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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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DelVal Pols Debate Impact of Latest Inflation Hike

When news broke that the Consumer Price Index hit a higher than expected year-over-year 8.3 percent rate, the stock market tanked. That was not good news for an incumbent president and his party just weeks before the midterm election.

Even worse, the cost of groceries “rose 13.5 percent over the last 12 months, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending March 1979,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “The indexes for shelter, medical care, household furnishings and operations, new vehicles, motor vehicle insurance, and education were among those that increased over the month.”

President Joe Biden amplified the Democrats’ angst by hosting a White House Rose Garden celebration of the $739 billion so-called Inflation Reduction Act the same day the report hit. The celebration featured claims of fiscal success and a song by 1970s singer James Taylor.

Meanwhile, the Penn Wharton Budget Model found the legislation’s impact on inflation would be “statistically indistinguishable from zero.”

So, how are Delaware Valley elected officials and their midterm opponents reacting to the latest inflation news?

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) noted the Biden administration’s positive talk about inflation being under control missed the mark.

“The ‘consensus’ was wrong. Today’s inflation report shows what American families knew to be true: prices are still rising,” Toomey tweeted. “Americans are paying significantly more for essentials than they were one year ago: 13.5 percent more for groceries, 6.2 percent more in rent, 23.8 percent more for energy.”

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz said, “Pennsylvanians are getting slammed by higher and higher prices everywhere they turn as the inflation rate continues to tick up. There will be no relief in sight as long as we continue electing tax and spend Democrats like Joe Biden and John Fetterman. My opponent, John Fetterman, would only make this worse by funding radical ideas like the Green New Deal while raising taxes on the middle class.”

Fetterman did not respond to a request for comment about the new inflation report.

His fellow Democrat, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia), attended the White House legislative victory party, tweeting from the scene: “The #InflationReductionAct is a major victory for America’s families and for our planet–advancing the people’s interest over the special interest. Great to mark its historic passage at the White House with my friend @RepDean!”

Scanlon’s GOP opponent David Galluch did not see it that way.

“I grew up with a single mom who sacrificed to make ends meet. The current leadership in D.C. is refusing to provide real solutions at the expense of families like the one I grew up in,” Galluch said.

“While working families continue to be squeezed by inflation, President Biden and Congresswoman Scanlon take a victory lap for passing the ‘Inflation Reduction Act,’ a bill that did not lower inflation or provide ‘immediate relief,'” he added.

Another DelVal Democrat facing a GOP challenger in Congress, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, has publicly complained about the Biden administration’s poor handling of inflation. She responded to the bad news by taking to Facebook and reminding voters she has her own plan.

“A little while back, I asked Dr. Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics, to join me for a telephone town hall to talk about the root causes of inflation and what we can expect in the coming months,” Houlahan wrote. “We discussed the global shockwave of the pandemic and its lasting impact on our global supply chains. As one of the few members in Congress with a background in supply chain management, I used that experience to create my Inflation Action Plan.”

Guy Ciarrocchi, the former CEO of the Chester County Chamber who is challenging Houlahan, was unimpressed. “Inflation is the number one issue to everyone. Well, it’s the number one issue to every not named Biden or Houlahan.

“Biden and Houlahan created this mess with wasteful spending and forcing us to import energy from our enemies.  I campaign every day to offer hope, to change this—and will work even harder in Congress to use common sense to fix their mess that is crushing our family budgets.”

Houlahan posted this message on Facebook: “Yesterday’s inflation report is a reminder that inflation doesn’t go away overnight, and it also confirms what we have been feeling at home—price relief is not where it needs to be, and that’s making things harder for Pennsylvanians.

The report showed that even though gas and energy prices continue to come down, those cost savings were offset by other sectors including medical care.

Christian Nascimento, the Republican running against Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) said, “If we needed any reminding about the challenges our economy is facing, August’s 8.3 percent CPI increase has confirmed one thing: the Democrats’ policies are not working.

“Whether it is increased taxes, increased spending, increased hiring at the IRS, or the redistribution of student debt, Joe Biden’s policies are harming the economy, and Madeleine Dean and congressional Democrats that vote 100 percent of the time with the president are enabling this damage,” Nascimento said.

A frequent criticism of the inflation legislation is that it is actually a green energy and health care spending plan, not a strategy to cool an overheated economy. Dean appeared to confirm that view.

“Grateful to be with my brother and my son as we celebrate the Inflation Reduction Act at the White House,” she posed on Facebook. “This legislation will make our largest-ever investment in climate action; lower prescription costs, including capping Medicare insulin at $35; ensure the biggest corporations pay their fair share; and reduce our nation’s deficit.

“For our families. For our planet. For our future.”

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Will Concerns About Biden’s Age Cost DelVal Dems in November?

Polls show Americans of both parties are concerned about President Joe Biden’s ability, at age 79, to handle the responsibilities of the presidency. But will those concerns translate into less support for Democratic candidates in the Delaware Valley this November?

Concerns among voters about the president’s age and health are not new. In a national POLITICO/Morning Consult poll last November, when Biden’s approval ratings were higher than they are now, only 40 percent of voters believed he was in good health, with 46 percent calling him “mentally unfit.”

“President Biden is not awake currently; that’s obvious to anyone with eyes,” said Albert Eisenberg, principal at the political strategy firm BlueStateRed. “And when I talk to Democrats, they say, ‘This guy’s not the guy.’ Obviously, Republicans and independents think that.”

Republicans will likely use that attack against Democrats is make sure voters believe the issue isn’t just Biden and his age and deficits, but rather to paint the whole Democratic party as being responsible for the situation.

“You see swing district and swing-state Democrats outperforming Biden,” Eisenberg said about the current political landscape. “(Biden’s) going to bring these candidates down, but Republicans need to close that gap.”

Jeff Jubelirer, vice president at Bellevue Communications, says he believes those who have doubts about the president’s condition likely already disapprove of the president, meaning they are already motivated to vote for Republicans.

However, Jubelirer added that anything can make a difference in tight races.

“If it’s going to be a 1 to 2 percent race… this issue could be a 1 percent difference,” he said.

In the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race, Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz is projecting the question of the ability to govern onto his opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. It comes in the wake of a stroke that felled Fetterman and has kept him off the campaign trail since just before the May 17 primary.

During a recent DVJournal podcast, National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said questions about Fetterman’s health are fair game. “I think voters have a right to know if you’re healthy or not. When people run, they should be very clear about [their] health.”

Oz is running a “basement Fetterman” campaign on social media, questioning if Fetterman has the stamina needed to represent Pennsylvania. Eisenberg said the strategy is a strong one.

“That is a really effective way to connect him to Biden,” he said. “Just putting their face next to Biden isn’t going to work.” By also creating questions about Fetterman’s ability to govern, Oz is making the strategy stronger than just questioning Biden, who, of course, isn’t his opponent.

“I think the strategy is, ‘Will he be there for you, Pennsylvania if he’s not well?’” Jubelirer said. But he added it’s important for Republican candidates to be cautious. “You don’t want to pile on his well-being.”

Eisenberg agreed. He said Oz and other Republicans can’t be perceived as “ganging up” on things Biden and other Democratic candidates cannot control.

At the same time, the silence from Delaware Valley Democrats in defending Biden and his capabilities is hard to miss. DVJournal reached out to the region’s entire Democratic congressional delegation asking if his recent COVID-19 diagnosis created any concerns about his ability to govern. All declined to respond.

In a new CNN poll, 75 percent of Democrats said they wanted someone other than Biden to be their party’s nominee in 2024. The numbers were similar in a recent NYTimes/Siena College poll. Asked why they wanted their party to make a change, about one-third of Democrats cited Biden’s age and mental acuity. It has been a repeated topic of news coverage from liberal news outlets like the Times and CNN, and many Democrats have publicly acknowledged their concerns about Biden’s age.

Meanwhile, a group of 54 House Republicans, led by former White House physician Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), sent a letter to the White House calling on Biden to take a cognitive abilities test.

The White House dismissed the letter as a stunt.

While the president’s age and sometimes embarrassing gaffes aren’t good for Democrats, Jubelirer said voters’ decisions would most likely come down to one simple sentiment.

“Most voters are like, ‘I’m pissed off. Who’s in charge?’” he said. “You’re going to get blamed.

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DelVal Democrats Jump on Gun Control Band Wagon

Democrats in the Delaware Valley congressional delegation are on board with a gun-control package being considered during a House Judiciary Committee emergency hearing this week, calling the proposals “common-sense, constitutional measures” that could prevent future tragedies.

The panel is expected to consider an omnibus package of eight bills, dubbed the “Protecting Our Kids Act,” during a mark-up session Thursday before a full House vote.

It comes in the wake of mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, where gunmen killed more than 30 people.

The bills contain proposals to raise the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, ban high capacity magazines, require a registry for bump stocks, and tighten federal firearms regulations to apply to so-called “ghost guns.”

It would establish new safe home firearms storage requirements and provide a tax credit to those who purchase the secure storage devices.

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) called the proposals “common sense” legislation that could help avert future shootings like the one in Texas that claimed 19 schoolkids and two teachers.

That massacre came after 18-year-old Payton Gendron gunned down 10 Black grocers at the Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., in a hate-fueled attack that was streamed online.

“Our duty in Congress is to protect America’s kids—not gun manufacturers’ profits,” Scanlon told Delaware Valley Journal. “I refuse to sit back and watch preventable tragedies play out day after day, year after year. It’s not just horrific mass shootings like those in Buffalo and Uvalde but also the gun violence that wreaks havoc on our communities, unchecked, every day.

“We are not hopeless. We can change this. The ‘Protecting, Our Kids Act’ includes common sense, constitutional measures to address a range of steps we can take right now to prevent gun violence. There is no single magical solution to end the epidemic of gun violence, but there’s much we can do.

“The only unacceptable response is inaction. I look forward to beginning the markup process for this package and invite all of my colleagues — on both sides of the aisle — to show the American people that they’re serious about saving lives,” she said.

The Democrat-controlled House is expected to vote on the bills next week, CBS News reported.

The package faces long odds in the evenly-divided Senate, with most Republicans likely opposed to sweeping gun control measures. And President Joe Biden has not helped, making repeated gaffes that critics say feed fears among Second Amendment advocates. For example, Biden said there is no “rational basis” to own guns that fire 9-millimeter ammunition — among the most common weapons in the country.

“The .22 caliber bullet will lodge in the lungs, and we can get it out. A 9mm bullet blows the lung out of the body. The idea of a high caliber weapon, there is simply no rational basis for it in terms of self-protection, hunting,” Biden said.

The White House was forced to walk back his statement and assure the public the president doesn’t support a ban on handgun sales.

Tim Mack, a spokesman for Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery), called the House proposals “incredibly vital.” He added the gunman in Buffalo had “no business at that age having access” to what Biden called “weapons of war.”

“We think that it’s something that’s incredibly vital given the two previous mass shootings. They bring us all a lot of sadness,” Mack said.

Aubrey Suber, a spokeswoman for Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Berks/Chester), said Houlahan supports the gun control bill.

“Sadly, there are too many elected officials who have accepted this uniquely American tragedy as inevitable,” Houlahan posted on her website. “But we can prevent this. We can prevent town names from being forever remembered by bloodshed and tragedy; first responders from walking into carnage; parents shrieking after learning their child didn’t survive. And we have the roadmap to do it.”

“It starts with passing universal background checks, a commonsense reform that over 90 percent of Americans agree on,” she said. “The refusal of Republicans in the Senate to consider this legislation is, in no uncertain terms, deadly. I stand ready, again, to work with my colleagues on action of any kind and show our students and educators we care. To the small number of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle willing to find a way forward: thank you.”

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) did not respond to requests for comment outlining his position on the proposed gun reform package.

However, Fitzpatrick released a statement following the Uvlade tragedy offering condolences to the families of the victims and calling on lawmakers to “find a solution” to the nation’s gun issue.

“You can never truly adjust to the loss of a loved one’s life that has ended too soon. My prayers are with the families of those who died, and I hope that we can work together as a country to find a solution that protects our children and citizens from the evils of unnecessary violence,” he said.

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Local Officials React to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s Speech to Congress

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky used both his talents as a video performer — along with an actual video — to make a powerful case for America to do more to help his war-torn nation fight off its Russian invaders. And while most of his remarks were delivered in Ukrainian, he used language that resonated with average Americans.

“Remember Pearl Harbor, terrible morning of Dec. 7, 1941, when your sky was black from the planes attacking you. Just remember it,” Zelensky said. “Remember September the 11th, a terrible day in 2001 when evil tried to turn your cities, independent territories, in battlefields, when innocent people were attacked, attacked from air.

“Our country experiences the same every day.”

Zelensky also mentioned Mount Rushmore, America’s sacrifices on behalf of democracy abroad, and even the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I have a need. I need to protect our sky. I need your decision, your help, which means exactly the same, the same you feel when you hear the words, ‘I have a dream.'”

Wednesday afternoon President Joe Biden signed a bill to send $800 million worth of military equipment and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, saying, “We’re going to continue to have their backs.” However, Biden did not act on Zelenskyy’s request for a no-fly zone.

Local legislators reacted with alacrity.

“This morning, President Zelenskyy delivered a powerful and sobering address not only to the U.S. Congress but also to all Americans who value peace and democracy around the world,” said Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks). “Many lines struck me, but he pierced the entire room when he said: ‘I see no sense in life, if I cannot stop the deaths,’ referring to all of the innocent children who have died. He also asked us to ‘do more.’ We must all ask ourselves how long we can delay providing the aircraft and weapon systems Ukrainians have asked for and need to defend their sovereign nation. I say we cannot delay one moment longer. In this historic moment, we must stand up for freedom and democracy around the world.”

Houlahan, however, does not support American boots on the ground or the imposition of a no-fly zone.

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-Delaware) issued the following statement after Zelenskyy spoke: “This morning, President Zelenskyy reminded us: ‘Ukraine is not fighting just for Ukraine.’ His nation’s battle is a pivotal fight for freedom and democracy, not just in Ukraine but around the world. We must remain clear-eyed about the fact that a tyrant like Vladimir Putin will continue his quest for power until he is stopped. I am incredibly grateful to President Zelenskyy for speaking candidly with me and my colleagues about the situation on the ground in Ukraine during this dark time for his country and the world.

“I stand in awe of the courage and passion displayed by President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people as they fight to defend their homeland and democracy from Putin’s unprovoked, illegal war. Their resolve in the face of Putin’s evil acts will go down in history.

“This morning, President Zelenskyy called for more humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine, as well as increased economic pressure on Russia, and I expect the United States will respond to that call. The U.S. Congress and Biden administration are united in our determination to provide every feasible measure of humanitarian and military aid possible to the Ukrainian people until Putin ceases his unlawful attack on this sovereign nation. I believe it is crucial for the U.S. to rely upon advice from our military and foreign policy experts as we determine the best course to further support Ukraine.”

Likewise, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) favors more aid for war-ravaged Ukraine.

“President Zelenskyy’s address before Congress today was incredibly powerful and moving. What the world is witnessing is a modern-day Winston Churchill laying down his life for his country and honorably leading his people through a brutal and senseless war in defense of independence, peace, and democracy. President Zelenskyy undoubtedly exemplifies everything a leader should be and has continued to inspire the entire world.

“Equally, the United States must meet this moment with strength, unity, and leadership and immediately fulfill the requests of President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people. I continue to call on the Administration to deliver additional humanitarian aid and critical lethal defensive equipment to Ukraine, specifically military aircraft and air defense systems, so the Ukrainians can defend their skies.

“This should include approving the transfer of Polish MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. The U.S. and NATO must continue to do everything in our power to firmly stand behind the people of Ukraine by supporting a humanitarian no-fly zone to give Ukrainians a fighting chance to save their innocent civilians. It is no secret that weakness invites aggression. Now is the time to send a message to murderous war criminal Vladimir Putin regarding what the United States intends to do to back our ally and friend Ukraine, rather than telling our enemy what we won’t do.”

And Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said, “President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people’s bravery and resolve has shown the world that Ukraine will do everything they can to stand up to Putin. But today, President Zelenskyy once again made clear that the Ukrainian people need our help, including by ensuring ‘the Russians do not receive a single penny’ to fund the killing of Ukrainians.

“America can lead the rest of the world in answering Zelenskyy’s call by imposing secondary sanctions on the entirety of Russia’s financial sector. These sanctions would effectively prohibit foreign banks anywhere in the world, under the threat of U.S. sanctions, from making payments to Russian banks, including for oil and gas. Stopping these funds from flowing to Putin’s war machine is a critical lifeline for the Ukrainian people.

“The American people stand with Ukraine, and we must help them as they heroically fight for their lives,” said Toomey.

Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) tweeted this: “President Zelenskyy’s address to Congress this morning was deeply moving and very clear about what Ukraine needs.

We must do all we can to support Ukrainians in the fight to protect their democracy. Slava Ukraini.”

Sen. Bob Casey also sent a tweet: “I just watched @ZelenskyyUa’s address to Congress. He spoke clearly and eloquently about Putin’s brutality and outlined the support he needs from the world. The United States stands by the Ukrainian people and we will work with our allies to support their needs.”

 

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In Bridgeport, Hundreds Rally for Ukraine

Phoenixville resident and teacher Andrij Chornodolsky had a crowd of several hundred on its feet clapping and cheering Sunday at Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Bridgeport, rallying in support of Ukraine.

“I think all of us have to bow our heads in front of the huge sacrifice and valor of the Ukrainian nation totally unanticipated, totally unbelievable, all of the military experts (said) Kyiv would fall in 48 hours.

“Kyiv stands today. Kyiv stands today and Kyiv will stand forever…If we have to rebuild every single building, every single historical relic we have preserved for 1,000 years, we rebuild. We will rebuild Ukraine ourselves if we have to…We must preserve a Christian nation, a nation of democratic values,” Chornodolsky told the crowd.

Andrij Chornodolsky with Father Ronald Poplvchak

Chornodolsky said military help is needed.

“We are demanding action now. What must be installed around Kyiv is an iron dome. Without that iron dome, Kyiv will be leveled…We must implement a Berlin-style airlift to Ukraine with a continual flow of weapons and support. Now. Not when Kyiv falls…What is happening is a war of attrition and destruction that has never been seen since World War II.”

Congresswomen Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware Co.), were among the officials who attended the event.

Dean took part in a Zoom call with Zelensky and other representatives and senators on Saturday.

“He was exactly as you have seen him in the media, determined. Dignified,” she said. She quoted him saying, “Our values are the same. We want a life with dignity. We want to see our children. We want to sit and have coffee in our homes…We cannot fight this alone…We are not fighting Russia. We are prepared to be their neighbors. Imagine saying that after these past 10 or 11 days. He called upon us for increased sanctions…He said they need air cover, ‘We need jets. We need those MIGs. Javelins, stingers, air cover.’”

“Mr. Putin expected a quick topple of Ukraine’s young democracy,” she said. “Boy, was he wrong. I’m in awe of the resilience of the Ukrainians including their president.”

She called for “overwhelming support,” including weapons, food, fuel, and refuge.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, state Rep. Austin Davis, Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, Bridgeport Mayor Beth Jacksier, Father Ronald Poplvchak, Council President Kyle Shenk and Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon.

Chornodolsky also expressed surprise and admiration for Ukraine’s president.

“We are grateful for the presence of President Volodymyr Zelensky, totally unexpected. I did not support him for president…I am totally amazed at what this man has done. We are talking about prosecuting President Putin for war crimes but what we ought to be talking about is nominating President Zelensky for the Nobel Peace Prize.  What a sacrifice we are seeing…Putin put 200,000 troops on the border of Ukraine, poor boys, poor children of Russian mothers. They didn’t even know where they were going…Poor boys going back home in plastic bags.

“We don’t wish that on anyone…But we do wish death on those who invade Ukraine.”

Scanlon thanked the Biden administration for permitting the Ukrainians who are already here special status to remain in the U.S. She supports the people of Ukraine and their “gallant president” in the face of the “unprovoked attack on that sovereign nation.”

“The free world has rallied to condemn and sanction Putin,” she said.

This week Congress will approve a package of humanitarian and military aid for Ukraine, she said.

“We are all united behind Ukraine,” she said.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is the great-grandson of two people who emigrated from Ukraine about 100 years ago. Shapiro, a Democrat running for governor, said he was inspired by the Ukrainians fighting for democracy and their president.

And as a prosecutor, he said, Putin should be prosecuted for war crimes.

“My own faith teaches no one is required to complete the task, nor are we free to refrain from it. I think about that each and every day,” said Shapiro. “It means that each of us has a responsibility to get off the sidelines to get in the game and do our part.”

Irena and Ruslana Naiva hold the Ukrainian flag.

“And so we are gathered here today in the huge numbers that we are you are putting a searing image into the minds of your two congresswomen who will be in Washington D.C. tomorrow and pass a historic appropriation…We are all standing in solidarity with Ukraine,” he said.

The Rev. Dr. Ronald Poplvchak, pastor of the church, said a Ukrainian mother and her 4-year-old daughter whose apartment building was bombed, began to walk and hitchhike 20 miles to the Polish border with “only the clothes on their backs.”

“The mother looked at the little girl. Her right hand was bleeding,” he said.

The child was tightly clutching a handful of sharp pebbles. She told her mother she did not have her doll or her bear and the stones were all she had left from her home.

He thanked the Polish people for taking in one million Ukrainian refugees so far and asked the crowd to donate, as well. The group responded, filling collection baskets with cash and checks. The rally ended with the group singing the Ukrainian national anthem while the American and Ukrainian flags flanked the dais.

Volunteers also collected about three container trucks of donations at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Abington.

“The place is towering with donations,” Dean said.

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Pennsylvanians React to President Biden’s State of the Union Speech

Pennsylvania candidates and elected officials sent the Delaware Valley Journal their reactions to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.

As might be expected, their sentiments differed by their party.

“President Biden began his speech tonight with a good message about Ukraine,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). I hope that his actions match his rhetoric and he will impose the comprehensive sanctions against Russia that I, and my Republican colleagues, have urged. The president then went on to rehash a mostly partisan, liberal wish list, including the tax-and-spend agenda that recently failed in Congress.

“Tonight was an opportunity for the president to turn a new page towards the unity he promised our country when he first took office, but unfortunately, Americans got more of the same.”

Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate David McCormick said, “Across the country and particularly in Pennsylvania, we’ve seen Joe Biden’s policies destroy our economy and increase prices for all Americans, hamstring our energy industry and return our reliance to hostile nations, flood our country with illegal immigration, drugs and human exploitation from the humanitarian crisis at the border, and catastrophically weaken America’s standing on the world stage culminating in chaos from Kabul to Kyiv and welcoming further aggression from our biggest threat – China.

“Under Joe Biden’s weak leadership, America is last. This sad reality becomes more evident by the day as Biden and the extreme left continue to gloss over the problems working American families, like in my home state of Pennsylvania, are facing while they continue to push their out-of-touch and unrealistic talking points. They are taking our nation in the wrong direction, and our world is less safe. Our country must elect leaders that will stand up to their hypocrisy and delusional agenda.

“Tonight Americans craved leadership. What they got was a reheated leftover of the same broken promises and stale rhetoric we’ve heard from the Left for decades. I’ve been fighting my whole life – from the battlefield of the Gulf War, to negotiating trade at the highest levels of government, to running two successful businesses that created hundreds of jobs. I have fought for this country and I believe in its greatness. I have what it takes to keep fighting and leading for Pennsylvania, restore the American dream for our children, and put America First once again.”

Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Republican running for the Senate, said, “Tonight, Joe Biden painted a vastly different picture of his first year in office than the disaster experienced by the vast majority of Americans. Over the past year, Joe Biden’s destructive policies have contributed to record inflation and skyrocketing gas prices for working families, a drug and human trafficking crisis openly flowing across our southern border, and draconian mandates that have harmed our children, our economy, and the future prosperity of our nation.

“On top of his failure to manage critical domestic issues, Joe Biden’s incompetence on the world stage has resulted in unmitigated disasters ranging from the horrific pullout of American troops in Afghanistan to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Make no mistake, Joe Biden is responsible for the chaos we are experiencing — Joe Biden is the reason for the beleaguered state of our Union.”

Montgomery County businessman Jeff Bartos, a Republican running for the Senate said, “The president’s address to the American people tonight shows, once again, that he never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Instead of confidently and honestly addressing the crises that are making everyday life harder for all Americans, the president simply regurgitated left-wing policies that have already failed the American people. Inflation is at a 40-year high, the southern border is overrun, crime is on the rise, Russia has declared war in Europe, China and Iran are emboldened, and gas prices are at an all-time high.  We need leadership, not platitudes, Unfortunately, the president chose not to unite the American people by declaring that we will harvest our abundant energy resources, unleash our economic might, and stop Russian aggression.”

Bartos continued, “This administration is more concerned with passing a progressive agenda than with solving the problems facing the American people. This November, it’s crucial that Republicans take back the House and the Senate to hold this administration accountable for its failures — starting with this Senate seat.”

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate said, “President Biden said it best himself tonight, we need to be making more things in America, and I couldn’t agree more. I will go to Washington and make sure that making stuff in America never goes out of style.”

Democrat Josh Shapiro, the attorney general who is running for governor, said on Twitter: I’ve heard it first hand — local police departments across PA are stretched thin because of historic staffing shortages.  Action is needed to ensure every community has the full public safety services they deserve. #SOTU

Former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, a Republican candidate for governor said, “Under President Biden, the American people have endured a crippled economy, skyrocketing inflation, record-setting violent crime, an unprecedented crisis at the border, and a mismanaged pandemic. These issues impact every aspect of American life, but they have one thing in common – they are the result of a weak, aimless President who has proven himself incapable of defending and protecting the American people at home or abroad.

“In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf’s own reckless agenda has forced hardworking families across the Commonwealth to face crushing burdens, including job losses, shuttered businesses and schools, increased taxes and cost of living, and a sinking economy.

“That ends when I’m Governor. Pennsylvanians deserve a Governor who will put their needs first, and who will stand up for the rule of law while fighting to enact pro-business, pro-energy, and pro-family policies. It’s time for a Governor who will get the government off your back and will fight any federal attempts to intrude on our Commonwealth’s liberty, sovereignty, or constitutional rights. As Governor, I will restore conservative values to our state, end statewide mandates, and create an election system in which everyone can have faith. This is the kind of leadership that Pennsylvanians deserve and that I will provide.”

Former mayor and congressman Lou Barletta, the leading Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, said, “I’ve sat in the House chamber for State of the Union speeches before, and I have never seen a president more divorced from reality as Joe Biden. Honestly, no one needs Biden to tell them what the state of Pennsylvania is, because people are living with his disastrous policies every single day.

“Inflation is at a multi-generational high, fuel prices are through the roof, violent crime is rampant in our streets, and parents have been shut out of educational decisions concerning their children. If Biden wanted to tell the truth, he should have stood up and said, ‘They were right. I’m not up to the job.’

“The failed Biden presidency proves how important it is that we elect the right governor for Pennsylvania. Instead of allowing Russia to call the shots because of our weakness on the world stage, we need to protect our own national security by producing our own energy here at home. Pennsylvania can be a leader of the world in energy production, helping to restore us to energy independence and undercutting Vladimir Putin’s influence on the world supply.

“Josh Shapiro, the likely Democratic nominee for governor, would never stand up to Biden and would never let us tap our energy potential. He would do what the leftists demand and leave Pennsylvania falling even farther behind. When I’m governor, we will unleash our God-given energy resources, restore rights to the people, and make Pennsylvania a better place to live, learn, work, and raise a family.”

Dave White, a businessman and former Delaware County councilman who is running for governor, said, “Joe Biden’s State of the Union was so detached from reality, I doubt he has any clue what his policies are doing to American families. Inflation is hitting record highs, gas prices and crime rates are soaring, and crises of Biden’s making are popping up across the globe. Joe Biden is the worst president of my lifetime, and he clearly has no idea how to solve any of the problems our country is facing.”

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware Co.) said, “I’m leaving the Capitol this evening with a renewed sense of hope and determination. President Biden spoke directly to the American people tonight — laying out an optimistic vision for our nation, grounded in reality and sound policy choices. The president made clear that America’s best days lie ahead, and that, when we are unified behind a common cause, there is no challenge too great for America to overcome.

“Right now, we are navigating a series of unprecedented challenges. We have endured the physical and economic pain of a multi-year pandemic. Family pocketbooks are stretched with rising costs on things like energy, food, and other basic goods. And Russia has unleashed a volatile international conflict in Europe. President Biden did not avoid any of these challenges, he addressed them head-on.

“Tonight, President Biden issued a rallying cry to our fellow Americans and to the world, calling on us to stand strong as a united front against autocracy — rejecting Vladimir Putin and his unprovoked war in Ukraine. As the world responds to the horrific attacks in Ukraine, I am exceedingly grateful to have an experienced statesman-like President Biden at the helm. His ability to repair relationships with our allies and organize the international community has been crucial. Like President Biden, I believe that standing up for democracy at home and abroad is essential. So, I was pleased to see the president reiterate his commitment to advancing democratic values here in the U.S., which is more important than ever.

“The President also laid out a strategic economic vision for our country. As we turn the corner with COVID-19 and begin moving back toward a sense of normalcy, Americans are anxious about the inflation we are all experiencing. I understand that concern, and so does President Biden. That’s why he focused so much of his speech tonight on his plan to fight inflation by building a better America — one that actually works for working families. His plan to lower costs for American families while continuing a historically strong economic recovery focuses on key areas that we should all be able to agree on, regardless of political affiliation. Making more goods in America, reducing the cost of everyday expenses like child care and prescription drugs, promoting fair competition to lower corporate prices, and eliminating barriers to good-paying jobs — this is a winning plan. It’s a plan that will lower costs, not wages, which is what the American people need.

“In the midst of very heavy topics that President Biden addressed during his speech, I was thrilled to hear him highlight the importance of adults stepping up to mentor young people. Too many young people in the U.S. don’t have a meaningful connection with adults outside their homes, so it was encouraging to hear the president urge adults to serve their communities — and the next generation — by becoming mentors. An active, engaged citizenry is essential to any democracy, and mentors can play a critical role in preparing young people for this responsibility.

“At the core of President Biden’s vision for our nation’s future is his belief that the character, courage, and resilience of the American people are unmatched. He truly believes that, when given a fair shot, there is nothing his fellow Americans can’t achieve. I am inspired by the president’s faith in the American people, American values, and our American system of government because I share that faith. I look forward to working with President Biden and my colleagues in Congress to make his vision a reality.”

Republican Dave Galluch, a Newtown Square resident and former Navy explosive ordinance disposal officer, who is running for Scanlon’s seat, said, “Joe Biden closed his speech by saying ‘the State of the Union is better than it was a year ago.’ Inflation is at 40-year highs. Gas prices are soaring. Children face years of delays after prolonged school closures. Crime is climbing across the country. We have lost our energy independence. Our border is in disarray. Russia has invaded Ukraine. Our foes challenge us. Americans will tell you – we are not better off today than a year ago. We need solutions.

“What we needed to hear tonight was honesty. A speech filled with ideas to bring immediate relief to our pressing problems. Instead, President Biden delivered slogans and empty rhetoric.

“It is Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats who unleashed trillions of dollars that sent the cost of living soaring. It was Democrats who championed “Defund the Police.” It was the Biden administration that presided over the highest number of annual illegal border crossings in history. It was Democratic elected officials who shut down our schools, businesses and lives much longer than was necessary.

“In the Navy I learned that as a leader you’re either part of the solution or you’re not doing your job. None of these problems are new. Most have been fumbled, mishandled, or simply created by President Biden and out-of-touch ideologues like Mary Gay Scanlon who put partisan priorities like Build Back Better above commonsense, workable policies that would’ve delivered results. In short, they chose partisan politics and didn’t deliver.

“Ordinary American families can’t escape an unfortunate reality – their lives are harder today than they were before. The buck stops with those in charge. When I’m in Congress our pressing issues – not a party’s priorities – will come first. We will listen and deliver where others haven’t. We will be a part of the solution.”

Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) said via Twitter: “The pandemic has taken its toll on everyone, like loved ones struggling with mental health and substance use disorder. Glad to hear @POTUS dedicate time in his #SOTU to both of these issues that have claimed too many lives already.

“My #SOTU virtual guest Roman Petyk: ‘President Biden deserves huge credit for rebuilding the transatlantic alliance. To have done this in one year is an amazing achievement. We must remember this.’

And “During Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of refugees need our help. Iryna Mazur, Esq., my #SOTU virtual guest, is the Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Philadelphia.”

Republican Christian Nascimento, who is running for Congress in Montgomery County said, “President Biden spoke about the world’s unity in the face of the attack on Ukraine by the criminal Putin, but failed to mention that his administration had previously withheld lethal aid. Our enemies are emboldened when our policies are weak, both abroad and at home. The rest of the speech was a recycle of a liberal wish list. Build Back Better might not have been mentioned, but Democrats continue to drive misguided government overreach.  What wasn’t covered was what the American people wanted to hear – how we get out of this spiral of soaring inflation, bring the global supply chain back to the US, and truest give parents a true voice and choice in their children’s’ education.”

Chester County Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat, said before the SOTU, ““Tonight, President Biden has an opportunity to show the American people that he understands the issues impacting our community most,” said Houlahan. “It may be his first State of the Union address, but he is no stranger to the dais. Both as Vice President and then as President during last year’s historic Joint Address to Congress, Biden knows what it takes to speak beyond applause lines and deliver a vision of unity, not only for the United States but also for the world. The question is whether or not he will rise to the occasion.”

“There are reasons to be optimistic. We hit 4 percent unemployment more than a year ahead of the Federal Reserve’s projection. Our economy gained 6.6 million jobs last year – the highest number of jobs gained in a year in U.S. history. We have gained back 87 percent of the jobs lost at the onset of the pandemic. The United States was the first country in the G-7 – the seven leading advanced economies – to recover all real GDP lost during the pandemic. And we passed a generation-defining infrastructure package, just to name a few very bright spots. So, at face value, these leading indicators and legislative accomplishments demonstrate the resiliency of our economy and the ability for our government to deliver. But they don’t tell the full story. Because at the same time, Pennsylvanians are hurting. The rising cost of goods, ongoing supply chain constraints, and rising energy prices are impacting the everyday lives of workers here in our community. Last week, I listened to mushroom farmers, daycare providers, small businesses owners, and others who are worn out and feel like no one is hearing them. I hear them, and I want President Biden to make it clear he hears them too and not only empathizes with their frustrations but also understands the commitment and necessity that we must have to do everything in our power to put partisan politics aside and help them.”

“In my short time in Congress, I have come to understand the importance of nights like tonight. At a time when our nation and our world are grappling with threats against the values and freedoms we hold so dear, we need strong moral leadership to unify Pennsylvanians, the American people, and the world. I look forward to seeing that tonight,” she said.

Guy Ciarrocchi, one of several Republicans vying to replace Houlahan, said, ““The State of the Union Address is the moment when President Biden is to assure us as Americans that he understands our problems and embraces our opportunities—and, offers us a path forward.

Sadly, his address ignores real problems—like inflation and economic insecurity—and offers no thoughtful solutions. President Biden is doubling down on the policies that brought us to where we are. If he won’t recognize reality and lead, we need a Republican Congress to force a reality-check and to step into that leadership void.”

Felice Fein, vice chair of the Chester County Republicans said, “Mr. Biden’s State of the Union Address included many of the very concepts that Mr. Trump presented in previous State of the Union speeches. Democrats seem to want us to believe these are revolutionary ideas. Does Mr. Biden really think we don’t remember that the Trump administration championed reducing the cost of insulin? Do they believe we forget that the Trump administration pushed for infrastructure funding but was blocked at nearly every turn by the Democrats?  I am glad to see that this administration and Speaker Pelosi seem so enthusiastic to do more with the opioid and mental health crises. When the Trump administration discussed these topics, it was met with a lackluster response. Good ideas should be championed whether authored by a Democrat or a Republican. On that, I think everyone would agree and should work to make it a reality!

“Finally, in response to the releasing of oil reserves to combat rising oil prices around the world, Mr. Biden wants us to believe that the rising prices are solely because of Russian aggression in Ukraine. To the contrary, oil prices were increasing well before any conflict. As soon as this administration shut down U.S. pipelines, taking away our energy independence, it caused oil prices to climb and sales of Russian oil to soar. This move effectively helped to fund Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Releasing oil from the reserves that Mr. Trump filled does nothing to aid our country or the world with its long-term need for energy.”

And Charlotte Valyo, chair of the Chester County Democrats said, “onight we saw what real leadership looks like. In just over one year, President Biden has reunited the world in the name of freedom and democracy to combat the most egregious act of tyranny that we have seen since World War II. As he has done throughout his career — and in contrast to what we see on a daily basis from Republicans — the President has spent his first year putting the country ahead of party politics. He has made progress in the battle against Covid-19, passed landmark legislation to rebuild our infrastructure. put our economy on the path to a historic recovery, and brought dignity and respect back to the Oval Office. Tonight I was proud to be a Democrat, proud to have supported President Biden, and proud to be an American.”

Liz Preate Havey, chair of the Montgomery County Republicans said, “Biden gave a meandering, uninspiring speech. He had an opportunity to give a speech to reset what the majority of voters believe is an unsuccessful presidency but he chose not to do that. This speech won’t change anything for President Biden or for Americans.”

Delaware County Democratic Chair Colleen Guiney said, “During times of tremendous hardship for the people of this nation and the people of Ukraine, President Biden Is working to bring us together to fight for fairness and progress. He urged Congress to come together to solve the problems of this nation. I am hopeful that they will follow his lead.”

 

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