President Joe Biden talks on the phone with Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) following the Senate vote to pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, Aug. 10, 2021, in the Oval Office Dining Room of the White House. (Adam Schultz/Official White House Photo)
(*This story was updated at 7:56 a.m. on Monday, 8/15/22 to clarify data on older voters)
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
*The numbers are pretty clear: The numbers are pretty clear: Older Americans came out in droves in 2020, with voters aged 65-74 turning out at more than 75 percent.
By the time the dust settled, this coveted voting bloc pretty much evenly split its vote between President Joe Biden (48 percent) and former President Donald Trump (52 percent), according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center.
Even so, older voters made up a key portion of Biden’s coalition, lured by his promises of being a steady hand after four years of chaotic leadership under a Republican administration, as NBC News reported a month ahead of Election Day in October 2020.
Now, with control of Congress on the line, and Pennsylvania a key part of their electoral strategy, Democrats are making a play for the Keystone State’s older voters with a new digital ad campaign highlighting what they say are Republican-backed plans to cut Social Security and Medicare.
For the completists among you, the release of this new campaign by the Democratic National Committee comes the day after Social Security’s 87th birthday on Sunday.
Democrats have spent months hammering a plan floated by U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., the head of the Senate GOP’s re-election wing, that called for, among other things, Congress to reauthorize all legislation that’s now in law after five years.
While that doesn’t necessarily mean that a Republican-controlled U.S. Senate would vote to sunset Social Security, Medicare, or other third-rail entitlement programs, Democrats aren’t leaving anything to chance. It’s worth noting here that these arguments also have been been roundly criticized by nonpartisan fact-checkers.
In May, facing a similar DNC ad blitz, Scott still doubled-down on the proposal (which most Republicans believe would not come to fruition) in an ad of his own, arguing that “Washington hates it. That’s how you know it’s good,” Roll Call reported at the time.
While it’s not immune to criticism, the New Deal-era program remains hugely popular with American voters, with a 2020 AARP poll finding “near-universal” support as it neared its 85th birthday. Medicare, a Great Society program, enjoys similar popular support.
Nearly 3 million Pennsylvanians depend on the two programs to help cover their bills and for their health coverage.
In a statement, Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison juxtaposed Scott’s plan against legislation, passed by Democrats only, and headed for Biden’s desk, that would preserve health coverage and lower prescription drug costs.
“Instead of celebrating Social Security on its 87th birthday, Republicans are doubling down on their ultra-MAGA agenda of cutting Social Security and Medicare, which could put the benefits that Pennsylvania seniors rely on in jeopardy,” Harrison said.
Pennsylvania’s nationally watched U.S. Senate race, between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz, is one of several that could determine control of the 50-50 chamber, where Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris wields a tie-breaking vote. Fetterman currently is leading in the polls.
“As Democrats are poised to lower prescription drug costs and continue protecting Medicare for seniors, Republicans have rallied behind plans that could slash their hard earned benefits – showing that only one party is fighting for Pennsylvania seniors this November,” Harrison said.
As was the case two years ago, we’ll know after Election Day whose argument was the more effective.
Advocates are looking for new ways to fill city ‘food deserts,’ our friends at Stateline.org write in a special report.
Abortion is still legal in Pennsylvania up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, but there’s no guarantee the law will stay that way, Marley Parish reports in an in-depth piece laying out the high-stakes, post-Roe political landscape.
In Pennsylvania, the overall maternal mortality rate is 82 deaths per-100,000 live births, according to the Department of Health. For people of color, the mortality rate is 163 per-100,000 live births, Cassie Miller reports.
U.S. Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, R-15th District, could help lead the debate in the U.S. House next year on the 2023 Farm Bill if the GOP prevails in the midterms, Capital-Star Washington Correspondent Allison Winter reports.
Methamphetamine addiction remains an LGBTQ health issue, especially among gay and bisexual men, our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News report.
Nearly 3,300 undergraduate students at La Salle University will be able to minor in Black Studies this fall, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.
En la Estrella-Capital: Los Demócratas y los defensores del aborto de Pensilvania ven paralelismos en la votación por el derecho al aborto en Kansas. Y Los fiscales generales del estado, incluida a Pensilvania, apoyan la nueva regla avícola pero cuestionan la supervisión.
On our Commentary Page this morning: Abortion should be a kitchen table conversation, Alison Egbers, a social worker, writes in a piece first published by our sibling site, Colorado Newsline. And opinion regular Dick Polman warns against counting out President Joe Biden.
The Philly schools have hired 700 new teachers for the coming school year, the Inquirer reports.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz campaigned at Bethlehem’s MusikFest in violation of its policy, LehighValleyLive reports (via PennLive). And a festival crowd was sent scrambling after an apparent shooting late Saturday night, the Morning Call reports.
An incarcerated man has died in Allegheny County Jail. It’s the fifth death this year, the Post-Gazette reports.
An isolated neighborhood in northeastern Pennsylvania is slated to be eliminated for an Interstate 81 expansion, the Citizens’ Voice reports.
SEPTA will change schedules and add service as it seeks to boost ridership, WHYY-FM reports.
There’s free monkeypox testing in Erie. GoErie runs down what you need to know.
There are just as many competitive U.S. House races this year as usual, Roll Call reports.
Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:
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What Goes On
1 p.m., Harrisburg: Joint State Government Commission
1 p.m., Philadelphia: House State Government Committee
As of this writing, Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.
Here’s one from Black Pumas to get your Monday morning rolling. It’s the very soulful ‘Colors.’
Monday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link
Bookending Friday’s entry in this space: The Guardian surveys this weekend’s round of Premier League play with 10 talking points from the last 48 hours. Notably, what’s ailing Manchester United?
And now you’re up to date.
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