From the beginning of the campaign, one of Gov. Corbett’s main challenges has been to counter the perception, fair or not, that he was hard-hearted toward the poor and not sympathetic to average families struggling to make ends meet.
Only 32 percent of respondents in a recent Franklin & Marshall College Poll, for instance, agreed with the statement that Corbett “cares about people like you,” a standard feels-your-pain question in survey research. It is just one of the measures that add up to a pretty anemic percentage of voters supporting Corbett’s reelection.
But in recent days, the conservative Republican appears to have moved toward the center on a couple of issues that may help.
First, Corbett acted earlier this week to block up to $3 billion in cuts to food stamps over the next decade under changes contained in the latest federal farm bill, sparing about 400,000 households from a loss of $60-$65 monthly.
The administration said the governor acted because it was the right thing to do, not for political purposes.
Corbett also is reconsidering an asset test his administration imposed for recipients of the assistance.
The governor also has dropped his insistence on a work-search requirement for Medicaid eligibility in the Healthy Pennsylvania program he has proposed in lieu of expanding traditional Medicaid to more people. The plan is awaiting federal approval.
The food-stamp moves were widely praised by hunger activists and advocates for their poor, many of whom had been his most persistent critics.
For a good analysis, try this from the Allentown Morning Call’s Steve Esack.