This just in: it is not raining in central Pennsylvania as of this writing. The mid-state made national news this week as torrential rains turned Hershey and Hummelstown into one, giant pond and pushed the Susquehanna River over its banks. Enough rain fell to fill 3.3 million Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to the Bureau of Arcane and Mostly Useless Weather Facts.
President Donald Trump this morning strode into the Rose Garden and informed the nation that the GDP rose by more than 4 percent in the previous quarter, with all economic signs trending up. Memo to the president: to stave off any mid-term GOP electoral trouble, you may wanna talk about only the economy until November. We are not kidding. Literally, don’t say a word about anything else.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, members of the so-called “Freedom Caucus” have filed articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for… something. Their efforts lasted all of 24 hours before House Speaker Paul Ryan tossed a bucket of cold water on them, saying, “Yeah, we aren’t gonna do that.”
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey was awfully busy this week, first announcing that he will be an emphatic “yes” on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. This will undoubtedly cause Kavanaugh’s opponents to inundate his office with calls asking him to vote no, which is never going to happen.
Toomey also took some time out of his schedule to blast President Trump’s farm tariff solution, which is apparently to just hand $12 billion in subsidies to farmers hurt by his own tariffs, or as Toomey calls it, “putting a band-aid on a self-inflicted wound.” It seems that nothing causes Toomey to part ways with Trump faster than trade policy.
For his part, Trump will travel to Pennsylvania next week to do some rallying and campaigning for Congressman Lou Barletta, who can’t seem to gain any traction in his bid to unseat Sen. Bob Casey Jr. The clock is not Barletta’s friend at this point, so he could likely use some Trumping.
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro this week penned a letter to Pope Francis, asking him to intervene in the ongoing grand jury report dispute between Shapiro, the courts, and the Catholic Church. Nothing like going straight to the top of the food chain. Shapiro does not take “no” for an answer very well.
The other AG, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, seems to have carved out quite the policy niche as the highest-ranking PA public official in favor of the legalization of recreational marijuana. DePasquale often touts the $500 million in annual tax revenue that legal weed could produce, but this week he sweetened the pot (see what we did there?) by showing how many tourism dollars we are losing to states that have already legalized it. Pennsylvania: see the Liberty Bell, smoke a bowl.
A Pennsylvania casino company is having a devil of a time convincing central Pennsylvania residents that building a small casino in their community won’t turn it into a set from the Sopranos. The same arguments that anti-casino forces made in 2004 (Pennsylvania = Gomorrah) get trotted out each time somebody wants to open one, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. They are not meth labs, folks. Just casinos.
Retiring Congressman Bill Shuster shared some thoughts this week on how to fund the nation’s sorely needed infrastructure repair, the cornerstone of which would be to nearly double the federal gasoline tax, then repeal it eight years later and move to a per-mile fee. No word on how this plan might go over with his current GOP colleagues, as most of them fainted upon hearing the details.
Gov. Tom Wolf and his challenger, Scott Wagner, continued their “he said, he said” over public school funding. Wagner maintains that Wolf secretly wants to slash funding for schools, while Wolf said Wagner already supported funding cuts in the past. Regardless, this race continues to be about a 9 on the 1-10 boredom scale. Somebody release a negative ad or something.
Residents of your Capital City came out in droves this week to share their – ahem – unhappiness with a state oversight team’s plan to bring Harrisburg out of Act 47 protection. At the core of that plan is a three-year, 80 percent increase in property taxes for city residents. One resident compared that plan to 1972’s Hurricane Agnes, which pretty much wiped the city out. Seriously, on what planet does anyone believe the way to rescue a city is to slap an 80 percent tax hike on it?
In our Shameless Client Plug this week, our good pals at Pocono Raceway have teamed up with the Pennsylvania Turnpike to host a trucking industry job fair at the raceway tomorrow. Check out the details here if you’ve ever wanted to be a gear jammer!
In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to the North Atlantic, where a 7-foot mako shark by the name of Yinzer roams the waters. If you happen to run into Yinzer, don’t be too concerned about him devouring you. He only eats Primanti sandwiches and pierogies.
That’s what passes for news around here from soggy Harrisburg! Come back next week where we will once again regale you with tales of yore. Or something. From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!