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As Winter Approaches, Some DelVal Residents Fear Diesel Shortage

Joe Biden’s Democratic Party may have dodged a political bullet on Tuesday, but it didn’t escape ongoing high diesel prices.

The Energy Information Administration reports supplies of heating oil and diesel are at their lowest in more than 70 years. The first week in October, the average price of home heating oil in Pennsylvania was $4.76 a gallon. By November 7 it was $5.86 a gallon. There are reports of delivery delays, price spikes, and even a shortage of trucks to deliver diesel. At least one supplier required a 72-hour notice for fuel delivery.

Delaware County resident Richard Pruett is concerned about food and other supplies.

“Without diesel, you do not have trucks,” said Pruett. “Without trucks, you do not have deliveries. Without deliveries, you do not have food. You do not have anything.”

Joe Ritter lives in Philadelphia where he drives both a truck and a bus. Ritter said his employers were having problems in the last year keeping trucks filled. One company had to find another supplier as a result.

“Tanks were not getting completely filled and the costs for diesel has also been an issue.”

How did we get here? Patrick De Haan of Gas Buddy said there are many reasons, beginning with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia produces a lot of heavy oil and products like diesel.

With Europe trying to wean itself from Russia’s energy production, the EU is having to rely on producers such as the United States. That has created a tremendous jump in demand for non-Russian oil.

“That, combined with a loss in refining capacity that the U.S. has experienced over the last few years, partially due to COVID, have made this a particularly challenging situation,” said De Haan. “Supply is very low amidst Europe trying to move away from Russia and because of a lack of refiners’ ability to produce as much diesel.”

Another factor is dropping temperatures in parts of the country causing an increase in heating oil consumption. Before Election Day had arrived, AccuWeather had already issued a blizzard warning extending from California to the Dakotas.

De Haan called the current situation a “perfect storm where prices are high, supply is low, and refineries don’t have much ability to produce more.”

Ritter said he believes the Biden administration could be doing more and accused the mainstream media of playing down the problem.

“If it were Trump, they’d be railing the [expletive] out of him,” Ritter said.

Pruett feels the same way, adding, “Leftist news channels are absolutely out of touch.” If you ask Pruett, they do not want to pay attention.

“It is very, very scary times that we’re headed into here,” he said.

If Biden is making oil production a priority, he is keeping it a secret. Over last weekend, Biden — who wants to fight man-made climate change by lowering emissions and greater use of alternative energy technologies — responded to a heckler by saying that there will be “no more drilling.”

The White House promptly tried to walk back the president’s statement, with Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre telling a reporter Biden was asked about new drilling in the Arctic and there is “no shortage of opportunity for companies to produce oil here in the United States.”

Republicans responded with videos of both candidate and President Biden saying, “We’re going to end fossil fuels.” There was even a clip of CNN personality Dana Bash asking Biden in a debate if there would be any place for fossil fuels in a Biden administration.

Biden’s answer? “No, we would work it out, we would make sure it’s eliminated.”

That can only mean one thing, said Dan Kish of the Institute for Energy Research. Oil companies continue to operate in a hostile environment under this administration.

“Diesel runs our nation, transporting all of our agricultural and manufactured goods, and forms of diesel include jet fuel and kerosene,” said Kish. “The United States is a huge country and diesel is the most efficient way of moving it, so when it gets short in supply or higher in price, the cost of everything goes up.”

More refineries would help, but Kish said it won’t happen as long as the president continues his attacks on oil production and fossil fuels.

“No one will invest $10 billion in a refinery that will never get paid off, and that can take decades.”

 

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Biden’s Energy Policy Blunders Create Headaches for PA Dems

President Joe Biden’s comments about energy policy the weekend before Election Day raised questions about his party’s leadership on a key issue as temperatures drop and heating bills rise. His latest missteps, critics say, reflect Biden’s overall energy policy failures.

On Saturday, Biden stunned coal-country allies like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) by announcing coal-fired power plants will be “shutting down.”

Biden followed up on Sunday by promising progressive students at Sarah Lawrence College, “no more drilling…there is no more drilling…I haven’t formed any new drilling.”

Republicans immediately linked Biden’s comments to vulnerable Democrats like U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman.

“Like almost every issue, John Fetterman and Tim Ryan are frauds when it comes to energy policy,” said Chris Hartline with the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “Despite their lies on the campaign trail, they’re all in with Joe Biden to reduce domestic energy production, eliminate fossil fuels, end fracking and shut down coal plants.

“At least Joe Manchin has the balls to occasionally stand up to Joe Biden on energy,” Hartline added. “Can’t say the same about John Fetterman and Tim Ryan.”

The White House quickly walked back Biden’s comments, but members of the energy sector say it is part of the administration’s long-standing anti-fossil-fuel energy policy that began when he first took office.

For example, last week Biden took another shot at oil companies, saying they have been making record profits from things such as the Russia-Ukraine war and can afford to bring down prices.

“In the last six months, six of the largest oil companies have made more than $100 billion,” said Biden, standing with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. “I think it’s outrageous what their – the – size of the profit.”

If oil companies passed that on to consumers, Biden claimed the price of gas would decrease by around 50 cents. Consumers might appreciate that, especially with the national average for a gallon of regular at $3.75. At this time last year, the national average was $3.40.

“They have a responsibility to act in the interest of their consumers, their community, and their country, to invest in America by increasing production and refining capacity,” said Biden about oil and gas companies. “If they don’t, they’re going to pay a higher tax on their excess profits and face other restrictions.”

American Petroleum Institute (API) president Mike Sommers was not holding back his thoughts on Biden’s remarks. Speaking Tuesday at a press call, Sommers told reporters Biden “repeated the same debunked assertions he’s made in the past” and again arrived at a policy proposal that Sommers said would do the exact opposite of what would help U.S. families and businesses.

“Increasing taxes on American energy discourages investment in new production, which is the exact opposite of what we need to do,” said Sommers. “Oil companies do not set prices. Global commodity markets do, (and) canceling pipelines, increasing duplicative regulations, asking foreign producers to increase oil production, or more baseless accusations of price gouging all send the wrong signal to the markets, and to the American energy producers working every day to provide the fuels we all need.”

Progressives praised Biden’s comments. In a tweet, Occupy Democrats said Biden brought down the “hammer on oil companies for gouging Americans,” and that they should stop war profiteering.

“The American people are going to judge who’s standing with them and who is only looking out for their own bottom line,” said Biden.

Some Republicans said Biden’s release of oil preserves was designed to win votes, not solve policy problems. API has released a “10 in 2022: Ten Policies to Unleash American Energy and Fuel Recovery” plan. API’s Frank Macchiarola said it could spur nearly $200 billion in direct investment, generate over 225,000 jobs by 2035, and support production growth in things such as natural gas and oil.

“America can continue to be the world’s energy leader, but it’s going to take solutions,” said Macchiarola. “To date, the Biden administration has made unfounded claims of price gouging, emptied one-third of the supplies in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, unsuccessfully asked OPEC to increase supplies two years in a row and now it’s proposing to tax U.S. companies competing globally, (but) that’s not a plan.”

The 10-point plan calls for things such as lifting development restrictions on federal lands and waters, fixing the permitting process to speed things up, accelerating liquified natural gas (LNG) exports, and advancing the energy workforce of the future by pushing and supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs to “nurture the skills necessary to construct and operate oil, natural gas, and other energy infrastructure.”

For an energy-rich state such as Pennsylvania, the 10-point plan could do a lot.

“Pennsylvania sits atop a portion of the Marcellus shale, the largest estimated proved reserves of any U.S. natural gas field. But limited pipeline takeaway capacity has constrained production in recent years and driven prices higher in consuming regions that lack sufficient access to these resources,” said API Pennsylvania Executive Director Stephanie Catarino Wissman. “Enabling the construction of previously canceled and currently stalled pipeline projects could support additional supply from the Appalachia region to key U.S. Northeast and Southeast markets.”

David N. Taylor, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association is interested, and not just for his industry but all industries.

“Energy independence is critical for American national security,” said Taylor. “At every opportunity, the Biden administration has sought to suppress domestic energy production, whether by killing the Keystone XL pipeline, yanking leases in Alaska, banning the harvesting of energy on federal lands, stacking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), or villainizing domestic energy and the Americans who produce it.”

Referring to Biden’s international requests for oil-producing countries to increase their production and help combat rising prices, Taylor said Biden would rather reward enemies of democracy like Venezuela than permit increased energy production here at home.

“Joe Biden has no idea what he’s talking about.”

Obama, Biden Rally DelVal Dems to Back Fetterman, Shapiro

If anyone doubted Pennsylvania is Ground Zero for the 2022 election, the events on the final Saturday before the midterm elections left no doubt. The current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and two previous tenants came to the state to campaign for their favored candidates for governor and senator.

Former President Trump was in Latrobe to rally with Republican senatorial candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano. President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama came to the Liacouras Center at Temple University to rally for Democrats John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro before a largely young crowd.

President Joe Biden

Like a clean-up hitter, Obama spoke last.

He urged the crowd to vote, lashed out at the Republicans, and bemoaned the 2014 midterms when Democrats lost the Senate.

“Midterms are always hard for which every party is in the White House, and typically midterms are tougher on Democrats. A lot of folks don’t pay attention to politics the way they do in a presidential year. In fact, maybe they don’t know Congress matters…Young people, especially, are less likely to vote in midterms, and that hurts Democrats. Young people tend to be more progressive. I can tell you from experience that midterms matter a lot. Some of you are too young (to know).

“When I was president, I was elected in the midst of a financial crisis. We did the right thing to get the economy back on track, but it was hard, and people were frustrated just like they are now. Sometimes it takes a while for things to settle down, so in 2010 we lost the House. And then, in 2014, even though now the economy was improving, we saw the lowest voting rate in modern history, and because of it, we lost the Senate.”

So, his agenda on guns, climate change, and immigration reform stalled, he said.

Former President Barack Obama

“Sometimes I like to imagine what it would have been like if enough people had turned out to vote in those elections,” said Obama. “If we had maintained control of the House and maintained control of the Senate.”

It was clear from the loud and sustained applause he garnered Obama is still a Democratic Party rock star.

Biden mentioned his childhood in Scranton and that First Lady Jill Biden is from Philadelphia.

He told the audience of several thousand they have the power to make “John Fetterman your next United States Senator and Josh Shapiro your next governor in three days.”

“Your right to choose is on the ballot, your right to vote is on the ballot, Social Security and Medicare are on the ballot. And something else is on the ballot. Character. Character is on the ballot. When I think of character, I think of John Fetterman…John Fetterman is Pennsylvania.”

“I lived in Pennsylvania longer than Oz has lived in Pennsylvania, and I moved away when I was 10 years old,” said Biden.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman

“Courage is also on the ballot,” he said. “When I think of courage, I think of Josh Shapiro…He stood up for the people of this state, and he’s going to be a fantastic governor.”

Fetterman mentioned that he is recovering from a stroke and gave his standard stump speech, taking shots at Oz, eliciting boos from the crowd.

Oz “likes to pander,” said Fetterman.  “I want to get this off my chest. Wawa is so much better than Sheetz.”

He said Oz would be on a stage with Trump and Mastriano, but “we are 100 percent sedition free,” an allusion to the Jan. 6 riots. Earlier in the day, when Fetterman made that same statement in Pittsburgh, the wind blew down the American flags behind him.

Fetterman said that he would vote to “codify Roe v. Wade” and to be the 51st vote to end the filibuster and “fundamentally change America.”

He also promised to ban “assault weapons.”

Shapiro said if elected, he would increase spending on public school education and teachers’ pay, start an apprentice program for high school students and remove the requirement of a college degree for thousands of state government jobs.

He said he “dedicated himself to public service” for his four children. He worries about their climate, their safety, and that they have “fewer opportunities than the world I was blessed to be born into.”

He also cited his Jewish faith where no one is required to complete the task of improving the world but “neither are we free to refrain from it.”

Shapiro promised to make sure that every child “has a safe community to live in.”

Attorney General Josh Shapiro

Shapiro also spoke about abortion, saying Mastriano would take that freedom from women, while he promised to veto any bill that would restrict it. Mastriano has said that while he opposes abortion, as governor he does not have the power to ban it. That would be up to the legislature.

Shapiro called his opponent extreme. However, during the primary Shapiro funded commercials that boosted Mastriano’s primary campaign, a move made by Democratic candidates across the country to pick the opponents they believed were easiest to beat.

Shapiro also mentioned Mastriano went to Washington D.C. on Jan. 6 and “he plans to decertify voting machines…Probably the ones here in Philadelphia. Are we going to let him get away with that? That is not how our democracy works.”

“It’s not freedom to tell women what to do with their bodies,” said Shapiro. “It’s not freedom to tell children what books they’re allowed to read.”

Delaware Valley parents have been objecting to obscene books in public school libraries, such as “Gender Queer.” Mastriano has sided with those parents.

Earlier in the rally, lieutenant governor candidate state Rep. Austin Davis (D-McKeesport) spoke about being the son of a bus driver and hairdresser, the first in his family to go to college.

“I’m going to be the first Black lieutenant governor,” Davis said.

Gov. Tom Wolf also spoke about abortion and touted the state surplus that he will leave the next governor.

And Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) accused Republicans of being about “fear, smear, and divide.”  He urged the crowd to vote for Democrats.

“Let’s win in 2022,” Casey said.

Biden Adamant, PA Dems Silent on Windfall Tax Targeting Energy Companies

With the 1980 election approaching, a desperate President Jimmy Carter — underwater in the polls — signed into law the Crude Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act. It put a 70 percent tax on the “excess profits” from selling a barrel of oil for more than $12.81 (about $46 today). His goal was to bring down record gas and energy prices.

It didn’t work.

On Monday President Joe Biden — who was serving his second term in the U.S. Senate in 1980 — turned to the same strategy in similar circumstances. He urged Congress to pass a bill taxing oil and gas producers for what he calls “windfall profits.”

“Their profits are a windfall of war, the windfall from the brutal conflict that’s ravaging Ukraine and hurting tens of millions of people around the globe,” Biden said.

It is an idea many economists say is counterproductive to the goal of lowering consumer costs.

Economist Larry Summers served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations.

“I’m not sure (I) understand the argument for a windfall profits tax on energy companies,” he said via Twitter. “If you reduce profitability, you will discourage investment which is the opposite of our objective.”

Not surprisingly, the energy industry opposes the idea.

“Rather than taking credit for price declines and shifting blame for price increases, the Biden administration should get serious about addressing the supply and demand imbalance that has caused higher gas prices and created long-term energy challenges,” American Petroleum Institute president and CEO Mike Sommers said in a statement. “Oil companies do not set prices—global commodities markets do. Increasing taxes on American energy discourages investment in new production, which is the exact opposite of what is needed. American families and businesses are looking to lawmakers for solutions, not campaign rhetoric.”

And then there is the political question: How can you say you’re trying to lower the price of gas and heating oil when you are raising taxes on the companies who produce it?

Pennsylvania Democrats appear to have their doubts. None of the candidates contacted by Delaware Valley Journal about Biden’s proposal would respond to questions. That includes Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks), Mary Gay Scanlon (Delaware/Philadelphia), Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery/Berks).

But Fetterman has called out oil companies in the past, accusing them of “gouging” consumers and suggesting legal restrictions on how they invest their profits.

“Big Oil just made another round of record profits by gouging Americans at the gas pump,” Fetterman said last week. “And instead of investing that money in American energy production and lowering costs for families, companies are paying themselves through stock buybacks and keeping prices high to line their own pockets. This practice should be severely restricted.”

“Gas still costs almost $4 a gallon in Pennsylvania. We need lower prices now, and we need to take action,” Fetterman said.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, Fetterman’s GOP opponent, did not respond to a request for comment.

Republican Guy Ciarrocchi, who is challenging Houlahan, said attempting to regulate and restrict your way to lower energy costs makes no sense.

“Congresswoman Houlahan and her allies have allowed Biden to go down this dangerous path of angry rhetoric, higher taxes, and strangling American energy production,” said Republican Guy Ciarrocchi.   “Thankfully, the answer is energy right in our grasp—in Alaska, the Dakotas, Canada, the Gulf, and even here in Pennsylvania. We can increase supply, lower prices, create jobs, improve the environment and make us safe from tyrants and dictators.

“Biden and Houlahan won’t do it. But I’m going to be part of a Republican Congress that will force (Biden) into reality,” Ciarrocchi added.

Analysis of Carter’s 1980 windfall profits tax found that it decreased domestic energy production and increased reliance on imported oil. According to the Congressional Research Service, the tax reduced domestic production by as much as 8 percent from 1980 to 1988 when it was repealed in part because “it made the United States more dependent on foreign oil.”

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PA Republicans React to Biden Visit on Thursday

President Joe Biden came to Pennsylvania on Thursday to campaign for Democrats. But Republican Guy Ciarrocchi wants to talk about what’s coming to the Philly suburbs: Crime.

“It’s not about what’s happening in New York,” said Ciarrocchi, the GOP candidate in the Sixth Congressional District. “It’s very real in our district. Violent crime has come to the suburbs.”

While the president was in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to boost embattled U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman, Ciarrocchi joined fellow Republican nominees Rep. Dan Meuser (PA-9) and Jeremy Shaffer (PA-17) at a press briefing to call out the Democrats’ record.

The Biden administration has “managed to harm every sector of the economy,” said Ciarrocchi. “From families who’ve managed to save for the future, whether was for a daughter’s wedding or their retirement, they’ve seen up to a third of that savings wiped away as the stock market has fallen. Young families who were saving for their first homes are now looking at mortgage rates…escalating.”

Ciarrocchi said his home is heated with natural gas, and the price is going up 81 percent. People using heating oil are seeing a 300 percent increase.

“These folks want answers,” said Ciarrocchi. “They want to know how they’re going to pay their bills this winter.”

Meuser said the GOP’s message in the final weeks of the campaign centers on high inflation, now at 11 percent in Pennsylvania. “We’ve got consumer demand way up and supply way down,” he said. “I promise we’re not going to raise taxes on American businesses.”

On energy, Meuser said Biden repeated the GOP complaint about his refusal to issue permits for drilling. According to The Wall Street Journal, Biden has slashed the number of acres leased for energy exploration at this point in a presidency by 97 percent.

“So, you have people hurting here in Pennsylvania, and you have President Biden eating an ice cream cone,” said Meuser, “telling us the economy is ‘strong as hell.’”

The Delaware Valley Journal asked Ciarrocchi what he would do to bring down inflation.

“It begins with American energy,” he said. “The president announced to the world we’re going to try and get out of the fossil fuel business and then canceled a series of projects, most notably the Keystone XL pipeline. And then, as we learned today, there are up to 4,000 permits being slow rolled by the federal government.

“So, what the president needs to do, what Congress under Republicans will force him to do, is to announce we’re back in the fossil fuel business. Americans will not be dependent on Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Russia,” Ciarrocchi said.

Shaffer, an entrepreneur and software engineer is a political newcomer, as is his Democratic opponent Chris Deluzio in their western Pennsylvania race. Shaffer hit high energy costs as well, and all three Republicans called out Democratic reluctance to develop the Keystone State’s energy resources.

“Right beneath our feet in western Pennsylvania and so much of Pennsylvania, we have the solution,” said Meuser. “We sit on the Saudi Arabia of natural gas, one of the world’s largest energy reserves.”

But, he noted, Biden did not talk about that when he came to Pittsburgh. Instead, the president begged Saudi Arabia for more oil and is draining “our strategic petroleum reserves in a reckless way,” said Shaffer.

Asked about the Democrats’ emphasis on abortion rights, Ciarrocchi argued they are missing the mark.

“It’s not only the president, it’s a cookie-cutter campaign that most of them are using in open seats and races like mine with a challenger,” said Ciarrocchi. “I think the more they do it. They just appear to be out of touch. And it’s obvious that they’re using a political wedge issue.”

Fetterman Gets Fundraising Help from Sanders, Biden

Despite supporting each other previously, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman has not been much of a Bernie Bro in 2022.

But with Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz closing in the polls, the Fetterman campaign is pulling out all the stops. A new Trafalgar Group poll has Fetterman at 47.2 and Oz at 44.8. Libertarian Erik Gerhardt was at 3.4 percent.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent out fundraising text messages on Friday asking people to send Fetterman $10 because Fetterman will “stand up to corporate greed and bigotry.”

Sanders, an avowed socialist who honeymooned in the Soviet Union, said in the text Fetterman “will transform this country and the lives of the working class.”

Fetterman endorsed Sanders when he ran for president in 2016, but did not in 2020. And Sanders had boosted Fetterman’s unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate and his successful run for lieutenant governor.

When asked about being a progressive in the primary, Fetterman, said that he was “just a Democrat.”

But Fetterman has also been endorsed by progressive luminary Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Now Fetterman is bringing in President Joe Biden to a fundraiser on Oct. 20. This even though Biden himself is increasingly unpopular with rising inflation, a war in Ukraine, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and rising crime rates dogging him. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed 55 percent of Americans disapprove of Biden’s performance.

When asked about Fetterman bringing in both Sanders and Biden, Jeff Jubelirer, vice president of Bellevue Communications Group, said, “I’d say that it’s more ‘all hands on deck’ raising money and generating enthusiasm among the different constituencies of the Democratic electorate (the progressive wing – Sanders; and the more traditional/moderate wing – Biden) ahead of the election.

“As Election Day gets closer, I’m confident we will see the candidates doing all they can to ensure they turn out their biggest supporters, which are their party loyalists,” said Jubelirer.

The Fetterman campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

“John Fetterman is falling behind so he’s resorting to desperate lies and cheap distractions. Unlike no-show Fetterman, Dr. Oz is talking to voters – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – who want to see a change from the failed policies of the past. Dr. Oz is running against the most pro-murderer candidate, and we are going to win in November because Pennsylvanians can’t afford a Bernie Sanders socialist that wants to release 1/3 of Pennsylvania inmates, decriminalize all drugs, and eliminate life sentences for murderers. John Fetterman has already failed to serve the voters of Pennsylvania twice – why would they give him a third chance?” asked Brittany Yanick, communications director for Dr. Oz for Senate.

Fetterman gave a brief, 15-minute speech to an enthusiastic crowd in Bucks County last weekend. He acknowledged that he had a stroke in April and is “so grateful to be here today.”

He promised to support the Pro Act that would make it easier to unionize, to expand healthcare, to vote to legalize abortion nationwide, support veterans, raise the minimum wage, and to do away with the Senate filibuster. While he did not mention his more controversial positions concerning legalizing marijuana, he said he is running on his record of fighting crime as a mayor of a small town in western Pennsylvania.

Braddock “we went more than five years without a murder,” Fetterman said. He also did not mention his votes as chairman of the state Board of Pardons to free convicted murderers.

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KRUCKENBERG: Student Debt Cancellation Plan Is Flatly Unconstitutional

When President Biden was asked at a 2021 town hall event about canceling student debt, he doubted it could be done without working through Congress: “I don’t think I have the authority to do it by signing with a pen,” the president said.

But in August, Biden unveiled his plan to grant up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness to 40 million student debtors. He didn’t bother “signing it with a pen,” announcing the program to grant more than $400 billion by press release — forgoing even the notice-and-comment procedures ordinarily required by law.

Biden should have stuck with his first instinct, which was correct: the president does not have the authority to launch a massive debt-cancellation initiative unilaterally without congressional authorization. That’s why the Pacific Legal Foundation, the public interest law firm where I work, has filed a federal lawsuit to halt the unconstitutional scheme.

Canceling student debt was a central plank of Biden’s platform in his 2020 presidential campaign. But since many members of Congress of both parties were uneasy about shifting to taxpayers the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars in loans, the administration hatched a plan to go around the legislative branch.

Biden’s team points to a 2003 law, the HEROES Act, that allowed the government to modify loans to assist military personnel and their families during war or national emergencies. They argue that the law empowers the president to cancel student debt due to the COVID-19 emergency. The text of the law defies that claim, and the “emergency” claim is even shakier, given that Biden himself declared just a few weeks ago in a “60 Minutes” interview that the pandemic emergency is over.

Biden’s plan has several problems, from its jaw-dropping price tag to the fact that it does nothing to address the root causes of how student debt became such a problem in the first place. Moreover, the hasty and haphazard unveiling of the plan just weeks before hotly contested midterm elections suggests the proposal is driven more by political calculation than sound policy. That is perhaps why the administration did not consider that for many borrowers, including the lead plaintiff in our lawsuit, the cancellation program, which was promised to “automatically” apply to millions of people, would result in a new tax bill that exceeds any benefit they will receive from the loan forgiveness.

Less than 48 hours after we filed our lawsuit, the Department of Education changed course to say it would not “automatically” cancel loans for borrowers already in their system, allowing some to opt-out, and excluded more than 700,000 borrowers from cancellation. These two staggeringly large changes to the program came via silent revisions to a Department of Education website. Although the White House began its “rollout” program last week, there is still no binding documentation for how this half-a-trillion-dollar program will work.

Moreover, both changes were designed to frustrate legal challenges and avoid the likelihood that a court would find the plan illegal. Nowhere in its recent backtracking has the administration contested its unconstitutionality.

Under our constitutional system of government, Congress makes the law and sets spending priorities through the budgeting and appropriations processes. The president executes that law. This arrangement is part of the separation of powers that ensures transparency and accountability to the public. Biden’s unilateral decision to sidestep Congress and add hundreds of billions of dollars to the already crushing national debt, without public comment or legislative consideration, is a serious abuse of executive power.

To be sure, Biden didn’t invent the abuse of emergency powers and executive orders — every recent Republican or Democratic president has done it. Just two years ago, President Trump imposed a nationwide eviction moratorium during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic emergency that was one of the most blatant abuses of executive power in recent memory — which Pacific Legal Foundation also challenged in court.

If canceling student loan debt is a good idea, the president should present his proposal to Congress, have it handled through the legislative process, sign it into law, and then implement it through executive branch agencies. That’s how it is supposed to work — and our lawsuit is aimed at enforcing the Constitution’s separation of powers.

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Biden College Debt Bailout Backed By Local Students, but Its Future is Uncertain  

President Joe Biden’s announcement of student debt forgiveness last month is set to give current college students and those still struggling with debt some relief. Delaware Valley college attendees said they are thankful, but they add even more needs to be done.

Biden’s plan would relieve $10,000 in student debt for all borrowers making less than $125,000 as an individual or $250,000 per year as a household. That figure can rise to as much as $20,000 in debt for those receiving Pell Grants, a loan typically provided to lower-income households.

Faia Kronick, a senior at Bryn Mawr College, said she was surprised by the announcement.

“Biden did say he was going to address student debt, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen,” Kronick said. Biden’s own skepticism toward a forgiveness plan even as early as this year fed into that uncertainty. However, if the plan is implemented, Kronick would have all her debt forgiven.

“It seemed like the president wasn’t actually going to do what he said,” Victoria Awotide, a junior at Eastern University, said, expressing similar surprise that the move was finally taken.

Half of Awotide’s debt is set to be forgiven. She said that would take a burden off her in the future. She hoped she won’t have to take on jobs she does not like just so she can pay off her loans.

She has already worked at two part-time jobs since freshman year to lessen the burden but said that hasn’t made a huge dent despite pay being above minimum wage. But she hopes it helps her mother the most, who also has tried to help pay off the loans.

“It would be a huge relief for her, she’s a single mom,” Awotide said.

Kronick agreed a major burden would be removed from her future, as she would no longer have to include it when balancing her checkbook. However, she said she feels for her peers, many of whom still will have large debts remaining even after the forgiveness plan takes effect.

“I think they should just cancel all student debt,” Kronick said, believing there should be more done. “A lot of people have a lot more than $10,000 or $20,000 in debt. So while it’s still good, they should have done more.”

Awotide expressed a similar concern about the one-time nature of the program. She said she could end up having another $10,000 to pay by the time she graduates, meaning she would be right back where she started before the debt relief plan began.

However, the loan forgiveness program may not happen. Legal challenges are expected, which some experts argue must be approved by Congress, rather than ordered by the president.

Reflecting the nature of that uncertainty is the lack of plan local schools have for promoting the program to students.

All local schools who responded to DVJ’s requests for comment declined to say how their financial aid offices plan to help their qualifying students receive relief, and none of their websites detailed anything either.

Plus, not all the reception to the plan has been friendly. Some Americans argue they paid off their loans, so why shouldn’t the following generations do the same?

Awotide and Kronick both believe people should have more compassion for those in the current situation, and instead celebrate something that they think will help so many people struggling today.

“I don’t think anyone loses when other people win,” Kronick said. “We all benefit when other people around us live a quality life.”

That view is disputed by many Americans who would foot the bill, estimated to be as high as $1 trillion by the Penn Wharton Budget Model, to cover the cost of the loans. A new poll released by the libertarian Cato Institute found 76 percent of Americans oppose transferring college debts to taxpayers if it drives up the price of college. And 64 percent are against it if it raises taxes.

Meanwhile, Awotide says she thinks it is a sign that the government and politicians may keep to the promises they make to their constituents, even if it may be done for politically motivated reasons such as the upcoming midterm elections or Biden’s re-election bid.

“It just could be a tactic to get re-elected in 2024,” she said. “But for now at least, it kind of shows that the government is actually planning on (doing) what they said.”

OZ: Biden’s Visit Highlights Democrats’ Failures

President Joe Biden’s recent visit to the region doesn’t mean anything new for Pennsylvanians. Today, we are still being slammed by record inflation, sky-high gas prices, violent crime and drugs in our communities, and misguided Washington policies that continue to hurt Main Street Pennsylvania.

John Fetterman decided against campaigning with President Biden, which means one of three things: He doesn’t want to appear with one of the least popular presidents in decades, he believes he can campaign from his basement so he doesn’t have to talk to voters about his radical liberal policies like releasing one-third of the prison population, or he’s lying about his ability to campaign.

The liberal media won’t put pressure on Fetterman to debate, which is a rite of passage to becoming a U.S. senator, and they refuse to question why he isn’t campaigning. We witnessed it with Biden’s 2020 basement campaign and John Fetterman is using the same campaign playbook. Fetterman ignored minority communities during the primary and continues to avoid having to publicly explain his far-left policies to voters.

If either Joe Biden or John Fetterman had seen, firsthand, how their radical agenda drives prices for gas and groceries through the roof, puts criminals over our communities, harms student achievement in our schools, and promotes sanctuary cities for dangerous illegal immigrants, they would realize that our communities are truly suffering under their disastrous policies.

In recent years, radical policies like defunding the police and cashless bail – coupled with soft-on-crime district attorneys who are handing out weak sentences – have dismantled decades of progress in cities across America. For example, in previously safe neighborhoods of Philadelphia – like West Philly where I once lived as a University of Pennsylvania medical student – residents are experiencing year after year of tragic milestones of record violent crime and an alarming decline in police morale.

Unfortunately, we have been experiencing these alarming trends in communities large and small, and oftentimes in places where elected officials promote policies that fly in the face of community safety and the rule of law. Look no further than the small town of Braddock, Pa., where my opponent John Fetterman served as the mayor between 2006 and 2018. During that time, John Fetterman oversaw a dramatic surge in crime as well as a noticeable population decline in the borough. Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows violent crime, specifically, began spiking between 2013 and 2018.

In 2017, violent crime peaked in Braddock as the number of reports to local police quadrupled compared to 2006. And, in 2019, the first year after John Fetterman left office, Braddock’s crime rate dropped by 61 percent – even as a recent report indicates, Pennsylvania was beginning to experience the fastest rising crime rate – up 27 percent – of all the northeast states from 2019 to 2020.

It’s no wonder why the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police endorsed me unanimously over my opponent. John Fetterman has publicly advocated for the release of one-third of Pennsylvania’s inmate population, defunding the police, lowering bail for violent criminals, and lighter sentences for convicted murderers. As Chair of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, John Fetterman has reportedly used his position to bully others, set loose more than 8,000 inmates, and even pardon convicted first-degree murderers who are now back on our streets.

John Fetterman has also been a crusader for decriminalizing all drugs, including deadly heroin and fentanyl coming from Mexico and China. Coupled with Democrats’ open-border policies, these actions would amount to a total surrender to the dangerous cartels that traffic illicit drugs, weapons, and helpless young women across our borders.

The disastrous Biden-Fetterman agenda for open borders is fueling the epidemic of drug abuse across America by allowing deadly fentanyl to flood into our communities – with Pennsylvania paying one of the gravest prices of all. In 2021, Pennsylvania was third only to California and Florida in drug overdoses with an estimated 5,360 people having lost their lives due to drug overdose. This loss of life is a tragedy for our communities, our commonwealth, and our nation because we need the contributions of every citizen to fully thrive.

Over the past few years, the increasingly radical policies pushed by liberal leaders like Joe Biden and John Fetterman at the local, state, and federal levels have set back communities across Pennsylvania by a generation or more. Too many diverse and hard-working communities full of potential have been ruined by out-of-touch radicals who don’t know the first thing about running a business or the basic functions of government.

I hear these concerns and frustrations every day on the campaign trail from voters across the Commonwealth – like during my recent walks through downtown Conshohocken where I spoke with small business owners and community leaders. I dare John Fetterman and Joe Biden to do the same. If they did, they just might see who it is that their far-left policies are failing.

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DelVal Dems Cheer Biden Debt Bailout, GOP Calls It Unfair

Delaware Valley officials and candidates had mixed reactions to President Joe Biden’s plan to have taxpayers cover $300 billion of outstanding college debt for millions of borrowers. Under the proposal, the Biden administration would pay $10,000 to people earning $125,000 or couples earning $250,000. Borrowers who qualified for Pell Grants from households earning less than $125,000 will get $20,000.

According to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, new data show Biden’s debt forgiveness plan will cost taxpayers over $300 billion over 10 years, with the majority of relief benefitting the top 60 percent of income earners in the U.S.

And thanks to a provision in the Democrats’ American Rescue Plan last year, that income is tax-free.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) criticized the proposal as a “government handout” to the affluent.

“President Biden’s student loan bailout scheme is a government handout to Americans making up to $250,000 annually and the higher education industrial complex. Taxpayers will foot the bill for this massive expenditure, including the vast majority of Americans who already paid off their loans, paid for tuition out of pocket, or do not even have post-secondary education nor enjoy the higher lifetime earnings associated with it,” Toomey said.

“This decision will have wide-reaching, negative ramifications across America’s economy, including increasing already disastrous inflation, exacerbating America’s spending problems, and encouraging higher education institutions to raise the cost of going to college.”

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), however, is on board.

“Today, President Biden eased the burden for millions of Americans who are struggling under the weight of their student debt. This will give them the freedom to invest in their future, buy a home, or take a risk and start a business. It’s an important first step forward in helping borrowers saddled with student debt. Moving forward, we must work to lower the skyrocketing cost of college so that future students are able to get an education without signing up for a lifetime of debt.”

Casey noted that college costs have soared since 1980. “The total cost of both four-year public and four-year private college has nearly tripled, even after accounting for inflation.” But he didn’t explain how a taxpayer-funded debt holiday would bring prices down. Most analysts say the infusion of $300 billion in bailouts will likely send college costs higher for future students.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate running for Toomey’s seat tweeted, “Canceling student loans costs billions and is unfair to those who rightly paid off their debt. Instead of funding solutions like CTE or low-income education programs, Biden is caving to the radical left. Fetterman says he’s for the working class but this hurts them the most.”

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, did not respond to a request for comment. But he has previously stated his support for across-the-board college debt bailouts.

“If we can spend hundreds of BILLION$ to bail out Wall Street, we can take action to cancel student loan debt,” Fetterman tweeted.

Guy Ciarrocchi, the Republican running for Congress against Rep. Chrissy Houlahan in the 6th District, said, “Biden’s order ‘canceling’ student loan debt is probably illegal; and, it’s definitely horribly unfair. The $300 billion doesn’t go away: it simply transfers from those who freely took it on, to the rest of us. To buy votes and to appease the left-wing of his party, Biden just handed a tax bill to everyone else: those who didn’t go to college; graduated from the ‘school hard knocks’ or got through college by choosing a cheaper school and working hard to pay off their own debt.

“Biden’s appeasement and Houlahan’s 100 percent support are why I’m running to fix this mess,” said Ciarrocchi.

In a statement on Wednesday, Houlahan said she doesn’t support Biden’s approach. “Instead of blanket loan forgiveness, I would like to see lower student loan interest rates, additional Pell grants, and other mechanisms to make college more affordable.”

“I’ve already heard from countless concerned constituents about this proposal, and as our representative, I will continue to voice and act on those concerns down in Washington.”

Houlahan’s colleague Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) did not respond to a request for comment. But she did post a tweet Wednesday night declaring she’s “delighted with the president’s work. As a former professor, I saw how student loan debt was a barrier to students.”

And Dean has previously called on the Biden administration to pay off $50,000 in debts per student, a proposal with a price tag of about $1 trillion.

Her Republican opponent, Christian Nascimento, said the proposal is unfair.

“Biden can state that there is ‘plenty of deficit reduction to pay for this,’ all he wants. But the reality is that this plan shifts the burden of paying debt from the people that agreed to the loans to people that did not, and will further divide the country.

“Why are we forcing this on people that paid off their student loans or never even went to college?” Nascimento asked. “We continue to see this administration and the rubber stamp Congress add to government spending and exacerbate inflation – at the very time when the American people can least afford it.”

Republican David Galluch, a candidate for Congress in the 5th District, said, “Student debt cancellation will cost hundreds of billions of dollars. It will add up to a quarter point to inflation. It won’t address the long-term causes of the runaway cost of tuition. It won’t benefit the 87 percent of American people who have no college debt. Those who stand to gain are those who are already relatively wealthier and better off than the vast majority of Americans.

“If you’re a single mom waiting tables in Southwest Philadelphia, a union laborer at the refinery in Trainer, or anyone else who didn’t go to college struggling to get by, this policy puts you last. President Biden and Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon might not hear you. But I do. I’m fighting to put you first once again.”

The Pennsylvania Senate Republican Campaign Committee released a statement in response to President Biden’s plan.

“The Democrat Party can’t be truly serious about tackling inflation while supporting this regressive loan forgiveness plan,” PA SRCC Communications Director Michael Straw stated. “While middle- and lower-class Pennsylvanians are struggling with soaring costs, high gas prices, and a recession, Joe Biden is exacerbating the problem with these radical policies. Worse yet, Biden is saddling the cost burden of eliminating loans on the two-thirds of Pennsylvanians who didn’t go to college. Joe Biden and the Democrat Party turned their back on the working class long ago, and today’s announcement is just further evidence of that fact.”

Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity has also crunched the numbers and referred to the Wharton data.

“By any objective measure, that’s massive government spending. Americans are still facing runaway inflation that’s higher than it’s been in decades – and this kind of spending will help keep inflation high,” said Garrity.

“There are more targeted, effective ways to address student debt, such as providing relief to people working in critical jobs, such as first responders and healthcare workers, if they work in that field for some number of years. Another option would be to provide refinancing at discounted rates.

“Here in Pennsylvania, families can save for post-secondary education – including colleges and trade schools – with the PA 529 College and Career Savings Program. Over the past 18 months, we’ve taken big steps to make the program work better for everyone, including cutting fees and removing the minimum deposit to open an account. PA 529 accounts also have big tax benefits,” Garrity said.

 

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