The U.S. economy shifted gears into overdrive last month by adding more than 300,000 new jobs, we learned this morning. Expect this to be a major talking point when President Trump decamps to western Pennsylvania next week to rescue a certain special election. Much more on that later.
Trump last week shocked many people in his own front office by announcing new tariffs on steel and aluminum, which puzzles us to no end, as attacking unfair trade was a central part of Trump’s campaign. U.S. Steel Corporation cheered the decision and announced it would bring back 500 furloughed workers. It never ceases to amaze us how shocked people are when Trump does exactly what he said he would do.
So appalled was Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, that he hung up his spurs almost immediately. Cohn obviously was living in a cave during the 2016 campaign or he would have never accepted the job in the first place. There is an old saying: when people tell you who they are, believe them the first time.
Showing you once again how American politics has crossed the Rubicon, our own GOP U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey blasted the president’s tariff plan, while his Democratic counterpart, Bob Casey, lauded the POTUS’ decision.
Also making international waves this week were those whacky kids from North Korea, who announced they would abandon their nuclear weapons program for the right deal. Yeah, sure you will. After decades of maniacally striving to build a nuclear warhead to hit the United States and starving your entire country in the process, y’all are just gonna quit cold turkey? We’ve heard this song before… the lyrics suck and you can’t dance to it.
But then late yesterday, Kim Jong Un raised the stakes in this particular poker game by publicly inviting President Trump to a face-to-face meeting. We can almost envision the warm greetings being exchanged between Rocket Man and the Dotard (their words, not ours), which oddly enough is also the name of our new punk band.
Tuesday was the deadline to file nominating petitions to run for state office this year, and as such, here is the running tally of the 26 state House members and four state senators who are either retiring or running for higher office. There is a lot of institutional knowledge heading for the exits this year. Bust out the training wheels for 2019.
Given the fact that a full third of Pennsylvania’s population is running for Congress this year, we will spare you the details on that ongoing, gerrymandered, lawsuit-inducing dumpster fire and let you know there are three people vying to take a shot at the aforementioned Bob Casey, Jr.: Congressman Lou Barletta, State Rep. Jim Christiana and Joe Vodvarka, who has run for office more times than we can count. Joe-mentum, baby!!
The Real Joe, former Vice President Joe Biden, popped into the Carpenters training facility in western PA (shameless client plug!) this week to back his new pal Connor Lamb in his quest to wrestle the 18th congressional district away from the GOP. That district will then turn into the 14th district and neither Lamb nor his opponent Rick Saccone will actually reside inside its borders, which means one of the candidates could serve in Congress for nine months before being elected in another district. Like we said: dumpster fire.
And leave it to good old Ted Cruz to give us the head-shaking moment of the week, as his campaign attacked his newly-minted opponent Beto O’Rourke for not going by his birth name, Robert. It took CNN’s Chris Cuomo eight seconds to remind Ted that his real name is Rafael Edward Cruz. We guess calling him “Lyin’ Rafael” wouldn’t have had the same effect for Donald Trump on the campaign trial.
Sometime in 2018, we will all (once again) see a legislative effort to abolish school property taxes here in the Commonwealth, we learned this week. As historians will recall, the first such bill to abolish property taxes was introduced in the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.
During this week’s state budget hearings, we learned that revenue from expanded gaming is on track to meet or exceed projections, largely because casinos are bidding ludicrous amounts of money to win the new mini-casino licenses. Imagine what will happen if the state finally gets around to launching online gaming, which actually produces annual revenue. As an aside, does anyone else think of little, tiny slot machines when people talk about “mini-casinos?” Just us? OK.
Philly’s controversial soda tax came in at $15 million under estimate this week, earning derision from the east and an outright warning from the west. It should be fun times in the General Assembly if lawmakers begin kicking the tires on this one.
Meanwhile, Philly City Council began deliberations on Mayor Jim Kenney’s budget, the centerpiece of which is a 6 percent property tax hike to fund the city’s chronically underfunded schools. For the folks who vociferously advocated for the state to return control of the school district to the city, this is what we like to call “the fun part.”
The state has stepped in and shut down Sunoco’s Mariner 1 pipeline this week after sinkholes were found on the pipeline route outside of Philadelphia. Pipelines and sinkholes do not tend to get along too well.
The Harrisburg area bar and restaurant scene got a shiny new addition this week, as a new establishment opened that features axe-throwing among its many amenities. In a town where the politics can get downright nasty, we are not really sure about mixing in alcohol and flying axes.
The Amazon Alexa has apparently become a sentient being, as it is now bursting into creepy laughter, totally unprovoked. Amazon tried to explain it all away as some technical glitch, but we know what the hell is going on here, Amazon. Don’t play the fool. You’ve designed a thinking robot that is here to take over the world.
Congratulations to our client Knox Medical, who this week cleared the final regulatory hurdle to begin selling medical marijuana in York County. Great work by the Knox team!
In other Shameless Client Plug news, congratulations to former Lyft honcho Katie Kincaid, who now heads off to tech company Eaze, which announced a $27 million capital raise as it wades into home delivery of marijuana in California. And to think it took us decades to get home wine delivery legalized in Pennsylvania.
In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we prepare you for the Kim Jong Un/Donald Trump summit by sharing this ridiculous picture of the North Korean dictator standing in front of a few million potatoes. Spoiler alert: he ate them all. Dear Leader likes his mashed potatoes.
That’s what passes for news around here as Harrisburg recovers from the zero inches of snow that Winter Storm Quinn dumped on the city. We will be back next week if we can dig ourselves out. 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