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Politics

Monday, April 23, 2018

Both U.S. Reps Conor Lamb and Keith Rothfus voted to weaken a Wall Street regulation

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 1:55 PM

Conor Lamb (left) and Keith Rothfus (right)
  • Conor Lamb (left) and Keith Rothfus (right)
After U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Mount Lebanon) won a special election in March to fill a seat vacated by former Congressman Tim Murphy, it set up a battle of incumbents for the newly drawn Pennsylvania 17th U.S. Congressional District, which encompasses all of Beaver County and suburban sections of Allegheny County.

Lamb and U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) will square off in November. The candidates differ on many topics, including starkly different views on organized labor and the government’s role in providing health care.

But in one area, they appear to be on the same page. On April 13, both Lamb and Rothfus voted to alter the Volcker Rule in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. This rule was established after the financial crisis of 2008, and prohibits banks from making risky investments with customers’ money. The bill that cleared the U.S. House, the Volcker Rule Regulation Harmonization Act, would exempt banks with less than $10 billion in assets from the Volcker Rule. The bill passed by a vote of 300-104, and still needs to go through the U.S. Senate and be signed by President Donald Trump before it becomes law.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Two Southwestern Pennsylvania Republicans will see thousands in extra income thanks to tax-cut bill loophole

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 3:00 PM

Mike Kelly (left) and Keith Rothfus
  • Mike Kelly (left) and Keith Rothfus
Since the late 2000s, many congressional Republicans have been critical of the country’s rising national debt. By the early 2010s, a cavalcade of Republican candidates swept into the U.S. House on the message of “fiscal responsibility,” including local U.S. Reps like Mike Kelly (R-Butler) and Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley).

But those budget-deficit concerns appeared to be thrown out the window when representatives like Kelly and Rothfus and voted for the big tax-cut bill last year. According to a recent report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the national budget deficit will be $1.85 trillion higher over the next 10 years than previously projected thanks to the tax-cut bill.

And on top of that, analysis of the tax cuts show that benefits will disproportionately go to the country's wealthiest citizens, and won’t lead to much improvement for low- to middle-income earners. But that doesn’t mean the Congressional Republicans who backed the tax bill will see many negative effects in their personal finances. In fact, a new study shows that U.S. Reps like Kelly and Rothfus will personally reap thousands of dollars in benefits every year thanks to the tax cuts.

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Pittsburgh City Paper hosting candidates forum/game night at Spirit in Lawrenceville on Thu., April 12

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 2:35 PM

forum4.jpg
Following politics these days is a whirlwind. With the chaos of the Trump administration, it's hard to stay focused on local political races that will more directly affect constituents. Heck, even controversy surrounding local politicians like former U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy can distract constituents from other state or municipal political stories.

But City Paper wants to help. On April 12, CP is teaming up with Women for the Future of Pittsburgh (WTF PGH) to host a political forum and game night with political candidates for Pennsylvania General Assembly seats and U.S. congressional seats before the May 15 Primary Election. The event will run from 6-9 p.m. at Spirit in Lawrenceville, and will include plenty of time for candidates to stump their platforms and meet voters. But the event will also include games for the candidates to play as a way to entertain and inform constituents. There will also be a cash bar available.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

People who live outside of Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District are trying to vote in special election

Posted By on Tue, Mar 13, 2018 at 1:49 PM

A sign for Rick Saccone at a home in Sewickely, which is outside of PA-18 - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • A sign for Rick Saccone at a home in Sewickely, which is outside of PA-18
The special election happening today on March 13 has garnered so much attention and excitement that people from across the region are champing at the bit to cast votes for Conor Lamb (D-Mount Lebanon) or Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth).

Problem is, only people that live and are registered in Pennsylvania’s 18th U.S. Congressional District can actually vote in the special election. But that isn’t stopping people from heading to their polling places anyway.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Stumping for congressional candidate Conor Lamb, former Vice President Joe Biden discusses future for young people

Posted By on Wed, Mar 7, 2018 at 4:28 PM

Conor Lamb (left) with Joe Biden at March 6 event at Robert Morris University - PHOTO COURTESY OF SEBASTIAN FOLTZ
  • Photo courtesy of Sebastian Foltz
  • Conor Lamb (left) with Joe Biden at March 6 event at Robert Morris University
On March 6, former Vice President Joe Biden visited the Robert Morris University campus in Moon to stump for U.S. Congressional candidate Conor Lamb (D-Mount Lebanon). Lamb is facing Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth) in a special election on March 13 for an open seat in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District.

Biden spoke inside RMU’s Yorktown Hall to a crowd of more than 400 people about Lamb’s dedication to supporting middle-class Pennsylvanians and to lifting up labor unions. But Biden also focused on issues pertaining to creating a better future for the country. He said that he has never felt more optimistic about America than right now, and said that it's young candidates like Lamb who give him hope.

“Character matters. The man I am campaigning for, he reminds me of my son, Beau Biden,” said Biden referencing his late son, an U.S. Army veteran who died of cancer in 2015. “He has character.”

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Monday, March 5, 2018

Beware of a fake poll circulating about the special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District

Posted By on Mon, Mar 5, 2018 at 3:24 PM

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Polls in recent weeks taken of potential voters for the March 13 special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District have shown candidates Conor Lamb (D-Mount Lebanon) and Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth) in a close race. Since the second week in February, no poll has given either candidate a significant lead. Two polls from February gave Saccone leads of three points and six points, respectively, but the most recent Emerson poll, released March 5, gave Lamb a three-point lead.

But political observers should remain wary, as a fake poll of the 18th District race is circulating. A Virginia-based group called the Blumenthal Research Daily released a survey on March 2 at 1:45 p.m. which showed Lamb with a one-point lead over Saccone. The survey was announced via Twitter and has since been retweeted 34 times and liked 46 times, even though the BRD Twitter account only has 36 followers.

Three hours after the survey was released, Timothy Blumenthal, of BRD, posted a statement about the survey announcing that it is fake. “Hello everyone. I guess I’ll just start off with the obvious. Yes, Blumenthal Research Daily is a fake pollster,” wrote Blumenthal on March 2. “The numbers used were random, and I did little to no research before piecing together a rather sloppy google doc.”

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Pennsylvania Democrats criticize the new tax cuts for overwhelmingly benefiting the wealthy

Posted By on Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 3:57 PM

Bob Casey at an event in Pittsburgh - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Bob Casey at an event in Pittsburgh
Political ads for the upcoming March 13 special election between former U.S. assistant Attorney Conor Lamb (D-Mount Lebanon) and state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth) have taken up the new tax cuts as a central issue. The National Republican Congressional Committee has put out attack ads stating that Lamb is aligned with U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who called the tax cuts “crumbs” for middle-class families. (Lamb has said the tax cuts are a “betrayal” to the middle class, but stated in January that he doesn’t support Pelosi.)

Since the bill's passage in December, headlines about the tax cuts have focused on some large corporations that have doled out $1,000 bonuses to workers and others that have slightly increased workers' wages. Also, according to nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, households making $60,000 a year will have their after-tax income inch up about 1.5 percent after 2018, but those will tax savings will tick down by 2025 and be eliminated in 2027.

And some Pennsylvania Democrats are starting to point out who they believe are the real winners of the tax-cut bill: the wealthy.

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Anti-gerrymandering group holding Mount Lebanon meeting tonight in run-up to Pennsylvania redistricting decision

Posted By on Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 3:49 PM

IMAGE COURTESY FACEBOOK
  • Image courtesy Facebook
When the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its new drawings of Pennsylvania's U.S. Congressional Districts on Feb. 19, state Republicans immediately criticized them and said they would challenge the maps in federal court. The state’s 18 congressional districts were redrawn earlier this month after the state Supreme Court ruled the original 2011 maps violated the Pennsylvania Constitution as a partisan gerrymander.

Federal judges have scheduled a March 9 hearing to listen to arguments concerning the new congressional district maps.

While the outcome of the federal district court's decision will undoubtedly have a big effect on how Pennsylvanians vote in upcoming elections, a grassroots group wants to remind people that having legislators draw maps and then battle in the courts is not the only way to reshape districts in Pennsylvania.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Pittsburgh City Council candidate Erika Strassburger endorsed by statewide environmental group PennEnvironment

Posted By on Tue, Feb 20, 2018 at 10:19 AM

Erika Strassburger - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATE
  • Photo courtesy of the candidate
  • Erika Strassburger
Before Erika Strassburger worked as chief of staff for former Pittsburgh City Councilor Dan Gilman (D-Squirrel Hill), she worked as an environmental advocate in Pittsburgh and in New Hampshire. She told City Paper back in January that her environmental chops would be valuable on city council, especially considering the ongoing problems at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA). Strassburger is running to replace Gilman’s former 8th City Council District seat in a special election that will take place March 6.

“I spent a decade fighting for clean water, and right now the PWSA has $4 billion in capital needs and a federal mandate to lower lead levels,” said Strassburger in January. “We have to keep water publicly owned, but make sure important changes are implemented. Green infrastructure needs to be a priority first, and I believe there are ways to raise money for that.”

And now one of the state’s biggest environmental-advocacy organizations, PennEnvironoment, has thrown its weight behind Strassburger.

“When it comes to protecting our environment, there’s no one better than Erika,” said PennEnvironment director David Masur in a press release. “For nearly a decade, Erika put her money where her mouth is when it comes to protecting our environment and health — now, and for our kids and future generations.”

Masur notes in the press release Strassburger’s focus on improving Pittsburgh water quality was a key factor in PennEnvironment providing its endorsement. According to samples taken in December 2017, more than 100 sites in Pittsburgh had lead levels in drinking water above the federal standards. The PWSA is looking to replace 2,100 lead service lines this year.

PennEnvironment deputy director Adam Garber said in a press release that he believes Strassburger will fight for clean water, as well as other environmental causes in the city.

“Erika has walked the walk in so many ways, and her priorities are clear. We know she will be an excellent ally and advocate for Pittsburghers who want clean air, clean water, and great open spaces when she is elected to City Council,” said Garber in a press release.

Strassburger, previously registered as a Democrat, is running as an independent against Democrat Sonja Finn, Republican Rennick Remley and Marty Healey, of the newly created Inclusion Party.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Pittsburgh Dreamers urge Sen. Bob Casey to fight for a clean Dream Act

Posted By on Wed, Feb 14, 2018 at 5:02 PM

Liz Fishback (left), of Sen. Bob Casey's office, with Dreamers Lesly Moran (center-left), Hortencia Ortiz (center-right) and Ana Alberto (right) - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Liz Fishback (left), of Sen. Bob Casey's office, with Dreamers Lesly Moran (center-left), Hortencia Ortiz (center-right) and Ana Alberto (right)
The immigration debate in the U.S. Senate has begun, and it already looks like a standalone bill to grant recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) a path to citizenship is off the table. DACA recipients, also called Dreamers, are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, and have since been given temporary-protected status and are allowed to legally work in the country.

This week, starting on Mon., Feb 12, the U.S. Senate opened up the floor to allow debate on a number of immigration issues. By and large, Democrats are looking to provide protections and a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and Republicans are looking to bolster border security and reduce the number of immigrants entering the U.S. through family reunification (in which immigrants can sponsor family members to join them in the U.S.).

But instead of starting with that debate, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Lehigh) proposed an amendment to defund so-called “sanctuary cities,” municipalities that limit communication and cooperation with U.S. immigration officers. The Atlantic Monthly reported on Feb. 13 that Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) struck down Toomey’s amendment and complained it “does absolutely nothing to address DACA, does absolutely nothing to address border security.”

(It also should be noted that in 2016 when asked if he supported a path to citizenship in concert with ending sanctuary cities, Toomey told City Paper that those were “separate” issues.)

Although the Senate’s immigration debate is off to a rocky start, Pittsburgh-area Dreamers are still hopeful their needs will be met. On Feb. 14, three local Dreamers delivered letters to the Pittsburgh office of Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey (D-Scranton). Ana Alberto, Lesly Moran and Hortencia Ortiz are DACA recipients and are asking Casey to protect DACA and to pass a clean Dream Act, meaning a path to citizenship for Dreamers without any attachments like increased border security.

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