for Democrats to Preserve Democracy.”


This November, voters in Delaware County, and all across Pennsylvania and the United States of America, should choose the Republican candidates when they cast their vote in this year’s General Election. The Republican candidates are the only ones who have been consistently focused on the issues that are impacting our day-to-day lives; inflation, energy cost, crime, education, and restarting our economy. Additionally, many of these issues we are facing can be directly tied back to Democrat-championed policies and initiatives.

For example, the steadily-rising crime and murder rates we are seeing in Philadelphia are a direct result of Democratic officials, like District Attorney Larry Krasner, choosing to embrace criminals and turn their back on crime victims. We also saw many Democrats who hold local, state, or federal offices calling for policing to be “reimagined” and for the police to be defunded.

As a result of that, criminals now feel emboldened and empowered because they know there will be little-to-no consequences if caught. We have also begun to see the crime begin to spill over into Delaware County from the city of Philadelphia, something that Republicans have warned about for years.

If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, you’ve probably noticed you are paying more for fewer items. Inflation is hitting everyone’s wallets, and without electing fiscally-responsible Republican candidates inflation will only continue to grow worse. The Democrat’s belief that “if we spend more money, inflation will go away,” has been proven wrong time and again. Once again, inflation has not gone away, and without a change in how we address the problem, it will only continue to get worse.

The increased cost of gasoline and other energy sources can be directly tied to the Democrats’ unwavering war on energy. Democrats believe that this is a zero-sum game: you can either have a clean and healthy environment, or you can have a society that depends on fossil fuels. Republicans on the other hand understand that we can use fossil fuels while also protecting our environment, with the use of sensible regulations and incentives for using alternative energy, not burdensome regulations and fees for using fossil fuels.

Republicans are also committed to ensuring that every child gets a quality education, and most importantly, that they have the choice to attend a school that best suits them. Education is not a “one size fits all” issue, which was made even clearer by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our children are still feeling the negative educational, developmental, and social impacts of the lockdowns, and numerous studies have been released detailing the true impact of these closures.

The issues at stake in this year’s election are too important for voters to stay home. If you are tired of paying high prices for gas and food, feeling unsafe in your community, and being concerned about whether your child is getting a quality education, then I implore you to find out about the Republican candidates in your area and to get out and vote for them.

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