Lincoln * Institute

Dr. Paul Kengor

Dr. Paul Kengor

Executive Director
Center for Vision & Values
at Grove City College


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Kengor's Corner

The Class Warfare Wolf

by Paul Kengor

I've paid virtually no attention to the Democrats' candidates for Pennsylvania governor. Sure, I offered the obligatory plea to the high heavens that Allyson Schwartz never gets anywhere near the governor's mansion but that's about it.

Recently, however, one of the Democrats, Tom Wolf, burst into my living room while I was minding my own business. I discovered him on Root Sports during a commercial break while watching the Pirates. The 32-second ad begins with Wolf riding in a Jeep across the Pennsylvania countryside, in what looks like the Lancaster area. He takes a shot at "the politicians" in Harrisburg who voted themselves a raise.

OK, I initially thought, a populist – or, more precisely, a Democrat doing the populist thing. But the populist was tossed under the wheels seconds later.

The ad claims that these Harrisburg politicians "refuse to fund our schools" (as if they don't, or at least don't enough) and instead "support a tax structure that favors the rich."

Ah, I mumbled to myself, here we go – class warfare time.

It's time, Wolf continues, to "stand up for the middle class for a change."

The populist in the Jeep was taking a hard left from Amish country to Occupy Wall Street. In mere seconds, he did a U-turn from the farmland back to his Ivy League confines at Dartmouth.

Here was the kicker, apparently a core issue for Wolf: "We're the only state in the country that lets oil and gas companies off the hook," he asserts. And how's that? Bold letters appear on the screen: "Pennsylvania: The only state that doesn't charge an extraction tax."

And that's a bad thing? The web version of the ad at YouTube explains that Harrisburg's politicians favor "state oil companies at the expense of Pennsylvania students, parents and teachers."

I knew nothing about Tom Wolf before this. Now I know all I need to know. Think about what this short ad tells us.

For one thing, Tom Wolf, along with every Democrat in this state, especially those demanding jobs, ought to get on his knees and thank the Almighty for shale gas. That natural resource has saved this state's economy. But leave it to a liberal to think the gas industry hasn't done enough for Pennsylvanians. Leave it to liberals to look to natural gas not with gratitude but anger for supposedly not providing its "fair share." Liberals demonized this industry, insisting it would destroy the environment and communities. Now, they embrace it as a golden calf – to milk for revenue, for their pet projects, for their social engineering, for income leveling and, most of all, to grow government and their public-sector union voter-base.

Leave it to liberals to bemoan the gas industry because it hasn't been tapped – not for energy but as a cash cow to sustain what Barack Obama calls "redistributive change."

Notably, the revenue is not needed to balance the budget. Wolf's likely opponent, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, eliminated a $4.2 billion deficit he inherited and without taxing more of your income – and, of course, with the help of the economic boom ignited by the gas industry. So, why hassle the industry for not paying its "fair share"? Well, for the usual "progressive" reasons.

Tom Wolf pumps the middle class but natural gas has fueled and fed this state's middle class with no thanks to liberals. He should see natural gas as good for the middle class, not for class warfare.

I didn't know squat about Tom Wolf until I saw this ad. His bio notes he had been appointed the state's secretary of Revenue by Ed Rendell. That makes perfect sense. His interest was government revenue. Apparently, that's where it remains.

Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College. His latest book is "11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative."

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