There's an appalling op-ed in the Inquirer today from Robert W. Patterson, the ousted Corbett administration consigliere on anti-poverty programs with appalling ideas about poor people and women who also believes in the magical powers of -- using a word here that I generally try to keep out of Attytood -- semen. (Note: Not to be confused with magical underwear.) Patterson says the reason he lost his job isn't because of any of that but because of the "liberal media."
The big question is how Corbett, who rode to office on the promise of reform, responds to the pressure. Will he fight for his welfare secretary, the true best interests of the poor, and the taxpayers who elected him? Or will he buckle - as he did in my case - to the media, the professional bureaucrats, and special-interest groups who are blocking needed reforms? Pennsylvanians should demand that the governor stand up for pro-family and pro-taxpayer principles that offer genuine hope for the poor and greater prosperity for their commonwealth.
OK, Robert Patterson is certainly entitled to his say, but it's important to point out that what he's saying here is complete and utter baloney. The reality is that in 13 months in Harrisburg his ex-boss Gov. Corbett has done absolutely nothing to offer "genuine hope for the poor" but instead enacted harsh, punitive policies, often with little or no gain for taxpayers. For example...
Pennsylvania had an asset test as recently as 2008, then scrapped it. It was deemed unfair both to seniors who were saving for their burials, and to the newly unemployed who may have had modest bank accounts but were being ravaged by the recession.
Reinstating the asset test, DPW Secretary Gary Alexander said in a statement Wednesday, "is an important first step toward preserving limited taxpayer resources for the truly needy. The asset test ensures every public dollar we have goes directly to those who need it most."....
....Asset testing has been rejected by 70 percent of the states. Critics point out that it has been opposed both by Democrats, who say it hurts the poor, and by Republicans, who say it penalizes those who save. New Jersey and Delaware do not have asset testing.
Cuts in state aid to Pennsylvania public schools as a result of the budget passed late last month in Harrisburg hurt poorer districts much more than wealthier ones, says a longtime advocate for equity in funding.
Overall, the state sends more money to struggling districts than to prosperous ones, usually using spending formulas that give more to those with lower property values, higher poverty, and high taxes.
But Baruch Kintisch, a lawyer with the Education Law Center in Philadelphia and an expert on state spending patterns, said the Corbett administration and legislative leaders had largely abandoned those formulas in distributing this year's Basic Education funding, the largest state subsidy to school districts.
But wait, there's more. This is probably deserving of a separate post, but there's an excellent piece in today's New York Times about the mess in the Chester-Upland schools. The Corbett administration has aligned itself with forces who -- for a variety of reasons -- want to destroy public schools in America and replace them with for-profit education, religious schools and other non-public options. In Chester, the teachers' union that Corbett and his friends like Robert Patterson would love to destoy offered to teach kids without pay; but the for-profit company owned by a huge Republican donor that runs a charter school in Chester would not dream of surrending its $5,000-a--kid management fee:
The district argues that the charter is receiving millions of dollars in extra special education funds. And money to the charter also goes toward fees to the private management company of $5,000 per student. The charter says the district has not paid its bills since last April, leaving it no other choice than to go to court. The state was also named in the lawsuit because it has also fallen behind by millions of dollars in payments, the charter said.
While budget cuts forced the district to slash its staff by about 30 percent and cut art, music and language classes, the charter has made no such reductions, Judge James Gardner Colins of Commonwealth Court wrote in a decision on Tuesday that ruled against immediately satisfying the charter’s claims.
Judge Colins wrote that there was no evidence that the charter had been obliged to make any cuts or had tried to renegotiate its contract with the for-profit management company “to reduce its unusually large management fee.”
Anyway, I think you get the point. If the Corbett administration had done one single thing to "offer genuine hope for the poor," Patterson probably would have raced to mention that in his op-ed today. But he didn't because there's nothing to say. The entire shtick of the Corbett era in Harrisburg has been to blame poor people for the state's economic woes, and then carry out a series of heartless and often foolhardy cuts they think will prove their point. It's a little like what Mitt Romney said about the very poor last week, except that -- unlike Corbett and Robert Patterson -- Romney at least claimed he would try to repair any holes in the safety net that's ripped to shreds here in the Keystone State.
When your anti-poverty record looks bad in a comparison with Mitt Romney, you've got a big problem.