Corbett TV Ad Slammed For Misleading Voters on His Capability, Record

How can the Harrisburg Republican ‘shore up his credibility’ when he’s not up to the challenges facing PA?

PITTSBURGH: Harrisburg Republican Tom Corbett’s first television ad of the General Election is reinforcing what Pennsylvania voters are quickly learning: that the GOP nominee doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Here’s what independent observers are saying:

  • “Attorney General Tom Corbett, the Republican nominee, seems to contradict someone surprising – himself, twice – in his first commercial…. Corbett touts in his ad the pledge he signed to not raise state taxes….  But Corbett last week said that that pledge does not apply to state fees, contradicting what he told a Pittsburgh radio station in March, when he said that the pledge counted for all taxes and fees.” – Philadelphia Daily News [9/1/2010]
  • “[Corbett’s assertion about Onorato is] not true….  Corbett’s on-the-defensive TV spot about taxes comes just a week after Onorato blasted him for voting to raises Shaler Township property taxes by 20% back in 1988.” – WTAE-Pittsburgh [8/31/2010]
  • It’s “an effort by front-runner Corbett to shore up his credibility after Onorato pointed out that Corbett had made contradictory statements about the scope of his no-new-taxes pledge.” – The Associated Press [8/31/2010]
  • “The ad ignores two Senate Republicans who have also doubted if [Corbett’s budget] pledge can be kept: Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty, R-Montgomery.” – Capitolwire [8/31/2010]
  • “What the ad doesn’t mention is that Corbett’s no-tax pledge has also been derided by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware)….” [PoliticsPA, 8/31/2010]

“Pennsylvania is facing a budget crisis, a deep recession and a Harrisburg culture that looks out for the special interests at the expense of the taxpayers,” said Onorato Communications Director Brian Herman. “We need real leadership and cannot take a risk on a Harrisburg insider like Tom Corbett, who doesn’t have experience and doesn’t seem to understand what his policies are or why what he says about them matters.”

The latest criticism is nothing new for Corbett, whose loose grasp of the issues has allowed him to make a stunning array of contradictory policy statements throughout the campaign.

Corbett – who cast one budget vote in his life and used it to hike property taxes by 20 percent – has tried hard to attack Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato on taxes, even though Onorato has balanced six budgets in a row without ever raising property taxes.

But asked by reporters to name a single tax that Onorato favors besides a severance tax on gas drillers like other states have (and which Corbett opposes on behalf of his major campaign donors, although even the Senate Republicans have agreed to enact one this fall), Corbett “struggled….. ‘I have to go look at my notes,’ he said. ‘I don’t have my notes here in front of me.’” [PoliticsPA, 8/27/2010]

And it has now been 2 weeks since Corbett was asked to take a 1.9% cut in his own discretionary spending, along with other state agencies, to help balance the current year’s budget. But “I am not making any pledge” to take that cut, said the candidate who had no trouble taking a no-tax pledge when it was politically convenient to do so. [PoliticsPA, 8/27/2010]

Corbett told reporters in January that raising taxes should be “a last resort” but that “you can’t rule anything in or out.” [Capitolwire, 1/9/2010] The next month, Corbett signed a strict no-tax pledge, which he has bragged about ever since.

Then, in March, KDKA-TV political analyst Jon Delano asked Corbett if the pledge prohibited him from raising fees. Corbett answered: “That’s right.” [3/8/2010] But now Corbett is saying that fees are not covered by the pledge. He told reporters on Friday: “…if there’s a misunderstanding, we apologize for that.” [Capitol Ideas, 8/27/2010]

Corbett has even called for a long list of tax cuts, from business taxes to the inheritance tax, without specifying how he would pay for them when the state is facing a multi-billion-dollar deficit. “Asked how many hundreds of millions of dollars it would cost to make his proposed tax cuts, Corbett declined to answer,” according to Capitolwire. [8/30/2010]

Earlier in the campaign, Corbett said that he “agrees” that “Pennsylvania should not incur additional debt.” [Commonwealth Foundation questionnaire] But Corbett then said: “There are going to be places where we need to use debt to build things.” [Capitolwire, 7/9/2010]

Corbett once said he wouldn’t have accepted any of the stimulus money when he was courting conservatives in the primary, but later backed Pennsylvania’s application for $400 million in stimulus funds for the education competition “Race to the Top.”

Corbett has requested an increase in his office’s budget every year that he has served as Attorney General – despite calling for “across the board” spending cuts for everyone else. [Harrisburg Patriot-News, 6/11/2010]  He also says in a campaign policy paper that he will cut state administrative spending in all agencies by 10 percent if elected Governor. [Capitolwire, 3/22/2010] This year alone, Corbett requested a 12% spending hike – even as the state was facing a massive budget crisis.

It’s no wonder that experienced Republican leaders – like GOP Sens. Pileggi and Rafferty – are increasingly questioning Corbett’s budget promises. As Corbett ally Majority Leader Pileggi said: “I don’t see how he can do it, frankly.” [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 6/28/2010]

A life-long Pennsylvanian, Dan Onorato was raised in a working class neighborhood on Pittsburgh’s North Side. He graduated college from Penn State and received his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Onorato has served as Allegheny County Executive since 2004 and was unopposed for re-election in 2007.  Prior to being elected County Executive, Onorato served as Allegheny County Controller and a Pittsburgh City Councilman.  Dan and his wife Shelly reside in the Brighton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh with their three children.

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