Inflation: What Should the Fed Do and How Far Should It Go?

U.S. Federal Reserve Bank

Inflation is about Monetary Policy

Inflation appears to be at the top of everyone’s mind lately. That is understandable given that current inflation rates are at 40 year highs. It is likely to play a major role in determining the outcome of the 2022 mid-term elections, despite the fact that there is much bi-partisan blame to be parceled out for the current high rates of inflation. There are, also, a lot of silly proposals on the table for combating it, e.g. price controls and gas tax holidays. There are also some ideas that may be reasonable policy suggestions, in their own right, but have nothing to do with inflation, e.g. lowering tariffs, allowing Medicare to negotiate some drug prices, or facilitating more domestic energy production.

Milton Friedman, a Noble prize winning economist famous for his work on monetary theory and policy, said that “inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon.” Things like supply chain problems, higher oil and gas prices, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the rapid snap back from the Covid 19 induced recession, and aggressive fiscal policy did play a role. They helped to kick start the current inflation, but in the absence of accommodating monetary policy they would not have caused persistent inflation.

The Theory

In theory, all of the above would have resulted in some things becoming more expensive. Absent monetary accommodation, these price increases would have been accompanied by declining prices for other goods and services. If those price declines did not materialize, because of “sticky wages and prices” we would have seen a recession until the under-employment of labor and other resources forced a relative price adjustment.

Evidence Backing the Theory

Those who think this is just theory should take a look at the inflation rates in Switzerland. The inflation rate in Switzerland (3.4%) is about half that of the rest of Europe (8.6%), yet virtually all of the litany of other factors listed above were present for Switzerland. What is different? Switzerland does not use the Euro and Switzerland’s monetary policy is not controlled by the European Central Bank (the European version of the Fed). Also of note is Turkey, which runs its own, extremely loose, monetary policy and has an inflation rate of 78.6%.

The History: The Fed, The Energy Crisis, and Monetary Policy in the 1970’s

In the 1970’s the Federal Reserve Board attempted to avert a recession, in the aftermath of that decade’s oil price shocks, by expanding the money supply. The idea was to produce just enough inflation so that wages and prices for non-energy intensive goods could decline in real terms (but stay constant in nominal terms) while prices in energy intensive industries could increase in real and nominal terms. Done just right this results in mild inflation and no recession. Sadly, the strategy is nearly impossible to execute properly. The problem is that inflation, once started is devilishly difficult to stop. The result was the “stagflation” of the 1970’s, high inflation and low growth. It was not until Paul Volcker really put the screws to the system, in the early 1980’s, and drove interest rates over 20%, that inflation was finally crushed.

What Should the Fed Do Now?

The policy solution is straight forward, if somewhat distasteful. The Fed needs to reduce the rate of growth of the money supply and quickly raise real interest rates with all of the tools it has at its disposal.

Calculation of Real Interest Rates

Real interest rates are the difference between the nominal interest rate and the expected rate of inflation.

The 10 Year Real Interest Rate

In calculating real interest rates it is important to subtract an estimate of inflationary expectations rather than a historical inflation rate, like the CPI, from current interest rates. The problem with using calculated measures of inflation, like the Consumer Price Index (CPI), is that they are backward looking and the current interest rate is forward looking. If we use the current nominal yield on 10 year Treasuries of 2.9% and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ estimate of average inflationary expectations over 10 years of 2.34%, the real 10 year interest rate is 0.56% (2.9 minus 2.34), or nearly zero.

The Short Term Real Interest Rate

If we use the New York Fed’s estimate of 12 month forward inflationary expectations of 6.8%, the real short-term (one year) interest rate is -3.8% based on the current nominal yield on Treasuries of about 3%.

However you look at it, real interest rates, despite recent Fed action, are still either extremely low or significantly negative.

What Should the Target Be?

How high should the Fed push real interest rates? Reasonable people can disagree about the target and the speed for getting there. My own preference would be to see real short-term (1 year) interest rates at about 1-2% and long term (10-30 year) real rates of 3-4%. Getting there will require nominal interest rates in the high single digits or possibly higher. I am not sure what the appropriate speed should be to reach this target but I am sure that it is faster than the Fed is currently moving.

Will this Mean a Recession?

Maybe, but the longer we wait before trying to bring inflation down, the deeper and longer lasting the recession will be. We have already waited too long.

Hypocrisy of Supporting the Most Extreme Candidate in the Other Party.

Vote to Prune the Political Field of Extremists

I am dismayed by reports that Democrats worked successfully to promote the candidacy of the an extreme right wing candidate in the Maryland Republican primary race for governor. Can it be the case that these folks believe that the only way they can get an odiously left-wing Democrat elected is by having an even more odiously right-wing Republican as their opponent?

The Centrist Independent Voter recommends that Democrats and Republicans cross party lines, where it is permitted, to vote for more centrist candidates. The intent of this strategy is to increase the likelihood that the general election will present voters with acceptable, if not always ideal choices. For more on this issue, visit the strategy discussion on the Candidates page of this web site.

Sadly, what seems to be emerging is the opposite strategy, where Democratic funds and voters are being directed to elect the most extreme candidates in the Republican primaries. The tactic actually has a name, it is called the “Pied Piper” strategy. It was also, reportedly, used by Gov. J.B. Pritzger (D), in Illinois, to promote the candidacy of a weaker, more right-wing Republican candidate in the Republican primary. In Pennsylvania, Democrats helped push state Sen. Doug Mastriano, an avid Trump supporter, to victory in the Republican primary for governor.

In the up-coming August 2nd primary, in Arizona, Democrats are working to support another Trump endorsed candidate, Kari Lake, against the establishment backed candidate Karrin Taylor Robson.

I am unaware of the same tactic being adopted by Republicans. If Republicans are also using this tactic, I find it equally hypocritical. Please let me know, through the comment section below, if you know of other examples of either party promoting extremist opposition candidates.

How can Democratic or Republican loyalists decry the extremism of the other party while working to make the other party’s candidates as extreme as possible?

Apart from the hypocrisy, support for the other party’s most extreme candidate is a dangerous strategy. Candidates fall ill, scandals happen, and the electoral mood shifts. It does not take much imagination to see these weak opposition candidates sometimes winning. Remember, many Democrats, including Hillary Clinton’s staff in a memo to the DNC, cheered Trump and other far right candidates, in 2015, because they thought them unelectable.

How to Discourage this Strategy

This dangerous strategy of promoting your opposition’s most extreme candidate works best in plurality primaries, i.e. ones which do not require a runoff to determine a winner by a majority. The best protection against this strategy is a ranked choice primary, with an instant runoff. The Centrist Independent Voter favors this approach for a number of reasons. To learn more about it visit our policy position on Voting Rights and Reforms.

Packing the Court vs. Ending the Filibuster?

The U.S. Capital Building and The U.S. Supreme Court

In response to the recent Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, there have been proposals to eliminate the filibuster rule and also to enlarge the number of justices on the Supreme Court. The Centrist Independent Voter opposes expanding the size of the Supreme Court and getting rid of the filibuster rule in the Senate. Our feeling is that packing the Court would result in an endless cycle of Court expansion as party control shifts over time. Similarly, the end of the filibuster would mean that every time the planets aligned with one party in control of the House, Senate, and the Presidency, major legislation would be enacted or repealed, reversing course on a limitless number of issues.

But what if we had to choose?

Suppose we could either hold onto a stable size for the Court or hold onto the filibuster rule, but not both. What should we choose? In that case, my preference would be to keep the Court stable and move toward simple majority rule in the Senate.

The Role of the Court as a Safety Valve, Securing the Consent of the Governed

The current conservative Court is taking the position that the Court’s previous decision in Roe was constitutionally unjustified. They argue that the decision made by the previous Court was a legislative prerogative, and not up to the Court to decide based on a constitutional right to abortion.

The current Court is not taking a position on the policy issue; it is just saying that it is not up to the Court to decide this issue. I would have preferred that they let the precedent stand, but their argument is not unreasonable. But what if the federal legislature is institutionally unable to reflect popular sentiment? For roughly three quarters of a century, the Court has acted as a safety valve. In Brown v. the Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, Griswold v. Connecticut, Lawrence v. Texas, and in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Court has stepped in to resolve issues on which majority opinion, in most if not all of these cases, would have been frustrated by the filibuster rule. Whatever one thinks about the constitutional reasoning in these cases (and I am not disputing that reasoning), the Court served a useful purpose in securing the consent of the governed by reflecting the popular will. This may not be the proper role for the Supreme Court, but it can be argued that it was a useful one.

The Case Against Expanding the Court

There is nothing in the Constitution that dictates the size of the court. It has varied over time from as few as 6 to as many as 10. Re-establishing a liberal court would require increasing the Court to 13. If this were done we could expect that every time the House, Senate and Presidency were all controlled by the same party the Court would be enlarged again without limit. The notion of a massive Supreme Court, flipping every few years in its interpretation of the Constitution is enough to persuade most people that this would be a bad idea.

The Case for Abandoning the Filibuster Rule

If we reject enlarging the Court and the Court refuses to take on the role of providing a backstop when the legislature seems institutionally incapable of representing the will of the governed, what can be done? The obvious answer seems to be reforming the legislature to make it more responsive to the popular will. The simplest solution appears to be going to strict majority rule in the Senate.

The Case Against Abandoning the Filibuster Rule

The case against abandoning the filibuster rule is similar to the case against enlarging the Court. When the House, the Senate, and the Presidency are all controlled by the same party we could expect to see 180 degree turns in public policy, with old legislation being repealed and new legislation being added, reversing the course of public policy. Given the need for stability in public policy, particularly in areas that require long range planning, this seems like a recipe for disaster. To understand the reluctance of some Democrats for eliminating the filibuster one only has to contemplate a national prohibition on abortion.

How Often Does One Party have Total Control of the Federal Government?

Just how dangerous would it be to end the filibuster rule? Partly this depends on the frequency of single party control over the federal government. Unfortunately, single party control, for brief periods of time, is extremely common. Because so many people just vote the party ticket of the President they are choosing, we often have single party control upon the election of a new President. Split ticket voting in Presidential election years is relatively rare and stable at about 4%. The danger of frequent legislative flip-flops is, therefore, all too real.

So Why is Abandoning the Filibuster Superior to Packing the Court?

Abandoning the filibuster rule is better because it can be beneficial if it is done as a half measure. Packing the Court only changes the outcome if it establishes a new majority. Reducing the required vote for cloture (closing off debate and voting) to 55 Senators rather than the current requirement of 60 could yield benefits without losing the benefits of the filibuster rule altogether. Nothing is sacred about the 60 vote limit. In the past, the rule was reduced from 67 Senators to the current 60. Setting the threshold at 55 could allow some legislation, on which there is a measure of bi-partisan support, to get through the Senate. I am thinking that, with a little electoral luck, narrowly crafted legislative protection for the rights embodied under Roe could meet this test. I also think that stronger legislation on universal background checks, age restrictions on the purchase of assault weapons, and better enforcement of red flag laws might also meet this test. It is also the case that 55 Senators, from one party, might be achieved occasionally but not so often as a simple majority. This all makes for a more responsive legislature, but hedges, at least a little, against frequent policy reversals.

What can be done to make this happen?

The reason why the filibuster persists is that both parties recognize the danger of occasionally handing that kind of power to the other side. I don’t think that is likely to change soon, although the concern would be alleviated by the presence of a large number of moderate Republicans and Democrats in the legislature. Putting aside wishful thinking about a less polarized political environment, our best hope is that both sides will see the advantage of weakening, but not abandoning, the filibuster rule and leaving the Court alone. It allows both sides to believe that they might ultimately prevail and mitigates the outcome if they fail to do so.

“Galactically Stupid” Policy Ideas

Galactially Stupid Policy Ideas

The Centrist Independent Voter publishes a Rogues Gallery of candidates that we view as so extreme that we would never endorse them.

I think it is time for us to publish a list of policy ideas that are so counterproductive that we would never support them. To achieve this august status, a policy proposal has to not only be less than the best solution, it has to actually make the situation it is intended to solve, worse. I propose that we call these policies “Galactically Stupid.” The phrase is borrowed from “A Few Good Men,” a movie from 1992.

Not all bad public policies are “Galactically Stupid.” Some policies are just bad because there are better ways of accomplishing the same thing. Regulations on emissions of pollution are worse than taxing pollutants but such regulations are better than doing nothing at all.

That said, some policy ideas are just dumb on an interstellar scale.

Galactically Stupid Ideas on the Left

Price Controls

Candidates for the status of Galactically Stupid on the left include: wage and price controls, “windfall” profits taxes, anti-price gouging laws, and rent controls. If you sense a common theme, you are right. All of these involve the government trying to regulate prices.

Prices serve a vital role in an economy. They signal goods whose production needs to be increased or decreased. They signal places where goods are in short supply and thereby direct supplies to those regions. They signal activities that require more investment, or less. Attempt to governmentally control prices and you create shortages, lines and other inefficient forms of rationing, including black markets.

Generally, price controls raise the real price of goods being regulated by making those goods more scarce. You may not see that price, but you will experience it through the difficulty of finding the regulated good at the official price.

President Biden’s implicit threat to regulate refinery margins qualifies as Galactically Stupid. Elizabeth Warren’s anti-price gouging legislation also falls into this group. To understand how bad these policy positions are, it is helpful to reflect on why refinery margins are high right now. Demand for gasoline and refinery margins cratered during the pandemic and many refineries were shut down. When gasoline demand rebounded, refiners were reluctant to invest in reopening those refineries or building new ones. Who would feel like doing so in a “heads I lose, tails you win” environment? Talk of eliminating fossil fuels doesn’t help either, in terms of incentives for refinery expansion.

So having created a problem by destroying incentives for refinery expansion or new refineries, left wing populists use the inevitably higher refinery margins that follow to justify price controls or windfall profits taxes that make the situation worse.

Non-Global Solutions to Global Warming

Unilateral approaches to climate change that fail to address the global nature of the problem also strike me as Galactically Stupid. Banning the use of fossil fuels in America is counterproductive if it simply shifts the production of energy intensive goods to China or India. Remember, the goods then have to be shipped back here with a net increase in green house gas emissions.

The Centrist Independent Voter does believe that climate change is a serious problem and supports a carbon tax with an associated tariff as the best way for dealing with the problem. We suggest that solution because it recognizes the inherently global nature of the problem.

Galactic Stupidity Ideas on the Right

So far, all of my suggestions for Galactically Stupid public policy solutions have come from the left. There is no shortage of Galactically Stupid ideas coming out of the right.

Intransigence on Gun Control/Gun Safety Laws

One that comes to mind is the position that no gun safety/control legislation can be justified. While the Centrist Independent Voter supports the Heller decision that the Constitution guarantees an individual right to bear arms, we also agree with the Supreme Court that this right is not unlimited. Refusal to even contemplate any restrictions on gun ownership only results in increased support for total bans on gun ownership with each mass shooting.

Isolationism

Right wing isolationists, like Sen. Rand Paul, also increase the likelihood that the United States will have to expend lives and money defending ourselves against emboldened and strengthened adversaries, made more powerful by America’s failure to confront them earlier. For these and other reasons, Rand Paul appears in the Centrist Independent Voter’s Rogues Gallery of candidates we can never endorse.

Galactically Stupid Populist Ideas

Protectionism

It has now become acceptable for both Republican and Democratic populist politicians to blame international trade for the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs. The policy suggestion is higher tariffs on imports and re-writing free trade agreements, like NAFTA, to reflect a more protectionist point of view. (This the purpose of Trump’s USMCA agreement.) The truth is that the relative decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs has far more to do with technological change than foreign competition. It is also important to remember that low cost supply chains are crucial for U.S. competitiveness in global markets.

So what happens when we institute protective tariffs? Well, first the world becomes poorer as other countries do the same and global manufacturing becomes more expensive. Second, the temporarily higher wages in the U.S. accelerate automation and those jobs are permanently eliminated.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not an advocate of unilateral adoption of free trade policies. Sensibly negotiated mutual trade pacts, like NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), we’re win-win situations for the participants. The Centrist Independent Voter supports expanding these efforts.

I am also aware that some technologies should not be shared with countries that are antagonistic toward U.S. interests, like Russia and China.

Any Recommendations?

If you can think of other policy proposals that deserve to be labeled Galactically Stupid, please submit them in the comment section below. Remember the key thing that qualifies a policy for this category is that it is counterproductive to solving the problem that the policy addresses.

Gun Control

Gun Control Legislation

The Centrist Independent Voter policy position on gun control supports the Heller decision by the Supreme Court. That decision made it clear that there is a constitutionally protected, individual, right to bear arms. It also clearly states, as President Biden noted last night, that that right is not unlimited.

Now that Congress is considering passing legislation to codify some of the limits on gun rights, I think that CIVPAC should take sides on what those limits should be. Here is my list:

1) Banning the sale of high powered, semi-automatic rifles (i.e. assault weapons), or at a minimum raising the age to purchase these guns to 21, with waiting periods for anyone else wishing to purchase an assault weapon;

2) Banning the sale of high capacity magazines and bump stocks;

3) Raising the age to purchase any gun to 21;

4) Universal background checks with no loopholes for gun shows or online sales;

5) Red Flag laws that can prevent those who are under court orders from getting guns;

6) Regulation of “ghost guns,” (unregulated firearms that anyone-including minors and prohibited purchasers-can buy and build without a background check);

7) Making those who, through negligence or intentionally, allow their firearms to be used by others, legally liable for crimes committed with those firearms. This would, also, apply to those who illegally sell firearms.

Why Not Remove Liability Protection for Gun Manufacturers?

Much of this list overlaps with President Biden’s proposals. One thing that is missing is removing liability protection for gun manufacturers, for the use of guns in the commission of crimes. I view that part of the Biden package as a reward to the plaintiffs’ bar. The plaintiffs’ bar is to the Democratic Party what the NRA is to the Republican Party.

The reason why the liability protection for gun manufacturers exists in the first place is because many believe, with some justification, that without it law suits would effectively make the sale of firearms prohibitively expensive. Many view removing this protection as a slow form of banning the purchase of guns altogether. We do not hold automobile manufacturers liable if one of their cars is used to rob a bank or kills someone in an accident caused by the driver. It is not necessary to provide this kind of protection for automobile manufacturers because no one believes a jury would hold automakers liable under these circumstances. The same cannot be said for juries trying to find someone to punish after a mass shooting in which the perpetrator is dead.

At the same time, it would not be unreasonable to hold manufacturers accountable if they intentionally marketed legal guns that could easily be converted into illegal guns, when there was a way of manufacturing the gun that could easily prevent this from happening. The key here is to find a good faith method of regulating the industry that is not a gift to the plaintiffs’ bar and provides clear guidelines to the industry about what is legal and what is not.

For a thoughtful history of the Second Amendment and battles over gun control, see Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, by Adam Winkler. Winkler is a professor at the UCLA School of Law and has been ranked as one of the twenty most cited legal scholars in judicial opinions, including landmark Supreme Court cases on the First and Second Amendments.

Proposed Addition to Policy Position on Higher Education

A member has suggested an addition to the Centrist Independent Voter policy position on higher education. The suggestion is to make federally financed student debt dischargable in bankruptcy. In addition, in order for students to be eligible for federally financed student loans, their educational institution must agree to reimburse the government for 1/2 of any loan balance discharged or forgiven by the federal government under the original terms of the loan.

Obviously, a great many students would be technically bankrupt on graduation, so some kind of delay on allowing the debt to be discharable in bankruptcy would be necessary. I would suggest 10 years, but that is just an arbitrary suggestion.

Other suggestions are welcome. Comment below.

“Price Gouging”: The Futility of Progressive Politics

What is Price Gouging Anyway?

Elizabeth Warren Seizes the Stage Again

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has grabbed the spotlight with another foolish idea: price controls. She calls it “Anti-Price Gouging.”

Why are Price Controls Bad?

Those of you, who are old enough, will remember waiting in line, for hours sometimes, to fill up your gas tank in the late 1970’s. Why did that happen: price controls. What happened when price controls were abandoned: no lines. This isn’t complicated. Anyone who manages to make it to the mid-term exam in the first micro-economics course can explain why. Draw a demand curve and a supply curve. Where they intersect is the market price. Now draw a line horizontally across below the market price at the controlled price. Note the difference between the quantity demanded, at that controlled price, and the quantity supplied. That difference is the shortage you have just created with price controls.

Anti-price gouging has no meaning, unless it means imposing price controls.

Who is Pushing for Price Controls?

Warren wants to combat “price-gouging.” which means she either wants to engage in meaningless political posturing or she wants the FTC to impose price controls. She has some allies in the Senate and House. The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.). In the U.S. House of Representatives, this legislation is cosponsored by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Val Demings (D-Fla.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), and Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.).

If you follow the Centrist Independent Voters Rogues Gallery of candidates (ones we would find it difficult to ever endorse) you will recognize many of these names.

For the purpose of completeness, I will be adding Warren and her co-sponsors to the list, most of them, including Warren, all already there.

2022 Utah Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate

2022 Utah Republican Primary for U.S. Senate

The Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat is scheduled for June 28, 2022.

Mike Lee, the incumbent U.S. Senator from Utah, has gone from a Trump skeptic to a Trump enabler.

If the Utah Republican Party nominates Lee for the U.S. Senate race in 2022, it is likely that the Centrist Independent Voter will endorse his independent opponent, Evan McMullin, in the general election. The Utah Democratic party has chosen to forego nominating a candidate and has endorsed McMullin. McMullin is a center-right candidate and is attempting to forge an alliance of Democrats, independents, and disgruntled Republicans. If Lee wins in the primary this strategy might well succeed, as noted in this article in the Economist.

The other Republican candidates for this seat , according to Ballotpedia, are Becky Edwards and Ally Isom. Of these, Becky Edwards appears to have the stronger chance of defeating Lee based on polling data.

Edwards is reliably conservative and hardly a centrist, but she does not have Trump’s endorsement and has the best chance of defeating Lee. The Centrist Independent Voter, therefore, endorses Becky Edwards in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat from Utah.

To see other Centrist Independent Voter endorsements in the primaries visit 2022 Primary Endorsements. To see Centrist Independent Voter endorsements for the general election visit 2022 General Election Endorsements.

Draft Abortion Decision

Supreme Court Draft Decision

I just finished reading the introduction to the draft Supreme Court decision on the Mississippi abortion law. I highly recommend reading it before leaping into the debate on this issue.

The Centrist Independent Voter position on Abortion is in our policy position section.

I don’t agree with the conclusions presented in the introduction. I do think that the Court did have the choice of holding that Roe and Casey were settled law and that therefore the Mississippi law was unconstitutional. They could also have decided that, in line with Casey, the Mississippi law did not constitute an “undue burden” and was therefore acceptable.

How Broad are the Implications of this Decision, if Adopted?

I do agree with the author that this draft decision, if adopted, would not spell the end of other Supreme Court decisions on sexual relations, contraception, and marriage. All of those decisions addressed due process and individual liberty in situations that did not potentially affect an “unborn life.”

Where Do We Go From Here?

If this decision is adopted, the correct course of action is not packing the Court or eliminating the filibuster. Packing the Court will only lead to an ever larger Court, as each side gains enough power to add more Justices who favor their views. Breaking the filibuster means national legislation that will flip back and forth as each side gains a legislative majority and the Presidency.

The correct course of action is, first, to get busy at the the state level and pass legislation that secures some level of abortion rights. On this effort a willingness to compromise would be helpful. The second course of action is for Democrats to realize that they could have a solid 60+ majority in the Senate, if they became a true center left party and ignored the wishes of the progressive wing of the party. Once that is accomplished, we can have a national legislative compromise on the issue of abortion that securely establishes a reasonable degree of protection for abortion rights. This will probably resemble a legislative version of Roe.

The Pennsylvania 2022 Primaries

The Pennsylvania 2022 Primary: May 17, 2022

The race for the U.S. Senate seat from Pennsylvania, currently held by Pat Toomey (R) is heating up. Toomey is not running and there is a big field in both the Republican and Democratic primaries.

The Democratic Primary

The four candidates in the Democratic primary are: Conor Lamb, Alexandria Khalil, Malcolm Kenyatta, and John Fetterman. Khalil, Kenyatta, and Fetterman all seem to be competing for the progressive vote. Conor Lamb is reliably left of center on most issues. He is also a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, which earns him our endorsement in the Democratic primary. The Philadelphia Inquirer, also, identifies him as the most moderate candidate in the race.

The Republican Primary

The seven candidates in the Republican Primary are: Kathy Barnette, Jeff Bartos, George Bochetto, Sean Gale, David McCormick, Mehmet Oz, and Carla Sands. Oz managed to secure Donald Trump’s endorsement which excludes him from our endorsement. Oz has no political or public policy experience and he would not have gotten our endorsement even if Trump had not endorsed him. While there isn’t anyone remotely centrist running for this seat as a Republican, the least extreme candidate appears to be Jeff Bartos. On the basis of this dubious distinction Bartos is able to garner our endorsement for the Republican primary.

Our overall recommendation is, therefore, to vote for Conor Lamb in the Democratic primary, if you can. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is a closed primary state and you have to register by May 2, 2022. If you have to vote in the Republican primary, our recommendation is Jeff Bartos.

For an up-to-date summary of all Centrist Independent Voter endorsements to date for the 2022 primary season visit the Candidates page.