NH Senate candidates railed against public spending while touting publicly funded projects

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Both Chuck Morse and Kevin Smith have attacked Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) for her role in obtaining relief funds they helped spend.

Two Republican Senate candidates in New Hampshire have loudly complained about "reckless" public spending under President Joe Biden. But they didn't complain about using millions in federal dollars to fund state and local projects.

Both state Senate President Chuck Morse and former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith have repeatedly attacked Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) for supporting Biden's economic agenda.

"Maggie Hassan has repeatedly supported the Biden agenda that has led to this inflationary crisis, from the spending sprees Maggie voted for to the supply chain crisis she has done nothing to fix," Smith tweeted on Feb. 10. "We need to get inflation under control. Maggie Hasn't – I will."

"Inflation skyrocketed to a new record today. Biden and Hassan's out of control printing of money is directly responsible. They are refusing to change course, and you are paying the price. We need to rein in spending NOW to get inflation under control," Smith tweeted on April 12.

Morse used similar attacks.

"Reckless, out of control, new Government spending has caused historic 40 year high inflation," he charged in a March 1 tweet. "Yet Biden and Hassan still push for new spending. We're heading towards an unsustainable National debt, affecting ourselves and our families."

"I have said time and time again that inflation is the biggest tax on hardworking Granite State families - Maggie Hassan has increased inflation with her votes for record spending packages that lack any fiscal management," Morse tweeted on April 12.

"Maggie Hassan is a puppet to Biden & Schumer," Morse tweeted on Sunday. "They have set all of our progress in New Hampshire back. Reckless spending, open borders, historic inflation, the list goes on."

At an Aug. 17 candidate forum, both Republican candidates criticized the COVID-19 pandemic relief funds that Congress enacted.

"Let me be clear. Washington needs to stop the spending," Morse said.

"There should be no more COVID relief funds. There should be no more COVID programs or spending on these programs. This is, again, a big part of what has led to the inflation that Maggie Hassan voted for," Smith added.

He also claimed that "as town manager, we sent back a lot of the COVID relief funds that we frankly had no use for back to the state of New Hampshire" and that "there was too much spending."

But Morse and Smith were more than happy to use millions of dollars in state and local funding from Biden's 2021 American Rescue Plan.

At a May 2021 appearance with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Smith reportedly said Londonderry would use a significant portion of its funding on hazardous chemical mitigation.

According to an August 2021 NH Business Review report, he said he planned to use roughly $2.7 million from the rescue funds for a variety of important Londonderry town expenses.

"The town staff will figure out our greatest needs and make a recommendation to the town council," Smith told the outlet. "It will be a very transparent and collaborative process. But we're not going to rush into anything."

His campaign website also touts his work overseeing the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, which benefited from an $8.7 million American Rescue Plan grant.

In the state Senate, Morse helped to distribute the state's share of the American Rescue Plan money.

Minutes indicate that he voted in favor of accepting about $100 million for affordable housing and $100 million for the state's Department of Environmental Services.

Morse also joined with Republican Gov. Chris Sununu in June to propose a $100 million plan to help residential electricity ratepayers — a program made possible in part thanks to the American Rescue Plan money.

Asked about the relief funds, Smith spokesperson Seb Rougemont wrote in an emailed statement, "You are not a real reporter and this socialist rag is not a real news outlet."

A spokesperson for Morse did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Contrary to what Smith and Morse have claimed, experts disagree that Biden's relief spending was the major driver of recent inflation.

Jason Furman, an economist at Harvard University and the former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, estimated to Factcheck.org in June that only about 1% to 4% of the inflation resulted from the legislation. 

Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi told the site that the plan's impact "has largely faded" already.

Morse and Smith are two of many Republicans running in the Sept. 13 Senate primary ahead of the November general election. Polling suggests former Army Brigadier Gen. Don Bolduc is the current front-runner.

The winner will face Hassan, who is seeking a second term.

Hassan voted for the rescue plan in March 2021, noting that it would mean about $1.5 billion in state and local funding for New Hampshire.

"The American Rescue Plan will help us get more vaccines in arms, get our children back in schools, put people back to work, and help families and small businesses pay their bills," she said in a press release. "I will work with the Biden administration to get this relief to the American people without delay."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.