Congress, Energy, Environment, U.S. President, US Supreme Court

Capito talks MVP, Bidenomics, student loan forgiveness with West Virginia reporters

MORGANTOWN – Sen. Shelley Moore Capito talked renewed Mountain Valley Pipeline delays, Bidenomics and more with members of the West Virginia press on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the U.S. 4th Circuit Appeals Court issued a stay on the MVP under the Endangered Species Act. The federal court also granted a stay of the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to allow the pipeline to be constructed through the Jefferson National Forest while the court considers The Wilderness Society’s challenge to that decision.

Capito noted that Congress passed and the president signed legislation that assured completion of the pipeline – a measure both she and Sen. Joe Manchin celebrated.

She also noted that the court is required to appoint three judges at random from among its 15 to preside over cases – but the same three judges have issued every ruling blocking MVP’s completion for years.

“I am astounded that this court would be such an activist court with such a political agenda,” she said. She called the court’s continual blocking of the MVP “judicial ping-pong” and said, “they’re obviously opposed to this and they’re working a political agenda.”

Endless delays led to the scrapping of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, but Capito said she thinks MVP’s investors will take heart from the support of Congress and the president in this case and not give up.

“This is a bump in the road,” she said, and she expects the case to go to the Supreme Court. “And I think it will be successful.”

Members of the green community had celebrated the court’s ruling. Appalachian Voices Virginia Policy Director Peter Anderson commented, “This stay is necessary to prevent the irreparable harm that would be caused by allowing Mountain Valley Pipeline to resume construction while important legal issues are decided. We are pleased that the 4th Circuit seems to recognize that Congress overreached with its Mountain Valley Pipeline provisions in the Fiscal Responsibility Act.”


President Biden himslef has loosely defined Bidenomics as “just another way of saying ‘restoring the American Dream.’ Forty years of trickle-down limited that dream to those at the top. But I believe that every American willing to work hard should be able to get a good job no matter where they live — in the heartland, in the small towns, in every part of this country — to raise their kids on a good paycheck and keep their roots where they grew up.

“That’s Bidenomics. It’s rooted in what always worked best for this country: investing in America. Because when you invest in our people, when you strengthen the middle class, we see stronger economic growth that benefits everybody.”

Biden says that “inflation has fallen for 12 months in a row to 3%, providing families with even more breathing room as costs for goods go down and wages increase.” The U.S. has attracted $497 billion in private investment in American manufacturing, both here and around the world. “It’s historic, and it’s Bidenomics in action.”

And, he said, “I cut the deficit $1.7 trillion in two years.”

Asked to define Bidenomics, Capito said, “You pay more and get less.” Inflation is down but still too high.

Since Biden took office, she noted in a separate release, inflation has increased 16.6%. Among other things, grocery prices have increased 20%; gasoline prices have increased 52%; rental prices for a primary residence have increased 15.6%; prices for used cars and trucks have increased 35% and prices for new vehicles have increased 20%. Airline fares have increased 39%. All those numbers are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

She said Thursday that polls show more than 70% of Americans are not optimistic about the direction of the country and a third say they are worse off than before he took office. “That is troubled winds in terms of how families are coping with day-to-day expenses. … These false messages are not really resonating with the American public.”

CNN has taken Biden to task for some of his claims. A recent piece noted: “The primary reason for the deficit falling by $1.7 trillion under Biden was that the deficit had skyrocketed to a record high of about $3.1 trillion in fiscal 2020 during the early stage of the pandemic under then-President Donald Trump. The increase happened largely because of temporary, bipartisan pandemic spending. After much of the temporary spending expired on schedule, the deficit plummeted to about $1.4 trillion in fiscal 2022 under Biden.

The piece continued, “Biden can reasonably take credit for stimulating the US economic recovery, which pushed the deficit downward by boosting tax revenues in fiscal 2021 and fiscal 2022. But Biden’s list of policy initiatives … have, on the whole, made deficits higher, not lower, even when you factor in the deficit-reducing impact of Biden’s signature Inflation Reduction Act.”

Right-leaning National Review typically disagrees with most of what Biden says and does, but noted in a recent piece, “The annual inflation rate when Biden took office was 1.4%. In May, it was 4%, or nearly three times the rate he inherited and still double the Federal Reserve’s 2% target rate.

“Under the Biden Harris administration inflation has risen,” the piece said. “Of course, what the Biden team is attempting to take credit for is the decline in the inflation rate from its 9.1% peak in June of 2022.”

Student loan forgiveness

The Dominion Post asked Capito her thoughts on the constitutionality of Biden’s new approach to forgiving student loan debt. His first go, using the Heroes Act, was stymied by several court cases and struck down by the Supreme Court in June.

Biden immediately announced he’ll make a second go using the Higher Education Act. He hasn’t announced the details but Slate summarized his authority under the act: The secretary of education may compromise, waive, or release any claim against student borrowers.

“By its plain terms,” Slate said, the HEA gives the secretary of education a potent tool to combat the student debt crisis. He may enter into a ‘settlement’ with ‘any’ borrower by ‘compromising’ some amount of their debt—perhaps all of it. There is no textual limitation on this authority, no obvious reason why he can’t relieve debt for an entire class of borrowers.”

The forgiveness plan is expected to cost more than $4 billion. And some believe the plan will prove equally unconstitutional, including Capito, who noted that spending authority isn’t granted to the executive branch – it originates in the House of Representatives. “I feel concerned for those student loan borrowers … who have been given false hope by this administration.”