5 Reasons to Vote (No Really!) For Tom Corbett

He’s not the worst Republicans have to offer.

Barring some disastrous circumstances, I can’t really see myself voting for Tom Corbett’s re-election in November.

Then again, you probably can’t either.  Polls consistently show the Republican governor down about 20 points or more to Tom Wolf, his Democratic challenger, and while there’s plenty of time to narrow the gap, it’s hard to imagine that Corbett has any news up his sleeve that will suddenly make him attractive to an electorate that’s found him so unattractive for so long.




Understanding Corbett’s predicament is easy: He didn’t prioritize education the way he should’ve — in Philly, he seemed more interested in breaking the teachers union than in educating kids.The state economy is anemic, even by the anemic standards of post-recession America. His fracking policy seems designed to serve energy companies instead of the people of his state. It’s not a great record.

And then there’s this:

Still, it’s easy to imagine scenarios under which the last four years could’ve been worse. My home state of Kansas, for example, has been getting an example of what happens when the GOP id is unleashed — and it’s left almost nobody happy.

So in the interest of fairness — and just to see if I could — I've scrounged up five reasons Tom Corbett might deserve re-election. Maybe.

PENSIONS: Now, Corbett’s insistence on slashing public sector pensions is probably just another way of trying to, you know, slash public sector unions, which tend to offer political muscle to Democrats. Still, there’s plenty of evidence that those pensions are as unsustainable as he says. If we want a state government capable of acting in the public interest, we’re going to have to get that situation resolved. On this issue, at least, Corbett has been on the side of angels.

• THE TRANSPORTATION BILL: A state’s economy is sometimes only as strong as its ability to get goods to market and employees to work. But Corbett’s signature on last year’s transportation bill — which funds SEPTA, and spends billions on rebuilding roads and bridges across the state — wasn’t a given. He’s taken a hard hit inside the Republican Party, in fact, because the bill raises gasoline taxes. Which is too bad, because the bill was a good thing for Pennsylvania. Sometimes you have to spend money to fulfill the state’s duties properly.

• HE DOESN’T STAY COMMITTED TO LOST CAUSES: We are, admittedly, getting into “backhanded compliment” territory here. But in an era of remarkable political polarization, Corbett has proven he knows when it’s time to walk away from a fight. He shouldn’t have supported Voter ID or resisted gay marriage — but when judges ruled against the state’s stance on each issue, Corbett chose not to appeal, saving the state a ton in legal bills, and sparing us unending debate when pretty much everybody was ready to move on.

HE’S NOT DARYL METCALFE. Quick: Name one other Republican in Harrisburg. If you can, it’s probably Metcalfe, the GOP’s designated Smug White Christian Warrior. Whatever his faults, Corbett didn’t seem like he was trying to exploit the divisions among Pennsylvanians for mean-spirited fun and profit.

• WHEN HE GOES, THE HOUSE GOP WILL SHARPEN ITS KNIVES FOR THE DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR: This comes from my colleague Patrick Kerkstra, who points out the D.C. Republicans have set the blueprint for dealing with a Democratic chief executive: Obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. Tom Wolf’s a nice guy, and he seems to have a lot of the right priorities, but even he will need to get bills passed. The House GOP — filled with characters like Metcalfe — is already oppositional in nature: If Corbett loses, it will actually get to be the opposition. It’s not going to be fun.

So there you are. Five reasons to vote for Tom Corbett, and three of them amount to: “He’s not the worst Republican in Pennsylvania.” When you’re down 20 points in the polls, that is sometimes the best anybody can say.

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  • Dan

    Wow Phillymag a hit piece on Corbett first thing in the morning! You even throw in generalization of all Republicans and an antiChristrian dig as well. I also love the part about lost causes-wasn’t it the liberals in this country who kept fighting in favor of gay marriage even though over 70% of Americans opposed it? Corbett doesn’t know lost causes as he still funds the democratic corruption machine in Philadelphia. And the liberals writing for Phillymag haven’t had enough of the democrats destroying their city. Corbett is the better choice in this election Wolf is a joke.

    Corbett 2014..

    • DTurner

      Where’d you get that 70% number from? Also, how is this anti-Christian? I’m pretty sure views of gay marriage are pretty mixed in the Christian community. Also, classy move liking your own post!

      • Dan

        I was making a generalization of past years I.e. California’s original traditional marriage vote was 60 plus percent of voters yes. I was making a point times change and nothing should be looked at as a lost cause. I wasn’t making a judgement on all Christian views on marriage. I do find the “smug white Christian warrior” to be racially offensive and offensive to Christians.

        • DTurner

          That’s fair on the smug white Christian warrior aspect.

          I don’t know if I would necessarily point to the CA vote as a barometer for public sentiments though, especially since A)The Mormons really got out the vote for that proposition & B)Most polls now suggest that the preferences have since flipped.

        • Alex

          Fair enough if you did a poll a decade ago, but the issue is marriage itself, no I mean allowing the “Government to decide whether or not your married and whether the taxes,consequences, benefits,etc are given”.

          Unmarried couples should not face discrimination compared to married couples, we should do away with marriage, an easy start would be to phase out many different laws and benefits, we could still have legal marriage for a while but allow other options.

          Similarly of course married couples should not face discrimination on taxation for instance.

          I don’t get why we have taxpayer filing married,single,separate,head of household, “singles not apply”, “married but separate not apply and pay extra”, “okay if you have a child with a woman, tax break”.

          It’s not just taxes social security for instance will tax you if your married but separate more than if you are single and have other income.

          I don’t see how one can defend such a system.

    • Joel Mathis

      It’s not anti-Christian to call Metcalfe a Smug White Christian Warrior. It’s anti-Metcalfe.

      Anyhoo: This really wasn’t a hit piece on the governor. I really *was* trying to come up with 5 reasons Corbett deserved re-election. They’re not yours, but they were the best I could come up with.

      • Dan

        Yes you are. There’s no reason to invoke someone else’s race like that. If you invoked someone’s race like “radical black Muslim” you’d be fired. Show other faiths and races the same respect. Your line is bigoted and there’s no place for it. If it’s anti Metcalfe don’t invoke his race.

        • Joel Mathis

          If Metcalfe’s religion were incidental, I wouldn’t mention it. He brandishes it as a weapon in his politics — remember he silenced Brian Sims on the House floor because he didn’t want somebody speaking against God’s plan — so it’s fair to mention. When he stops using it politically, I will stop mentioning it. Until then, I am merely describing. That’s not bigotry. That’s observation.

          • Dan

            Your observation included invoking his race. Why do that besides to invoke a negative stereotype? it’s racist.

          • Joel Mathis

            I think Mr. Metcalfe designs his positions — such as Voter ID, English-only — to benefit one race more than others, or to burden some races more than others. I don’t think that’s incidental. Mr. Metcalfe plays the race game, subtly, and it’s not racist to point that out. You’re welcome to keep trying, but I stand by the characterization.

          • Dan

            You said “white Christian warrior” invoking a negative stereotype. Anyone who has had a conversation with anyone in this city knows this is liberal cat calling, preaching to their choir of negative stereotypes of whites. It’s unequivocally racist and anti Christian. And what is racist about English only or voter ID? Explain. I went to Temple and the homeless people there bought us beer at the time because they had photo ID! Do you think minorities are dumber than whites so they cannot produce an ID? And the majority of people posting and reading have agreed with my interpretation your line is offensive.

        • Alex

          In partial agreement with you, why do we have BET and latina magazines and channels but not “white” channels and magazines, of course being white if not monolithic but you wouldn’t read about it and especially have an advocate for it.

      • CJ

        Mentioning his religion? That is unneccessary, and thereby Anti-Christian. Would you call him a ‘Smug White Jew Warrior’? or ‘Smug White Muslim Warrior’ maybe ‘Smug White Athiest Warrior’. Hypocritical.

        • CJ

          ‘unnecessary’ – spelling

      • Mike

        It’s a dig at Christians and uncalled for….. I love how intolerant the “tolerance” crowd has become. They’ll rip apart Christians, Israel and anyone that stands for freedom. Your bias is showing and people see right through. Saul Alinsky tactics of isolate and slander no longer works.

        Now man up, calling some one smug white Christian is an obvious attack on a group of people. Be man enough to admit it or are you a hater of white Christians?

    • Mike

      Btw to all PA gun owners, Wolfe is super anti gun. Look at his answers on ceasefire PA site. He IS FOR GUN CONFISCATION!!!!!!! Wow, hitler, Stalin and Mao were as well…..how did that end for innocent people and freedom?

      • Alex

        More propaganda, you either have a government you trust or don’t, for all the talk about gun rights, what about civil liberties, which the GOP ignores except for a few.

        We of course had never had a situation where the government attacks citizens, but the deck is already stacked against us, and our criminal justice system means trivial crimes can get you sentenced for decades compared to serious crimes.

        Besides, can you name a governor that really took away lots of folks guns or is it just fear mongering?

  • not dan

    The pension issue is a nonstarter. Corbett’s proposal would create a hybrid system for new employees entering the pension system, but the state is constitutionally barred from altering the benefits from any current participants- that’s about 800,000 or so participants between SERS and PSERS. The state will save exactly zero dollars on the pension benefits for these employees. What it WILL do immediately is making recruiting public employees more difficult, since lower entry level pay is generally offset by future pension benefits. On top of that, the state already passed a measure to address the pension crisis in 2010, lowering the pension benefits of new employees into the system. for the reasons above it takes time for these benefits to become apparent- anyone already in the system before 2010 is immune from the legislation. Finally, the only reason we have a pension crisis in the first place is because state legislators intentionally did not fund their part of PA state pensions when the economy was good, counting on overperforming investments to make up the difference, then capped their contributions to underfund it in perpetuity. For several years the state contributed exactly zero dollars toward employee pensions, and this bit the state in the ass when the market tanked. – State employees did not have this luxury and still contributed in full. Corbett wants to eliminate the system to fix a problem the republican legislature largely caused in the first place.

    • Dan

      A guranteed 50k for life? I’d sign up. Current pensioners will either accept changes to their benefits now or in bankruptcy court like Detroit pensioners get 23% of promised benefits. We don’t have the money.

      • not dan

        Dan, the state constitution bars any changes to current pensions. Without a constitutional amendment, you can’t do it- and there’s not enough support for that. Whether current pensioners “accept” that or not is irrelevant. Second, unlike detroit (or any other cities) states legally cannot declare bankruptcy. The provision to do so does not exist- otherwise the federal government could simply force states into bankruptcy to get what it wants when throwing a tantrum. States are sovereign for a reason. Third, the average pension benefit is about half of that 50K figure you cited.

        • Dan

          50k is the proposed cap for new workers it is the change you said would make it tougher to recruit new people. I would take guranteed 50k. And the average pension benefit may be that but people with the state longer will get more. As for the changes yes the Constitution says that but if we don’t have the money how will they pay? This scenario is playing out across the country and people and businesses are leaving places that are raising taxes to pay for pensions like Illinois.

          • not dan

            I’m sure you would take 50K in pension benefit, but (at least for SERS) that’s out of reach for all but upper level management. Currently to hit that level you need to be earning 80K in final salary along with 30 years within the system (some exceptions for law enforcement aside). If you’re that high up you’re going to be making a lot more in the private sector- 50K a year in retirement after three decades barely keeps up with what the private sector offers to senior management. Cut that and you’re going to see your agencies get a lot less competent, really fast. PSERS is different since those are all educators, but at this point the state has cut education about as far as it can go. As for the money, the state doesn’t run deficits, but has somehow managed to fund state pensions every year for longer than any of us have been alive. It’s a matter of priorities. Note that corbett has no problem railing against pensions as a crisis, but has raised the corrections budget again this year.

          • Alex

            Well it’s more complicated than that.

      • Alex

        If republicans accepted federalism, they wouldn’t want activist judges interfering with contractual guarantees in the michigan constitution .

        It is also fraud, if you promise me after working 20-30 years a pension, and don’t deliver, it’s kinda of like working for a year without getting paid, or having a roofer do your roof and saying “Oh I’ll pay you 50% less for your roofwork because I really didn’t have the money”.

        Having said that a system that just has the legislature increase pensions and having generations of taxpayers paying for it is not wise.
        Instead maybe we should ballot choices, a insured system of some sort combined with a defined contribution system, although the latter is often really a benefit cut.

  • Bill Adams

    Another reason to be pro-Corbett: He is pro-life. Many conclude that we cannot vote for pro-abortionists and get to Heaven. Simply can’t be done. And, we can’t decide not to vote when there is a Pro-life person running without ending up in the same terminal. Unfortunately, he is not standing up for taxpayers and saying “Global Warming is crap!”, as Australia’s Prime Minister did when defeating a Babylonian, enlightened, Wolf-type opponent. But, he is Pro-life.

    • Rumplestilskin

      I am SO tired of listening to Right Wing Christians trying to shove their views down everyone else’s throat. We live in a SECULAR society with many religions permitted, but by the US Constitution no one religion may be promoted by the US or the states…..So stop claiming that Christian ideology should take precedence over the beliefs of others in Public Policy….it simply should not and must not.

      • lumberjack

        blah, blah, blah, blah, blah

      • Mike

        But you support sharia Muslim law? I guess we need to get rid of those crazy Christian ideologies like….shall not kill, love one another, help the poor, shall not steal, freedom of speech, right to keep government out of religion, right to self defense, per suit of liberty and happiness, etc…..you mean those Christian principles?

        • Alex

          The GOP loves to tout christian principals but they don’t practice what they preach.

        • Hal Emrich

          Listen AHOLE, I made NO REFERENCE IN SUPPORT OF ANY RELIGIOUS LAW. Not Sharia Law, Not Talmudic Law, Not Hindu Law, Not Buddhist Law. WE ARE A SECULAR SOCIETY, which means we operate under CIVIL LAW.
          The Constitution SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITS the establishment of religion by the government. BTW the fact that you can’t correctly spell PURSUIT OF LIBERTY says a lot

    • Alex

      Republicans are “pro-life” until birth, isn’t it ironic how republicans rally against immigration and taxes, but who will pick up the tab for a child who is born, or even a burden to society?

      Also, they do not want to prosecute the woman for doing an abortion,and we live in a secular society, I don’t tell you what religion to follow, so politicians don’t do the same.

      If I voted for politicians who told you what to do, it would be just like the islamic system, no alcohol or else you will go to hell so let’s ban it for everyone, pork also, meat also, caffeine also, you will go to hell for wearing shorts, so let’s vote for politicians to ban it, you can’t have it both ways.

      • Dan

        Pro life does not mean pro socialism. Get over it. Democrats only care about women until they are old enough to vote. Otherwise, they don’t care if women at their most vulnerable time, in the womb, are murdered or not.

  • Joe

    Another reason, He hasn’t taken Federal Drug War money. Which disproportionately jails the poor and minorities.

    • Alex

      Ya but the PA GOP loves the adam walsh act and other silly legislation, in fact complying would cost the state more than they would get funding for.

      Of course violent criminals and arsonists as well as the guy who attempted to cut off someone’s hand in a mosque need not apply because the legislature does not deemed them a “threat to society”, in addition to gang leaders,terrorists,etc.

      Brilliant ploy.

  • Joe

    Another reason, he isn’t allowing Obama’s refugees into PA. This will be Wolf’s first order of business. Which will drain our already stressed system.

    • Alex

      Then why add stress to the system by giving energy company tax breaks.

    • Joel Mathis

      Pretty sure the state government has little to no control over that. The governor has registered his objections, but that doesn’t mean they’re being heard.