NEWS AND OPINION:
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise is not going to let lawmakers and the White House forget that pocketbook issues are a serious, relentless issue across the nation.
“Millions of hard-working Americans are feeling pain each time they buy food at the grocery store or fill their car up with gas. Food has increased by 10.1%. Electricity has increased by 11.9%. Utility natural gas has increased by 26.7%. President Biden recently claimed, ‘Inflation is coming down. Take-home pay for workers has gone up.’ That was a lie,” Mr. Scalise said in a brief written report with a catchy title.
He calls it “The Leader’s Floor Lookout,” and it’s heavy on numbers.
“In January 2021, when President Biden first entered the White House, the inflation rate was 1.4%. In January 2023, the annual inflation rate hit 6.4%. Under President Biden, real average hourly earnings have fallen by about 4%. Over the past 12 months, real average hourly earnings have decreased by 1.8%. Because of President Biden’s and the Democrats’ inflationary policies, Americans have lost roughly $10,000 in savings,” advised the report, which was released Wednesday.
“It’s time to take real action, audit the Biden administration’s wasteful spending, and reverse Democrats’ self-made inflation crisis,” it summarized.
Mr. Scalise also cited legislation introduced by Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the House Republican Conference chair. That would be HR 347 — the Reduce Exacerbated Inflation Negatively Impacting the Nation Act — otherwise known as the “REIN IN Act,” which passed the House on Wednesday.
The commonsense bill requires the Office of Management and Budget and the Council of Economic Advisers to provide an inflation estimate for each executive order that is projected to cause an annual gross budgetary effect of at least $1 billion.
THAT BIG SPEECH
So what size audience did President Biden attract to his State of the Union speech on Feb. 7?
The numbers tell all: 27.3 million people tuned in, according to Nielsen in a final report on the event that was released Wednesday. That’s down from the 38.2 million who tuned in to hear Mr. Biden in 2022 — but more than the 26.9 million who watched in 2021.
“Viewing of the 2023 State of the Union address was down 29% compared to Biden’s 2022 address,” Nielsen said.
It is of note that former President Donald Trump drew an ample audience when his turn at the lectern came. When Mr. Trump first addressed the nation as commander in chief in 2017, he pulled in 47.7 million viewers, followed by 45.5 million in 2018, 46.7 million in 2019 and finally, 37.1 million in 2020.
For those who wonder, former President Bill Clinton holds the audience record for the event, drawing 53.1 million viewers for his 1998 address.
“The questions surrounding President Clinton helped build the most public interest in his State of Union Message this year since Mr. Clinton’s first address in 1993,” The New York Times noted on Jan. 28 that year — the “questions” referring to the then-president’s interest in White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
OIL’S NOT WELL
Inflation could seriously affect those with a penchant for pasta, delectable dressings and tasty fried food.
“Experts are warning that olive oil could join the list of kitchen staples seeing a price hike this year. Droughts and intense heat ravaged olive-producing regions across Europe in 2022, causing a poor harvest season that will likely see supplies dwindle,” Food & Wine magazine reported.
“Major olive oil-producing and exporting countries like Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal are projecting lower bounties. Italy alone, the world’s second-largest olive oil producer, is expected to produce 37% less oil from the 2022/23 season compared to last year, according to the Institute of Services for the Agricultural and Food Market,” the magazine said.
The makers of Filippo Berio olive oil — founded in Italy in 1867 and now exported to 75 countries — have weighed in.
“Filippo Berio estimates that the global harvest will deliver only about 2.6/2.7 million metric tons of product — 400,000 metric tons less than a typical good harvest. We are projecting 20% less final product, which will result in 30%-50% price increases, depending on the type of oil,” Dusan Kaljevic, CEO of Filippo Berio U.S., told the publication.
WHO’S STILL ON GUARD?
Governors in all 50 states declared an emergency when COVID-19 arrived in 2020. And now — three years later — 45 of those states have ended emergency status.
“Five states have active emergencies: Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Texas. With the exception of Texas, the remaining states with emergencies related to the COVID-19 pandemic are Democratic trifectas, meaning Democrats control the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature,” notes an analysis from Ballotpedia.com, an online political resource.
“New Mexico’s emergency will end on March 3, while Rhode Island’s is scheduled to end March 11. In Connecticut and Illinois, the emergencies are scheduled to end on May 11,” the analysis said.
“Texas has a Republican trifecta. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has not said when he will end the emergency. On Jan. 26, Abbott said: ‘I’m going to keep that in place until the legislators codify my executive orders that ban mask mandates, that ban forced vaccines and things like that,’” it noted.
There were some quirks, though.
“Some governors ended their original emergency orders and later reinstated them, including those in Alabama, Delaware, Kansas, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia. In Michigan and Wisconsin, the state supreme court ended statewide COVID-19 emergencies,” the analysis concluded.
POLL DU JOUR
• 42% of U.S. voters say economic conditions in the U.S. are “poor”; 62% of Republicans, 47% of independents and 21% of Democrats agree. 46% of women and 38% of men also agree.
• 36% of voters overall say economic conditions are “only fair”; 29% of Republicans, 39% of independents and 41% of Democrats agree. 35% of women and 36% of men also agree.
• 18% of voters overall say the conditions are “good”; 7% of Republicans, 13% of independents and 31% of Democrats agree. 15% of women and 22% of men also agree.
• 4% of voters overall say the conditions are “excellent”; 2% of Republicans, 1% of independents and 7% of Democrats agree. 3% of women and 4% of men also agree.
SOURCE: A Fox News poll of 1,006 registered U.S. voters conducted Feb. 19-22.
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