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State lawmaker wasn’t being factual

Editor’s note: This letter was sent to state Rep. Kerry Benninghoff and a copy was submitted to The Sentinel for publication.

Dear Rep. Benninghoff:

Re: your interview of 8/25/21 with Brian Cox of the Lewistown Sentinel, printed in the 8/26/21 edition of The Sentinel. I would like to comment on and correct several logical and factual errors in your remarks.

You say that “I love talking to people who come here from other countries because they’re so proud to be here.” I hope that you mean this, and that you support the Pennsylvania organizations, such as Church World Service in Lancaster, and the International Service Center and Catholic Charities of Harrisburg, which are preparing to provide aid to Afghan refugees. Since the Pa. Dept. of Human Services does not provide placement services, I hope that you will encourage federal legislators in the Republican Party to do this.

You comment on the current shortage of workers, something you attribute “at least partially to some making as much or more money on unemployment as they did prior to losing their jobs during the pandemic.” The $600 per week in additional unemployment payments that the Biden administration provided for the unemployed has been reduced to $300 and is currently set to end on Sept. 6, 2021. These benefits could possibly be extended; a decision has not been made. Only in three states (Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming) were the combined state and federal ($300 per week) unemployment benefits exceeding those states’ average wages. Only 3% of individuals are earning enough from unemployment that they have no financial need to return to work.

Stagnant wages have been a problem for decades; the minimum wage is still only $7.25 per hour. Workers want better working conditions, especially non-union and restaurant workers. Finally, workers realize due to the lockdown, that remote work is possible, providing a better balance of work and home life. You comment “for some of us, it means working more than one job.” Instead of touting the work ethic of folks who need to work two jobs, how about putting effort into providing a living wage and decent working conditions for one job? (The above facts are taken from a July 8, 2021, article in Forbes magazine: What Does A Worker Want? What The Labor Shortage Really Tells Us) Additionally, about 4 million people said they were sitting out of the job market because of concerns about getting or spreading COVID-19, according to a Census survey from April 14 to April 26. Perhaps more effort should come from the Republican Party in encouraging Pa. citizens to get the vaccine.

Your comments “We need to be making choices as independent, free Americans;” If people want them (COVID vaccines), they have them. There are those that medically can’t take them. There are those who maybe for faith reasons or just on personal beliefs — and they don’t get flu vaccines either” feed into the anti-science bias of many of your constituents.

Your statement concerning the 2020 election controversies: “there was obviously lots of consternation with some people not feeling as though their vote counted” is blatant in its appeal to those who believe the Big Lie perpetrated by the former president. You are encouraging your constituents to believe that some Pa. votes in the presidential election were not counted. We know that this just is not true.

I ask, Rep. Benninghoff, that you refrain in your public comments from appealing to the unsupportable opinions and biases of some in your district.

Joan D. Loewen

Lewistown

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