Congressman O’Halleran Doesn’t Confirm Support for a Biden 2024 Run

Congressman O’Halleran Doesn’t Confirm Support for a Biden 2024 Run

By Corinne Murdock |

Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01) didn’t respond to questions about his support for President Joe Biden’s plans to run for re-election in 2024. 

On Friday, Fox News asked O’Halleran and five other Democratic congressmen about their support for a Biden 2024 run. O’Halleran and four others didn’t respond. The network posed their question several weeks after O’Halleran failed to respond to a similar question from the Daily Caller.

According to data from FiveThirtyEight, O’Halleran has a perfect voting record on issues supported by the president, though he’s insinuated otherwise.

O’Halleran was also behind the controversial proposal to suspend the federal gas tax, along with Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ). Democratic leaders received the initiative coolly, according to interviews presented in Politico. The legislators spurned the idea as one that would bleed revenue without justifiable savings for consumers. 

On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris told CNN anchor Dana Bash that she and Biden would seek re-election in 2024. Harris issued those remarks less than an hour after the New York Times reported on Democratic Party leaders’ dissent over Biden’s desire to run again.

“Joe Biden is running for re-election and I will be his ticket mate,” stated Harris. “Full stop. That’s it.”

Biden’s promise to run is something that certain individuals within Biden-Harris immediate circle have echoed repeatedly, despite pushback from fellow Democratic leaders. Lack of unified support has Biden “irked,” according to insiders that spoke with multiple mainstream outlets close with the Biden administration: including the Washington PostNew York Times, CNN, The Atlantic, and Politico.

Although O’Halleran’s voting record supports Biden’s policies wholeheartedly, his reluctance to back a second round of a Biden-Harris administration may have to do with public sentiment in addition to party dissent. Biden’s approval ratings have consistently dropped: the majority of voters have disapproved of the president since last October.

FiveThirtyEight estimated that close to 56 percent of voters disapprove of Biden at present, while nearly 40 percent approve. 

Reuters offered worse numbers: they estimated that 58 percent of voters disapprove of Biden, while only 36 percent approve.

By comparison, former President Donald Trump’s approval ratings fluctuated, hitting lows of 35 at the end of 2018 and at the very end of his term in 2021, but maintaining averages at or above 40 and up to 49 throughout his four years. 

O’Halleran is also potentially facing a tougher voter base, thanks to redistricting. Certain studies asserted that the congressman’s new district leans Republican — if active in 2020, the Phoenix-based survey research group Data Orbital projected that Trump would have won the district by over 8 points. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

House Republicans Issue Proclamation Denouncing State of Biden’s Border Crisis

House Republicans Issue Proclamation Denouncing State of Biden’s Border Crisis

By Corinne Murdock |

On Wednesday, the entire Republican caucus of the House submitted a legislative proclamation on the floor denouncing the current state of the border under President Joe Biden. 

State Representative Gail Griffin (R-Hereford) sponsored the legislation. All 31 Republicans signed onto it. 

The GOP proclamation cited the fact that 1.7 million illegal immigrants accounted for a nearly 380 percent increase in border crossings compared to the previous fiscal year. It also noted the spike in drug trafficking: 10,000 pounds of fentanyl, 180,000 pounds of methamphetamine, 86,000 pounds of cocaine, 5,000 pounds of heroin, and 311,000 pounds of marijuana. That’s in conjunction with thousands of violent crimes committed. 

The proclamation also touched on a newer trend: cartels recruiting teenagers via social media to be human smugglers for about $1,500 to $2,000 per illegal immigrant, nicknaming the vehicles “load cars” and the teens “load-car drivers.” 

The proclamation is reproduced below, in full:

Whereas, the United States-Mexico border consists of 1,954 miles of varied terrain, including deserts, rugged mountainous areas, forests and coastal areas; and

Whereas, officially established in 1924 by an act of Congress in response to increasing illegal immigration, the United States Border Patrol has primary responsibility for securing the border between ports of entry; and Whereas, Border Patrol agents patrol international land borders and waterways to detect and prevent the illegal trafficking of people, narcotics and contraband into the United States; and

Whereas, on March 7, 2022, the Western States Sheriffs’ Association unanimously passed Resolution 22-1, which outlines the alarming issues facing our nation due to the unchecked illegal immigration crises at our southern border; and

Whereas, the southern border of the United States is currently experiencing an unprecedented number of people attempting to enter the country illegally, with the past fiscal year seeing a 379% increase of border encounters as compared to the previous fiscal year. These 1.7 million individuals represent 164 countries, including countries with suspected terrorist ties, and 63% of them are from countries other than Mexico; and

Whereas, there has likewise been a major increase in apprehensions, expulsions and “getaways” on the southwest border, with one million encounters and 300,000 getaways between October 1, 2021, and April 11, 2022; and

Whereas, in the past fiscal year, the number of illegal drugs seized has skyrocketed, including 10,000 pounds of fentanyl, 180,000 pounds of methamphetamine, 86,000 pounds of cocaine, 5,000 pounds of heroin and 311,000 pounds of marijuana. Likewise, criminal activity has soared, with law enforcement documenting 60 homicides, 1,178 assaults, 2,138 drug-related or drug trafficking arrests, 825 burglaries, 1,629 DUIs, 336 weapons arrests and 488 sexual assaults; and

Whereas, in a new effort to boost their operations, criminal cartels are using social media platforms as a recruiting tool for human smuggling. Drivers are lured by social media posts promising payment of $1,500 to $2,000 for every migrant a person can transport by vehicle to Tucson or Phoenix. Known as “load-car drivers,” these individuals are mainly young people, some as young as fourteen years old, who are enticed to pick up undocumented migrants at the border and ferry them to their destinations in exchange for money. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has called on four social media giants to better monitor their platforms and ban these recruitment posts on their sites; and

Whereas, for individuals who are smuggled into the United States by Mexican and South American cartels, their arrival marks the beginning of years of drug distribution, modern-day slavery and sex trafficking to pay back the criminal cartels to which they are indebted; and

Whereas, an estimated 8% of the 1.7 million encounters last fiscal year were unaccompanied minors; and

Whereas, tragically, the prior year saw 162 migrant deaths in Southern Arizona; and

Whereas, an uncontrolled border is a security and humanitarian crisis, and the increased violence and the smuggling of illegal drugs, weapons and human beings poses a direct threat to our communities and innocent Americans; and

Whereas, the current administration has halted construction of a southern border wall, and there are numerous unfinished sections in Arizona; and

Whereas, this administration is not working collaboratively or in good faith with local law enforcement agencies and other state leaders to address the serious issues related to the border; and

Whereas, in April 2021, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency at Arizona’s southern border; and

Whereas, in February 2022, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued a legal opinion determining that the current crisis at Arizona’s southern border with the violence and lawlessness of cartels and gangs legally qualifies as an “invasion” under the United States Constitution.

Therefore, Representative Gail Griffin and the following members of the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona denounce the continued breach of our nation’s southern border and support safe communities, immediate, decisive action to secure the border and alleviate the security and humanitarian crises associated with illegal immigration.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Biden Stands Behind Sizeable Lumber Tariffs Which Threaten Housing Affordability

Biden Stands Behind Sizeable Lumber Tariffs Which Threaten Housing Affordability

By Terri Jo Neff |

The decision by President Joe Biden to sharply increase the tariff on Canadian softwood lumber to 17.99 percent is threatening housing affordability and has prompted calls from The Wall Street Journal and homebuilders for the White House to take quick action to reverse course.

More than one-quarter of softwood lumber—such as pine, cedar, fir, and spruce—used in America comes from Canada. The new tariff is twice the 8.99 percent rate in effect when Biden took office in January. It comes on the heels of wholesale lumber prices which tripled from July 2020 to July 2021, adding nearly $30,000 to the average cost of a new home, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

The NAHB says the increased tariff is adding on average another $9,000 to the price of a new home compared to July. It is also pushing up prices of renovation and remodeling projects that are critical for ensuring affordable housing options in many communities.

“The doubling of duties on Canadian softwood lumber is ill-timed and ill-advised,” NAHB Chairman John C. Fowke wrote to Biden on Dec. 3. “As has been the case for decades, the domestic lumber industry cannot, nor will not, produce enough lumber to meet U.S. consumer demand. We rely on lumber from Canada to fill the production gap, so punitive tariffs on our closest and best trading partner on a product that American consumers desperately need defies logic.”

Top NAHB officials met at the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC last week to discuss the tariffs. After the meeting, Fowke send his letter to Biden, calling on U.S. trade officials to negotiate with the Canadian government for a lumber trade agreement that eliminates tariffs and ensures a fairly priced supply of lumber.

“The tariffs harm housing affordability by acting as a tax on American home builders and home buyers, and contribute to huge price volatility in the lumber market by putting upward pressure on lumber prices,” Fowke wrote.

The association, which has 140,000 members across the country, also called on Biden to support efforts to increase domestic lumber production. “Improving the health of our nation’s forests and increasing the supply of domestic timber are not mutually exclusive goals,” Fowke wrote.

Last month the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board noted that prices for U.S.-produced lumber is at more than 75 percent above pre-pandemic levels.

“For decades U.S. sawmills haven’t been able to meet domestic demand, but they’ve leaned on government to protect their market share,” the WSJ’s opinion stated. “The shortage would be much worse if not for Canadian lumber, which backs up U.S. output.”

The tariffs, the WSJ wrote, “will raise building costs in an already strained housing market.”

Then last week, The Washington Post’s editorial board published an opinion succinctly titled “Biden is hiking lumber tariffs at the wrong time.” 

And the editorial board for the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote that driving up the cost of lumber via tariffs will discourage construction and worsen inventory shortages for southern Nevada. “Much like the weather, politicians love to talk about affordable housing but none of them want to do anything about it. Put the Biden administration firmly in that camp,” the Review-Journal noted.

1.2 Million Arizona Workers At Risk of Losing Jobs Due to Biden Vaccine Mandate

1.2 Million Arizona Workers At Risk of Losing Jobs Due to Biden Vaccine Mandate

By Corinne Murdock |

Data from the Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicated that nearly 1.2 million Arizona workers would lose their jobs under President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate. Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) office conducted the research, published through the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Businesses & Entrepreneurship days before Thanksgiving.

The 1.2 million workers account for 33 percent of Arizona’s workforce. Compliance would further cost Arizona businesses at least $70 million total. The main types of workers impacted come from America’s backbone: wholesale trade, retail, and manufacturing. These three categories of workers were largely classified as “essential workers” throughout 2020 and this year. Arizona ranked 12th for the number of workers it may lose, after California (nearly 4.8 million), Texas (over 4.5 million), Florida (over 2.9 million), New York (over 2 million), Ohio (nearly 1.9 million), Georgia (over 1.8 million), Illinois (nearly 1.7 million), Pennsylvania (under 1.7 million), North Carolina (under 1.6 million) Michigan (under 1.5 million), and Tennessee (over 1.2 million).

According to the research, nearly 45 million workers nationwide are at risk of losing their jobs: about 22 percent of the nation’s entire workforce, ringing in at a compliance cost of at least $1.29 billion.

Biden’s vaccine mandate relied on the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to require companies with 100 or more employees to have employees fully vaccinated or following standard COVID-19 safety protocols: masking and weekly testing. The mandate would require companies to provide paid time off for workers who get vaccinated, but it wouldn’t require costs of acquiring tests – though individual states or local laws might.

Based on recent court rulings, it’s unclear when the vaccine mandate would be implemented. A federal appeals court halted Biden’s vaccine mandate last month. Another federal court also halted a similar Biden mandate requiring Medicare and Medicaid health care workers to get vaccinated, in a case launched by a coalition involving Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Following that ruling, OSHA decided to suspend enforcement of the mandate.

The vaccine mandate also may face a challenge in the legislature. The Senate will vote on a resolution to effectively bar Biden’s vaccine mandate. Through the Congressional Review Act (CRA), the House and Senate may overturn a federal regulation without presidential approval. However, such a resolution would likely not advance in the Democrat-controlled House. 

Last month, one of Biden’s chief economic advisors, Jared Bernstein, told CNBC that adverse financial impacts due to the mandate would be overshadowed by the economic growth afforded by vaccinations. When asked if the Biden Administration expected companies to sacrifice their revenue growth, Bernstein said that he couldn’t speak for individual companies and that many would face “a very different outlook.”

“Those forecasts are for 4.5 and 6 percent. The connection between a strong economy and vaccinations and the trajectory of the caseload is extremely clear to me – and, in fact, quite elastic, it happens very quickly. And, of course, that is the motivation behind the vaccination program,” said Bernstein. “I’ve looked at almost every important variable I could find. Yet that does certainly make the case that vaccines, economic progress, strong growth, revenue growth, income growth, wage growth, jobs, GDP, industrial production – every variable I look at seems highly and positively elastic to these wiggles in the caseload.”

Bernstein serves on the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) alongside Chairwoman Cecilia Elena Rouse and fellow member Heather Boushey. Rouse served under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama on the National Economic Council (NEC) and CEA, respectively. Boushey would have served as the chief economic advisor for failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s transition team.

According to the CDC, a vast majority of the elderly are either partially or fully vaccinated. 88.8 percent of individuals aged 50 to 64, 99.9 percent of individuals aged 65 to 74, and 97.7 percent of individuals over 75. About 10 percent of those from each age range are awaiting their second dosage. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Senators Kelly, Sinema Support Higher Taxes for Job-Creators in Arizona Than China

Senators Kelly, Sinema Support Higher Taxes for Job-Creators in Arizona Than China

By Corinne Murdock |

Democratic Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema will likely support the Biden Administration and Democrats’ $3.5 trillion tax plan, causing Americans to pay more in corporate taxes in Arizona than in China. The bill was derived from President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Plan, and it would be the largest spending bill in American history.

If the bill passes, the federal-state corporate tax rate in Arizona would jump to over 30 percent, while China’s tax rate would be around 25 percent. That’s not including those enterprises in certain industries supported heavily by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which could receive a tax rate as low as 10 to 15 percent. Additionally, the bill would cause capital gains tax in Arizona to rise up over 35 percent, while China’s would ring in around 20 percent. This data was compiled by Americans for Tax Reform.

Back in July, Sinema expressed lack of support for the bill in July over its price tag, but not its content. At that point, Kelly hadn’t made a commitment to the bill either.

“I have also made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion,” said Sinema. “And in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona’s economy and help Arizona’s everyday families get ahead.”

However, both Sinema and Kelly voted in favor of the framework for the $3.5 trillion plan last month.

The Biden Administration and Democratic Party’s proposed tax increases would cause the U.S. to have one of the highest capital gains taxes in the world.

Analysts with the Tax Foundation estimated that the impact of this policy would reduce the GDP by about one percent: more than $2 for every $1 in new tax revenue, or about $332 billion of lost output annually. Over the course of a decade, the cumulative GDP would reduce by nearly $1.2 to $1.8 trillion, which they stated would far exceed the amount of revenue the plan would raise in the same amount of time.

All while eliminating an estimated 303,000 full-time jobs. The primary cause for these projected negative changes comes from the proposed corporate tax rate. They estimate that this alone would reduce the GDP by .6 percent and eliminate 107,000 jobs.

As for after-tax incomes, they estimated that individual taxpayers would see an average reduction of $800 each year.

The Tax Foundation’s Senior Policy Analyst, Garrett Watson, assessed that ultimately, low- and middle-income families would feel these repercussions the most.

“The economic harm caused by the tax increases would claw back some of the plan’s expanded tax credits aimed at low- and middle-income families. For those in the bottom 30 percent, it would reduce the average net benefit of the plan per filer from $341 to $233, a 30 percent reduction,” wrote Watson. “Before accounting for economic effects, filers in the middle quintile would see a decrease in average after-tax income of about $38 – mostly due to the corporate tax increases – but that would rise to a $493 drop in average after-tax income every year when including the negative economic effects. The top quintile would see a $1,287 drop in average after-tax income, rising to a $3,861 drop in average after-tax income on a dynamic basis.”

They also noted that these proposed changes would raise a net federal revenue of around $1.1 trillion from next year to 2031, without accounting for dynamic factors like the estimated reduction in economy size. However, that revenue would be reduced by $1 trillion in tax credits. If dynamic factors weren’t excluded, federal revenue would ring in around $804 billion in revenue net of tax credits.

Per a poll released by Navigator Research earlier this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed that an overwhelming majority of Americans supported the Build Back Better Act. The results meted out to 66 percent of Americans, 61 percent of independents, and 39 percent of Republicans.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.