Will Corbett's broken promise on taxes cost him in November?

Is Gov. Corbett (left) going down the path of George H.W. Bush (right) on tax pledge? The move made Bill Clinton a winner.
Is Gov. Corbett (left) going down the path of George H.W. Bush (right) on tax pledge? The move made Bill Clinton a winner.
Posted: April 04, 2014

G OV. CORBETT found himself this week in a political pincer movement, with foes on his left and right railing about increased gasoline taxes and motorist fees.

The ruckus reminded Grover Norquist of the presidential election 22 years ago, when Bill Clinton used then-President George H.W. Bush's violation of a "no new taxes" pledge to unseat him.

Bush signed the "taxpayer-protection pledge" from Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. So did Corbett, back in 2010 when he was first running for governor.

Corbett last year pushed for and then signed into law a transportation bill that will raise $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion per year for road and bridge repairs and mass transit.

Corbett's campaign commercials now say he kept his promise not to raise taxes. His campaign spokesman, Chris Pack, insists that the legislation merely "removed an artificial cap on the liquid-fuel tax that oil companies pay."

Norquist isn't buying that.

"Removing a cap is an effort to raise taxes," he said yesterday. "It's a tax increase."

Need proof? Norquist points to all that new money being raised for transportation projects.

As an example, Corbett's office yesterday announced six "key projects that are starting this year because of the transportation plan," including repairs to the Spring Garden Street bridge over the Schuylkill.

"How is he going to raise that money if it's not a tax increase?" Norquist asked.

Another question: Does this harm Corbett's re-election bid?

Norquist predicts that disappointed Republicans will stick with Corbett because they will suspect a Democratic nominee of pushing even more tax increases.

What about independents?

That's another story, according to Norquist, who says they may lean Republican but not if a candidate has broken a tax pledge.

Independents amount to about 13 percent of the state's registered voters, while Democrats have an edge of 50 percent to the Republicans' 37 percent.

Norquist said his group was in touch with Pennsylvania legislators while the transportation bill was coming together.

"This is an unusual situation," he said, referring to Corbett. "Most people who make the pledge keep it."

2015 mayoral update

Former City Councilman Frank Rizzo returned to his old stomping grounds yesterday morning, schmoozing and shaking hands in the caucus room before Council's weekly meeting.

Following him around was a writer for Philadelphia magazine.

"He's doing a story on me, has to do with my upcoming announcement," said Rizzo, rumored to be preparing for the race.

Former Common Pleas Judge Nelson Diaz emailed about 70 people Wednesday declaring that none of the rumored 2015 candidates for mayor "have the experience and commitment to Philadelphia that I have exhibited for over 45 years."

Recipients of the email included former Gov. Ed Rendell, Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen, Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council business manager Pat Gillespie, several elected officials and a whole bunch of lawyers.

Diaz, who also worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and as city solicitor for then-Mayor John Street, asks in his missive for advice on whether he should run.

"Let me know if you agree and are willing to assist, contribute or work in your capacity to elect the next mayor of Philadelphia," Diaz wrote.

1st Ward still fighting

The battle continues between John Dougherty, leader of the Democratic 1st Ward in South Philly, and Karen Brown, the former committeewoman who defected to the Republicans in 2011 to be their nominee for mayor and then tried to come back and take over the ward this year.

Brown yesterday appealed a Common Pleas ruling from last week that removed her from the ballot for her old committee post, declaring her ineligible under the Democratic City Committee's bylaws because she ran for a Republican judge of elections post in the 2013 general election.

Dougherty, head of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said Brown met with him and with U.S. Rep. Bob Brady on the Saturday and Sunday before last week's hearing.

Brady, chairman of the city's Democratic Party, and Dougherty say Brown asked for $500 per head to withdraw petitions for people she had running for committee posts, patronage jobs for four of them, a role in the ward leadership, support for a future run for Council and $4,000 for her legal fees.

She walked away empty-handed, Dougherty and Brady said.

"If it was a labor guy doing that, we'd already be in handcuffs," Dougherty said of Brown.

Brown denies asking for money at the meetings and said that although many things were discussed, no deal was finalized.

"Brady bent over backward to have the meeting happen," she said. "I give him a lot of credit. He was trying to work something out."

Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/phillyclout

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