Corbett gets creative on jobs, health care

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R)
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R)
Associated Press

If Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) is going to get a second term, he’ll have quite a bit of ground to make up. As we talked about yesterday, the latest statewide Quinnipiac poll found that half his constituents believe he deserves to lose next year, and in hypothetical match-ups against the leading Democratic candidates, Corbett is behind by margins ranging from 9 to 14 points.

So, the governor is going to start playing error-free ball, getting himself back on track? No, not just yet.

Igor Volsky noted this morning, for example, that since Corbett became governor, Pennsylvania’s record on jobs has deteriorated. Corbett has a variety of explanations for his poor record, including this one: “[T]here are many employers that say we’re looking for people but we can’t find anybody that has passed a drug test, a lot of them.”

This really doesn’t strike me as a winning campaign message: “Overlook my awful jobs record because too many of you are drug addicts.”

But wait, there’s more. When the governor isn’t saying odd things about jobs, he’s saying even stranger things about the Affordable Care Act (thanks to my colleague Laura Conaway for the tip).

The law requires employers with 50 or more workers to provide health coverage unless they opt out and pay a penalty of $2,000 for each employee in excess of 30. The penalties are used to provide subsidized coverage for uninsured individuals who will be required by law to carry health insurance starting next year.

“Business are telling me they aren’t growing. They don’t want to go over that critical number … so it’s discouraging employment,” Corbett said.

The law’s most cynical critics have said its liberal architects intended businesses to opt out because that would force people into insurance exchanges, essentially using a back door to create the kind of single-payer health care system that Democrats have been unable to get through Congress.

“I see the whole thing collapsing and, potentially, in the long run that may have been the plan,” Corbett told summit attendees Monday. “I’m a prosecutor. I believe in conspiracies.”

Well, clearly he believes in conspiracies, but this one doesn’t make sense.

As Corbett sees it, the federal health care law looks like it was designed to help employers offer health care coverage to their employees, but it was really an elaborate ruse – the Obama administration really wants the private sector to stop providing coverage and pay a penalty, so Democrats can rope those Americans into a socialized system.

That’s pretty silly. For one thing, if Democrats didn’t want to encourage businesses to cover their employees, policymakers wouldn’t have made it so easy for employers to do exactly that, complete with rewards for companies that do the right thing. For another, Americans who find themselves without employer coverage aren’t forced into single-payer; they’re given subsidies to pick from private insurance plans offered through an exchange.

Unless, of course, Corbett believes in an even grander conspiracy in which Obama wants to see the demise of Obamacare – the president only seems to support his own signature domestic policy accomplishment – so he can then use his fiendish ways to somehow get single-payer through a Congress that features a Republican-led House. Is that the new argument from the governor who believes “conspiracies”?

I’m beginning to see why Corbett – Mr. You Just Have To Close Your Eyes – is struggling in the polls.

Tom Corbett, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare and Pennsylvania

Corbett gets creative on jobs, health care