It was yet another dizzying week in the nation’s capital, but before we jump into that quagmire we point you to the newest jobs report released this morning showing the economy added 209,000 jobs in July. The report comes a day after the Dow once again surpassed its historic high-water mark. We are starting to think the economy is just totally ignoring Washington dysfunction, which is good for all of us.
Congress left town this week (some might say not a moment too soon) for its summer break after passing a litany of bills designed to Make America Great Again. Here is our Top Five list of Congressional accomplishments:
- Confirmed Neal Gorsuch to a spot on the Supreme Court
- Left town for the summer
Side note on the previous paragraph: if we worked that hard at Triad, we would not be working at Triad.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly empaneled a grand jury to investigate Russian influence in the 2016 elections, among other things. This type of “empaneling” is decidedly not what your dad did to your bedroom back in the 70s, or what Ford did to the car doors on your station wagon.
This week also saw two more firings in the Trump front office, as White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus was shown the door in favor of General John Kelly. Minutes later, Kelly fired the mouth that roared, Anthony Scaramucci, leaving Saturday Night Live with a large hole to fill yet again.
Back in Pennsylvania, we are now into week five without a revenue plan to support the 2017/2018 Fiscal Year budget, and State Treasurer Joe Torsella yesterday was forced to extend the Commonwealth a $750 million line of credit to pay the bills through the end of the month. Soon we will be making Congress look like a well-oiled machine.
Lawmakers are indeed working to come to an agreement on a revenue package, with Members of the House of Representatives gearing up for a fight over the Senate shale tax. The controversial measure has now been baked into the discussion, and as both advocates and opponents both know, once something makes it into a tax bill, it is very tough to take it back out.
For his part, Governor Wolf seems content to let the House and Senate fight over the details of the plan he laid out in February. There is an old saying our father taught us that is applicable here: do not walk across the street to let someone punch you in the nose.
One piece of the revenue puzzle that is on the table is closing sales tax loopholes on items bought online, which is estimated to generate $40 million annually for the Commonwealth’s piggy bank. Online retailers loathe this idea, while brick-and-mortar stores are all in. The thorny question has always been how to collect sales tax, which other states have tried and promptly been sued over.
Pennsylvania educators will now be free to focus less on standardized testing and more on the holistic progress of students, we learned this week. Standardized tests have long been a bone of contention between educators, parents and administrators so this would seem to be welcomed news for all.
If you thought the only worthwhile stories about health care came out of the U.S. Senate, maybe you should check out this piece about the innovative partnership between Independence Blue Cross (Shameless Client Plug!) and Jefferson Health. Life, and the delivery of health care, indeed goes on outside of the D.C. bubble.
We pause this weekly update to inform you that the Gulf of Mexico now has a dead zone the size of New Jersey. While it is not rare to hear the phrase “dead zone” in the same sentence as “New Jersey” this should be cause for alarm. Good luck sleeping tonight.
We resume our update with this piece about potential PUC oversight of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. There are very tough (and costly) decisions that will need to be made about system upgrades and we assure you, the PUC will not be afraid to force the PWSA to make them. The cure for this problem might be about as tasty as three-day-old gas station sushi.
As major investments are made to spruce up and increase the capacity at PhilaPort, we are once again reminded that infrastructure upgrades are all kind of related. For instance, it would be great for Philly to have one of the premier ports in the world, but it is also kind of necessary to have roads that can get those goods from the ships to your waiting hands. Been on the Schuylkill lately?
In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to San Diego, where those blessed souls at the University of California-S.D. have concluded what we knew all along. According to their newest study, moderate-to-heavy drinkers have a much better chance of living to 85 years of age with no cognitive impairments or dementia. Happy Friday!
That’s what passes for news around here as we slide into the weekend. Be sure to check back in next week when we will have a whole lot more to say about essentially nothing! From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!
The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh