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Politics & Government

Corbett & Sen. Dems in War Over His Words

A week has passed since Gov. Tom Corbett's ill-received comment tying Pennsylvania's  7.9 percent unemployment rate to job applicants unable to pass drug tests.  But Senate Democrats are revisiting earlier comments that they say are reflective of Corbett's policies.  The governor insists it’s much ado about words.

The Senate’s top Democrat says clumsy statements by the governor are significant not because they make easy hay for political opponents, but because of what they reveal about Corbett himself.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said he links the comments to policies the governor has enacted – like last year’s 10 percent cut to county-run human services programs, reinstating a means test for food stamp recipients, and enacting business tax cuts.  

"When you frame all of those things against what he’s given to the corporate community, that’s what’s offensive, and that’s what people see and that’s what people are not happy about," Costa said.

Governor Corbett says reporters are partly to blame if people take umbrage with his comments, which he says are being misconstrued by Democrats.

"I make statements that they take out of context and you guys don’t question them on it, when it’s out of context," Corbett said.

Corbett’s comments did generate several sensational headlines last week.  But Costa said his Democratic caucus is frustrated with the substance including the governor’s unwillingness to accept a Medicaid expansion.

Just last week, Corbett said he thinks the Affordable Care Act authorizing the expansion may have been designed to fail as part of a conspiracy to pave the way for a single-payer health system supported by Democrats.