Gov. Tom Corbett Risks 4th Degree Burns by Refusing to Remove His Pants, Which Happen to be on Fire.

Any other cycle, the current race for Governor in my home state of Pennsylvania would be, for all intents and purposes, over.  The esteemed Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, has been laughably bad during his term in office.  He has drastically cut education.  He imitated several other GOP governors by refusing to allowing PA to take part in the Medicaid expansion, but made the issue his own by essentially calling children, pregnant women, and breast cancer patients who receive Medicaid moochers.  He’s a Republican, so of course he attacked abortion access.  He resisted the crowd on a different issue, resisting charging natural gas companies any extraction taxes, instead going with an “impact fee” that makes PA the most industry friendly state when it comes to fracking.  (Corbett’s stated reasoning, that a fee means that all wells have to pay something, while an extraction tax only collects from wells that are actually producing, may make sense at times.  When it doesn’t make sense is when the region is experiencing a fracking driven boom, with companies extracting huge amounts of natural gas while making huge profits and doing unknown amounts of harm to the environment.)  While standing strong against raising taxes on the rich and corporations, he signed a transportation bill that is sending the gas tax skyward, which of course affects the middle and lower classes far more than the rich.  (Note: I know the Democratic candidate for Lt. Gov also supported this transportation bill.  I am not saying that gas taxes are an unacceptable way of generating tax revenue.  My issue and point is Corbett’s support of the bill in context with his other actions. It makes a difference.)  Now while the preceding points can all be argued as partisan critiques, the rest of what makes Tom Corbett possibly the worst Governor in America not names Brownbeck are not.  They are matters of fact.  Of failure filled fact.  Of horrible, horrible failure.  He failed at privatizing the state run liquor stores.  (For those of you not from PA who are now thinking “WTF?,” Pennsylvania owns and operates all liquor stores in the state.  Yep, a state run monopoly for drug dealing.)  He failed at fixing the state pension crisis.  And perhaps most embarrassingly, his signature policy, an attempt to privatize the state lottery by outsourcing it to a foreign company, went down in a flaming ball of failure.  Actually, the only good thing I can say about Tom Corbett is that he is not Sam Brownbeck.

So why isn’t it over?  Why do I have a nagging worry about this one?

Because it is a midterm election with a sitting Democratic President.  Midterms are always a bit iffy for the left, as Democratic turn out is notoriously horrible in non-Presidential election years.  Historically, midterms also favor the opposition party, which is another plus in the GOP’s column.  While nothing is certain til the votes are counted, especially with voter suppression tactics in full force, it is increasingly appearing that the GOP will take control of the Senate by a small margin.  (The House is a lost cause for Dems until the next census and redistricting.  Yeah, the GOP gerrymandered itself one chamber of Congress for a decade.)  While there are quite a few races that are nail-bitingly close this close to E-day, the political climate and fear-mongering over ISIS and Ebola could keep some GOP incumbents is offices they no longer deserve.  Hell, look at Kansas.  The Governor’s race there is effectively tied, and chances are decent that Sam Brownbeck will be rewarded for turning his state into a science fair project examining the damage unrestricted “Voodoo economics” can do to all sections of a state with another term in office for him to insist you just need to give it more time.

So yeah, even though Democratic challenger Tom Wolf is maintaining a significant lead in the polls, breaking the 50% barrier in several, you must forgive me if I worry until the final nail is driven in the coffin of Corbett’s term as Governor.

Still, even as a constantly concerned pessimist, I have to admit the ads coming out of Corbett’s campaign are starting to smell of desperation.  Shall we pay a visit to factcheck.org?

We’ve noticed that the most deceitful attack ads often come from candidates who are most desperate. For example, consider the claim by Pennsylvania’s unpopular Republican Gov. Tom Corbett that his opponent “is promising to raise middle-class taxes,” when in fact Democratic nominee Tom Wolf promises to cut them.

FactCheck then airs the amusingly (if not intended to deceive Pennsylvanian voters) factually challenged ads.  I’ll pass, but feel free to visit them and watch away.  I’ll wait.

….

it is Corbett who’s being dishonest here. He knows exactly what Wolf is proposing, because he was standing only a few feet away from him during an Oct. 8 debate in which Wolf sketched out his plan.

Wolf said (starting at about 23 minutes into the recording): “If you are in the seventy to ninety thousand dollar range as an individual — and you can double that if you are married — you should not pay any more in taxes. And people making below that will get a break. That’s my goal.”

And that is consistent with what Wolf has been saying as far back as February, when he released a “Fresh Start” campaign white paper that included a promise of a “progressive income tax” that “will result in every middle-class family receiving a tax cut.” But the initial plan didn’t define “middle class” or give an income level.

In later interviews, including a July 25 session with Associated Press reporters and editors, Wolf specified that the “middle-class” cutoff would come somewhere between $70,000 and $90,000 in annual income. Later, his campaign said that would be just for single taxpayers, and the income level would be double that for married couples filing jointly. In the Oct. 8 debate, Wolf confirmed the $140,000-$180,000 range as the likely cutoff for couples.

By way of background, Pennsylvania currently imposes a flat 3.07 percent income tax on all taxable income, allowing for a hodgepodge of deductions but with no standard exemption or exclusion. Wolf says he would institute a universal exclusion, exempting all income below a certain level from any income tax. And he would increase the percentage tax rate on income above that level.

So sure, Wolf is going to raise taxes on the middle class.  As long as those members of the middle class are earning more than 90k or so as an individual, or 180k or so as a couple.  Now I understand that you can never have enough money, and I get it that those income figures don’t make someone wealthy, but you know, I know, and my dog knows what Corbett is implying when he says “middle class tax increase.”

Even if Wolf provides a tax break only to those at the lower end of the income ranges he has mentioned, many more people would see an income tax cut than would see an increase. We know this because the most recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show that two-thirds of all households in Pennsylvania reported income of less than $75,000 last year, and all of those would see income taxes reduced or eliminated if Wolf sets his cut-off at that level, which is on the low side of the $70,000-$90,000 range for individuals.

Even fewer taxpayers would see an increase if Wolf eventually were to set the cut-off at closer to $90,000.

Looking only at married-couple families in Pennsylvania, Census reports that 16.5 percent had income of $150,000 or more, which is also at the lower end of Wolf’s $140,000 to $180,000 range for couples filing jointly. And yet, Corbett’s ads keep calling the Wolf proposal a tax increase on middle-class taxpayers, rather than the tax cut he promises for most.

We freely concede that some Pennsylvanians who think of themselves as “middle class” have incomes higher than the levels described by Wolf, and they would see their taxes go up. A USA Today/Gallup Poll found in 2012 that only 2 percent of Americans considered themselves to be “upper class” and only 10 percent identified themselves as “lower class.” The rest described themselves as “middle class” (42 percent), “upper middle class” (13 percent) or “working class” (31 percent).

Both candidates are exploiting the tendency of egalitarian Americans to think of themselves as in the “middle” no matter how high or low their actual incomes. So Wolf’s promise of an income tax cut for “every” middle-class family is true only for those who accept his particular income definition of “middle class.” But Corbett’s ads strive to give the impression that Wolf is proposing an income tax increase for everybody who considers himself “middle class.” And that’s not the case.

Keep fucking that chicken, Tom.  I’ll be calling ya on every thrust til E-Day.

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3 thoughts on “Gov. Tom Corbett Risks 4th Degree Burns by Refusing to Remove His Pants, Which Happen to be on Fire.

  1. Not to split hairs, but as much as Tom Corbett tends to put his foot in his mouth repeatedly and in rather outlandish ways… I don’t know that he ever called Medicaid cancer patients “moochers” specifically. (Though I don’t think it would be surprising had he done so at some point somewhere.)

    What he did say implied he believes they (including people who worked all their lives & paid taxes & then got cancer & receive Medicaid), are receiving too much care or too many services without paying enough for them.

    The actual quote:

    “you just can’t keep going and going and going and think everything is going to be covered”

    And I’d argue that’s even worse than if he just called people names.

    He said they “can’t keep going”… to the doctor, hospitals, whatever.
    If they can’t afford to pay fees for it. Immediately.
    That translates directly into him wanting people who may have worked their whole lives, or not even started their lives, to stop getting the medical care they need to continue working, or even continue staying alive.
    Maybe included in that “everything” he doesn’t think should be covered include prenatal care, pediatric cancer surgery, or end of life care?
    One can’t be sure, but it certainly sounds sinister.

    I think accusing him of inaccurate gratuitous name-calling is actually letting him off easy.

    And of course it’s inaccurate, because it’s not completely free for Medicaid recipients.
    Of course everyone, on Medicaid or not, pays & has paid taxes one way or another. Even children & elderly.

    His quote could also be interpreted another chilling way.

    That he doesn’t want the services not to be covered, but he also doesn’t want people to “think” (ie: be aware) that they will be covered.
    That he thinks these rights should be rather hidden or obscured somehow?

    Which is not so far-fetched, since it’s well-known that many citizens are unaware or misinformed about various laws & codes which are beneficial to them.
    This is shown by the number of people who DO qualify for things like Medicaid, food stamps, or even unemployment benefits, but don’t apply because they have no clue they might be eligible.
    Also by the fact that most residents of PA who are threatened with wage garnishment for credit card debt are frightened by that threat, and fail to report that threat as the unlawful act that it is.

    It’s very convenient for certain interests to be able to say people have rights, but then have those rights so obscured from those who could exercise them.

    One could say I’m stretching it to even suggest that’s what Tom Corbett revealed in his statement that people shouldn’t “think” everything will be covered.
    But it wouldn’t be the first time that a PA politician seemingly let slip their true beliefs. Think Mike Turzai.

    • Point taken. The gratuitous name calling was a throwaway line directly taken from a partisan site. That being said, the full quote is a bit more than just the line you posted, so…

      “What I hear all the time coming out of the administration in Washington is that it’s the working poor [who benefit from Medicaid],” Corbett told WTAE, a Pennsylvania local ABC affiliate, on Saturday. “Yes it is working, but you should be investing five, ten dollars in co-pay to understand that you go to to the hospital or the doctors, you just can’t keep going and going and going and think everything is going to be covered. You have to know that you have some interest in what’s going on.

      The state’s Department of Public Welfare website addresses copayment information, saying that while children, pregnant women, and breast cancer patients don’t pay the fees, many beneficiaries do contribute for the services they receive. Corbett seems to be suggesting that the exempt enrollees are abusing the free services and that everyone should pay more for health care. – The Jane Dough, 7/10/13

      So while I was just lazily adopting the term “moocher” from the Daily Kos, which probably isn’t how I would have described his statement if I was treating it as anything other than another bullet point against him, there is a case to be made that he did exactly that. Not a case I would personally make, but….

      So yeah, I will be a bit more careful carrying over insults directly from obviously partisan sources. Corbett’s comment is horrible without the debatable name calling, and giving him the wiggle room to obfuscate the issue is not my goal. Thanks for the feedback!

      • Oh, good addition, the remark about it possibly suggesting “that everyone should pay more for health care”.

        Even more problematic possible interpretation.

        And we (Americans) should actually be discussing why we pay more than twice as much per person for our health care as the average for other wealthy nations.

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