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Sound bites echoed throughout Pittsburgh on Monday as the notorious former Democratic President Bill Clinton stumped for his party’s Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf. Clinton used the same message he has used in other states for other candidates, personalizing his speech to Wolf, and keeping in step with his folksy brand.
The well-known Clinton was used to try to influence voters into believing “trickle-down government” isn’t working—the use of tax breaks and other economic benefits to stimulate the economy—and that Democrats have the answers to creating, growing and sustaining middle-class jobs.
“[Wolf] is the best candidate for governor in the United States,” Clinton said. He said when he read about Wolf’s background, he thought Wolf was “too good to be true.”
He continued in this vein for a couple of minutes, spending less time disparaging Republican incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett, and more time promoting Wolf. It didn’t take long, though, for Clinton to say he supported the idea of creating a new severance tax on natural gas drilling. He criticized Corbett for lifting the cap on the oil company franchise tax in a transportation bill that passed in Fall 2013, adding that he thought taxing natural gas would create more revenue than lifting the cap.
What’s most abundantly clear regarding Wolf is that he says yes to more, and new, taxes. Natural gas drillers pay the same taxes as all Pennsylvania businesses pay, in addition to an impact fee. Wolf has consistently said he sees an opportunity to slap another tax on that industry.
Latest polling figures show Corbett tightening a once formidable gap held by Wolf for most of campaign season. Wolf, whose campaign is funded primarily by himself and public unions, not individuals, began to see a decline in his polling numbers following the first General Election debate, held in September. Up until that point, Wolf ran a hard-hitting media blitz.
After Wolf’s first uninspiring public debate performance, voters may have wondered what the state would look like if Wolf was given the ball, and goes nuclear on taxes. Grassroots talk is now a vote for Corbett is a vote against Wolf. Corbett has had to regain support from conservatives following the passage of last year’s transportation bill, and his inability to capitalize on passing liquor privatization, among other desired conservative issues that have not been passed.
During the third debate between Corbett and Wolf, held in Pittsburgh on Oct. 8, Wolf tried, again, to explain his plan to relieve tax burdens on the middle class. He pushed his plan to change Pennsylvania’s income tax structure from it’s current flat 3.07 percent rate onto the shoulder’s of wealthier Pennsylvanians, much of the same idea that President Barack Obama touted when he campaigned for President. Wolf proclaims that his plan would work, meaning income taxes go up in certain tax brackets and property taxes go down for all.
But, not so fast. Even fact checkers bury their consternation of Wolf’s lack of details in his plan.
“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% of Americans considered themselves to be “upper class” and only 10% identified themselves as “lower class.” The rest described themselves as “middle class” (42%), “upper middle class” (13%) or “working class” (31%).”
Pennsylvania GOP released this statement regarding Wolf’s third attempt to stargaze his base, and lure voters to his side. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama have already hit the Keystone State in recent days.
“Today, Tom Wolf will try to use President Bill Clinton to misdirect attention away from his full support of President Barack Obama’s agenda, including the War on Coal,” Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason said. According to the PA GOP, Wolf is mirroring Obama’s liberal ideology over jobs, suggesting a cap-and-trade agenda, which will put tens of thousands of coal jobs at risk.
“A vote for Tom Wolf is a vote to raise your own taxes,” State Senator Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) said. “Tom Wolf wants to raise the income tax rate on Pennsylvania families by 188%. Throughout the course of this campaign, Tom Wolf has been more focused on expanding the size of our government than providing detailed solutions to Pennsylvania’s toughest challenges. We simply cannot afford four years of Tom Wolf’s proposed tax hikes.”
Photo by PCN
Tags: Bill Clinton, Gov. Tom Corbett, Hillary Clinton, income tax, Michelle Obama, natural gas, President Barack Obama, property taxes, severance tax, taxes, Tom Wolf
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