Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
It’s already well known that a critical part of President Donald Trump’s path to a second term runs through the Keystone State. And if some new economic data is any indication, there’s reason to believe that it might have gotten a tad more bumpy.
Through June of this year, Pennsylvania businesses and consumers paid $816 million in import taxes on goods as a result of the Trump administration’s tariffs, including $44 million in June alone.
That data comes from a group calling itself “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland,” a wide-ranging coalition of agriculture commodity groups and trade associations opposed to an economic strategy that they view as a tax on consumers and business.
“Since the trade war began, Pennsylvania exports have faced $458 million in new retaliatory tariffs from our trading partners, including $44 million in June,” the group said in an email blast to campaign reporters this week.
On Capitol Hill, the tariffs have netted Trump bipartisan rancor, with even such free-trade favoring Republicans such as U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., coming out against them.
In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, where Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton by 44,000 votes in 2016, little more than a third of registered voters (37 percent) think the Republican is doing a good or excellent job almost three years into his presidency.
Combined, 20 percent of respondents to that August poll by Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster listed taxes (16 percent) or the economy (4 percent) as their top issues. While the poll found voters in a generally good mood about the economy and the state’s current direction, it’s not inconceivable that the sentiment could erode if the nation slides into a recession, as some analysts now believe could happen in 2020.
And new polling data indicates that Americans have tired of the administration’s ongoing trade war with China, among other nations, the longer it’s lasted.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans now say they support free trade with foreign countries, according to an Aug. 18 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. That result is an all-time high, representing a 7-percentage point leap since the last time that question was asked in 2017, NBC News reported.
Just four in 10 respondents to that NBC/Wall Street Journal poll approved of Trump’s job performance and said they planned to vote for him in 2020.
Trump’s position is just as precarious in Pennsylvania, where two in five (38 percent) registered voters believes Trump deserves reelection, while three in five (61 percent) voters say it’s time for a change, Franklin & Marshall pollsters found.
Trump’s saving grace, to date, has been for his management of the economy. But that surging support for free trade isn’t a good omen for the former real estate developer.
“This is not an attractive set of numbers for an incumbent,” Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the national survey with the Democratic pollsters from Hart Research Associates, told NBC News.
Environmental activists are pressuring Democratic lawmakers to drop their support for Gov. Tom Wolf’s $4.5 billion, bond-funded ‘Restore PA’ infrastructure plan. They’ve met with limited success, Stephen Caruso reports. But there could still be enough defections and a lack of overall Democratic support to scuttle the administration’s legacy-burnishing proposal.
On our Commentary Page, state Sen. Tom Killion, R-Delaware, says Pennsylvania needs a Red Flag law to fight gun violence and to prevent suicide, and it needs one now.
Opinion regular Mark O’Keefe also has his own take on Trump’s Pennsylvania polling problems. But, he notes, it’s still a long time until Election Day.
The Inquirer has the details on a potential spring 2020 primary challenge to Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro by Lisa Rau, wife of Philly DA Larry Krasner (and how progressive billionaire George Soros is once again at play in city politics).
Allegheny County DA Stephen Zappala has released body camera footage in a police-involved fatal shooting in Penn Hills, the Post-Gazette reports.
The state is building a new office building on North Street in Harrisburg that will eventually house 900 employees, PennLive reports.
The Morning Call looks at where Pennsylvania, and the Lehigh Valley, rank in clean energy utilization.
Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:
Women police officers in Philadelphia file civil rights lawsuits against the department every other month, BillyPenn reports, citing department records.
The Incline profiles the Pittsburgh residents who are making the city cleaner — and greener.
Gov. Tom Wolf has told pipeline activists that he’s not going to shut down the Mariner East pipeline, the PA Post reports.
More than a fifth of grandparents raising their kids’ kids are poor. Stateline.org looks at what state governments are doing to help them.
The Trump administration has dropped plans to cancel more than $4 billion in unspent foreign aid in the wake of bipartisan blowback on Capitol Hill, Roll Callreports.
Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.
What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
State Rep. Kurt Masser, R-Northumberland, holds his 9th annual golf outing at Indian Hills Golf and Tennis Club in scenic Paxinos, Pa. Admission runs $200 to $2,500.
You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to our former PennLive colleague, Geoff Morrow, who’s now working for House Democrats. Congratulations and enjoy the day, sir.
And now you’re up to date.