Posts Tagged health

Crash and Burn: Wolf Job Approval Rating Hits Record Low


There is an old Irish proverb that holds “There’s nothing so bad it couldn’t be worse.”  That applies to Governor Tom Wolf’s job approval rating with the owners and chief executive officers of businesses throughout Penn’s Woods.  It has now dropped to the lowest point ever recorded by a governor in the 21-year history of the Keystone Business Climate Survey. The poll is compiled each Spring and Fall by the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research.

Eighty-nine percent of the business leaders surveyed said they have a negative view of Governor Tom Wolf’s job performance; just 5% give him a positive rating.  That eclipses the previous record disapproval recorded by Governor Ed Rendell in the Fall of 2009 when 86% offered a negative assessment of his job performance.  It is also a 20% drop in approval for Governor Wolf from one year ago.  In fact, the governor’s job approval rating has now sunk below that of President Barack Obama who tallied an 88% job disapproval rating.  It is the first time a Pennsylvania governor’s job approval has dipped lower than President Obama’s.

Business Climate

Driving the Governor’s record low job approval rating is a growing pessimism over the state’s economic climate.  In numbers not seen since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009, 54% of the business owners and CEOs say Pennsylvania’s business climate has gotten worse over the past six months.  That is up from 33% who experienced worsening economic conditions one year ago.  The number of respondents saying the state’s business climate has gotten better over the past six months stood at just 6%, down from 13% one year ago.  Looking ahead, 76% expect the state’s business climate to worsen over the coming six months, 8% look for conditions to improve.

In recent years, employment levels have held relative steady.  That has now changed as 22% said they employ fewer people than they did six months ago, 9% report an increase in employment.  In what passes for optimism in this poll, the same number (15%) predict employment levels at their business will rise or fall over the coming six months.

Another turn-around is in company sales.  After steady or moderate increases in sales, the Spring 2016 Keystone Business Climate Survey found sales had dropped at 39% of the companies responding, and increased at 18%.   But, 27% project a sales increase over the coming six months while 15% say they look for sales to decrease.

State Issues

About a third (30%) of the business leaders polled said their business had been harmed by the state budget impasse.  But, 85% think Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed state budget will harm Pennsylvania’s overall business climate; 65% say it will inflict significant harm. Seven percent see the Wolf budget as helping the state’s economy.

Governor Wolf claims the state has a “structural budget deficit” of over $1 billion dollars.  Assuming that is correct, 77% of the CEOs/owners said the state should cut spending to match revenue.  Eighteen percent support a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes to balance the budget.  About 1% suggested maintaining current spending levels and raising taxes to cover the deficit.  Just 1% support Governor Wolf’s approach which is to increase spending and increase taxes to cover both the deficit and higher spending.

As part of his budget proposal, Governor Wolf has included an 11% increase in the state income tax for all individuals and businesses.  Ninety-four percent oppose that proposal; 5% are in agreement.  Another Wolf initiative is to raise the state’s 6% sales tax to help balance the budget.  That idea was turned thumbs down by 73% of the poll respondents, but earned the support of 25%.  Opposition was especially strong to the idea of increasing the state’s Corporate Net Income (CNI) tax.  Ninety percent oppose the idea with 76% expressing strong opposition.  Six percent support raising the CNI.

In the absence of a state budget, Governor Tom Wolf has continued to spend money on those items he deems appropriate.  When asked if they think it is constitutional for the governor to spend state tax dollars on line items that have not yet been approved by the legislature, 87% said it is not; 5% think it passes constitutional muster.

The business owners and CEOs participating in the Spring 2016 Keystone Business Climate Survey do not want a state budget adopted at any costs.  When asked if they agree or disagree with this statement: A new state budget should be adopted immediately even if it means significant increase in my taxes, 89% disagreed – 80% strongly disagreed.  Nine percent agreed and said a state budget should be adopted regardless even if it means higher taxes.

On other issues, the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives is considering impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Kathleen Kane. Kane is under indictment for allegedly leaking Grand Jury information and has announced she will not seek re-election in November.  Fifty percent of the business leaders said the House should drop impeachment proceedings; 41% think impeachment proceedings should continue.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly is considering the legalization of medical marijuana.  Sixty-three percent support the legalization of medical marijuana; 31% oppose legalization.

By executive order Governor Tom Wolf has raised the minimum wage for state employees to $10.15 per hour.  Eighty-one percent of the CEOs/business owners said they oppose raising the minimum wage for the private sector to that level; 17% would support such an increase in the minimum wage.

Job Approval Ratings

President Barack Obama continues to receive strongly negative job performance reviews from survey participants.  Eighty-eight percent disapprove of the job the President is doing; 9% approve.  Janet Yellen, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board also received negative marks: 44% negative to 18% positive as did U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew with 39% disapproving of his job performance and 5% offering their approval.

The only official tested with a net positive job approval rating was U.S. Senator Pat Toomey.  The state’s junior senator was given a positive rating by 48% of the business leaders against a 24% negative rating.  U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. scored a 14% positive, 56% negative rating.

As noted, Governor Tom Wolf received a record high disapproval rating at 89%.  That was worse than the negative rating given to Attorney General Kane.  The indicted top law enforcement official received a 75% negative rating and a 10% positive rating.  Two-thirds or more offered no opinion on the two statewide fiscal officers.  Auditor General Eugene DePasquale got positive marks from 15%, with 17% offering a negative view.  State Treasurer Tim Reese had a 17% negative rating against an 8% positive rating.

Participants in the survey offered a strong negative view of the job being done by the United States Senate: 77% hold a negative view of the institution’s job performance with 12% having a positive view.  The U.S. House of Representatives fared a bit better with 72% offering a negative assessment and 18% a positive view.  Fifty-one percent of the respondents give the Pennsylvania State Senate negative marks, 37% think the state senate is doing a good job.  Fifty-one percent have a negative view of the job being done by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives; 39% say the lower chamber is doing a good job.

Methodology

The Spring 2016 Keystone Business Climate Survey was conducted electronically from March 14, 2016 thru April 1, 2016.  A total of 367 individuals responded of which 84% are the owner of their business; 13% are the CEO/COO/CFO and 2% are a state or a local manager. Complete numeric results can be viewed at http://www.lincolninstitute.org.

For interviews on this survey please contact Lowman S. Henry at717 671-0776 or lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.

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Governor Wolf, You’re No Barack Obama


Imitation, the saying goes, is the most sincere form of flattery.  So either Governor Tom Wolf is in the running for president of the Barack Obama fan club, or the Wolf Administration lacks the capacity for original thought.   In ways big and small Tom Wolf has copied the Obama governing strategy.  The problem for the governor is that the Obama approach relies heavily on levers of power available to the president, but not to governors.

President Obama and Governor Wolf each ascended to the chief executive’s office with skimpy political resumes.  Obama had been a U.S. Senator for only two years when he ran for president. Wolf’s only public service was as secretary of revenue in the Rendell Administration.  Both interpreted their elections as mandates that simply didn’t exist.  Obama’s election resulted from voter backlash over George W. Bush’s unpopular wars.  Wolf won simply because he wasn’t Tom Corbett.

Their campaign organizations were similar.  Barack Obama bested Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in 2008.  Clinton loyalists populated the Democratic National Committee and were salted throughout the party structure.  Obama built his own campaign apparatus, Obama for America, which allowed him to essentially bypass the official party.  When Jim Burn refused to step down as state Democratic Party chairman, candidate Tom Wolf formed Fresh Start PA, again running his campaign outside of the formal party machinery.

Seeking to build upon their phantom mandates, both Obama and Wolf took office espousing grand ideas.  Having tacked hard to the Left to win a competitive primary, Wolf named two erstwhile opponents, Katie McGinty and John Hanger as chief of staff and policy director.  McGinty and Hanger are two of the most left-wing policy wonks in the state and immediately proposed a massive expansion of spending, along with a complex reworking of the state’s tax structure that – if enacted – would result in the largest tax hike in state history.  The scope of the proposed tax increase is so large it alone is bigger than the tax hikes proposed by governors of the other 49 states combined.

President Obama also came into office with big ideas.  Most of those grand schemes failed, with the notable exception of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which became law but triggered massive Democratic congressional defeats the following year.  In fact, Obama lost so many legislative battles he settled on a new strategy – bypassing congress and governing by executive order.

Governor Wolf’s copying of the Obama playbook fails to take into account that Democrats controlled both houses of congress during his first year in office.  Wolf has no such luxury.  In fact, he began his term with Republicans solidly in control of the state senate and holding a historically high number of seats in the house.  In another major departure from the Washington model, the GOP majorities in Harrisburg are cohesive with effective leadership, unlike the hapless Republicans in congress.

Like Obama, Tom Wolf has opted to run a perpetual campaign rather than trying to govern.  Obama for America became Organizing for America as the president attempted to politically bludgeon Republicans into bending to his will.  Likewise Governor Wolf has set up his own PAC and called in help from the Democratic Governors Association attacking Republicans for blocking his tax and spend agenda.

The problem with this strategy is it leads to gridlock.  Washington has been beset by a series of high profile budget battles. Wolf vetoed the GOP-passed state budget and talks are at a stalemate.  Worse for Wolf, the president’s ace in the hole is his bully pulpit.  Obama can count on a compliant national news media to beat the drums against Republicans.  At the state level few media organizations have reporters at the capitol and state issues gain little public attention.  That makes it considerably more difficult for Wolf to put voter pressure on a legislature that simply won’t give in to his demands for more spending and higher taxes.

Finally, President Obama has consistently out-messaged national Republicans framing issues to his advantage. Tom Wolf has failed to do so.  More spending and higher taxes play well in the Philadelphia region, but nowhere else.  It is a message that quite simply won’t sell statewide.

By not grasping the structural differences between the Obama approach and governing Penn’s Woods Tom Wolf has wed a policy agenda that cannot be achieved.  Thus the budget stand-off in Harrisburg will continue until the governor realizes he is no Barack Obama and accepts the reality that Harrisburg is a very different place than Washington, D.C.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Sen. Mike Folmer Talks Medical Cannabis


Radio Program Schedule for the week of July 11, 2015 – July 17, 2015

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm has news headlines from PAIndependent.com
  • Lowman Henry has a Newsmaker interview with State Senator Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) about his efforts to legalize the medical use of Cannabis
  • Joe Geiger has Kay Washington from the Pathstone Corporation in the Community Benefit Spotlight
  • Beth Anne Mumford from Americans for Prosperity-PA has a Lincoln Radio Journal commentary on a Mercatus study state financial health

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Scott Summer of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University about the Greek financial crisis
  • Doug Sachtleben of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on re-authorization of No Child Left Behind
  • Eric Boehm and Rob Nikolewski have a Watchdog Radio report on the cost to taxpayers of the Ivanpah solar facility
  • Lowman Henry has an American Radio Journal commentary on why illegal immigration is just a symptom of the real problem

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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Fool’s Errand


In announcing its plans to ignite a Republican civil war on the eve of the 2014 election cycle Scott Reed of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the goal is “no fools on our ticket.”  He made this announcement while donning a $50 million court jester suit. That is the amount of money the group plans on spending in the upcoming GOP primaries.

Apparently believing congressional leadership – whose job approval rating makes President Obama’s 39% approval look robust – needs a bit of shoring up as the new cycle commences, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has decided the enemy is not the Democrats who visited Obamacare and an unprecedented era of government regulation upon business. No, the enemy is the Tea Party.

Yes, the Tea Party, the grassroots movement of Americans who still believe in the principles of limited, constitutional government.  That movement, you may recall, which returned the GOP to majority status in the U.S. House of Representatives providing at least some modicum of counterbalance to the President’s rigid ideological agenda.

Reed’s strategy is classic minority think.  Rather than expand the coalition into a diverse – and yes, sometimes contentious majority, he would rather the ineffective GOP establishment in congress retain control over a diminished, but tightly controlled minority conference.  This is not about what is best for business, or for the Republican Party, or for the good of the nation: it is about controlling the levers of power in congress.

We’ve seen this act before. Newt Gingrich’s conservative revolution led the GOP into majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994.  He floundered and in 1998 the establishment took control of the Republican conference, only to cede control back to the Democrats in 2006.  That happened because the GOP establishment proved itself to be Democrat lite, so voters opted for the real thing.  Lest Mr. Reed forget, it took the grassroots fervor of the Tea Party to sweep the GOP back into power in 2010.

With establishment figures like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell holding top GOP leadership positions in the House and Senate respectively, public approval of the legislative branch has fallen to single digits.  Again, the American public is rejecting their approach to governance, but the U.S. Chamber is rushing to the rescue.

At issue is control of the U.S. Senate.  Reed says the chamber’s goal is “to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates.”  Those are nice sounding code words for “make sure we have no Tea Party candidates.”   Recent election cycles have produced senators not willing to bend to the will of establishment leadership.  Senators like Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin come to mind.

Under the chamber’s current strategy even Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, who chased establishment U.S. Senator Arlen Specter from the party and then claimed that seat in the 2010 General Election would have been in that year a chamber target under the new Reed strategy.  Toomey has chosen a more workman-like approach than the senators mentioned above, eschewing the spotlight for what has proven to be highly effective behind-the-scenes legislating,

Reed and the Washington GOP establishment have seized on Tea Party missteps to make their case in the upcoming primaries.  But, for every Tea Party loss like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, there has been an establishment melt-down like George Allen in Virginia.  Simply put, Reed and his allies have supported their share of losing nominees.

All of this plays out against the backdrop of the GOP’s failure to win control of the U.S. Senate in 2012.  The party’s chances looked promising, but missteps by both Tea Party-backed and establishment-backed candidates overlaid by the inept Presidential campaign of establishment favorite Mitt Romney scuttled the opportunity.

With nearly twice as many Democrat as Republican seats up for election in 2014 and an electoral climate poisoned by the Obamacare fiasco the GOP’s chances of winning a senate majority are good, very good.  But groups like the U.S. Chamber declaring war on the party base are a bad omen.  Because it doesn’t matter who is nominated, no Republican candidate in any state can win without the active support of voters who identify with Tea Party principles.

The Tea Party and the chamber should be natural allies, but a power driven desire for insider control has led the business group to choose conflict over collaboration.

It is, to adopt their term, a fool’s errand.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

 

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Union Issues Poll


Radio Program Schedule for the week of November 9, 2013 – November 15, 2013

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry gets election analysis from former Virginia Governor now President & CEO of Free Congress Foundation Jim Gilmore
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on an upcoming battle for the soul of the Republican Party
  • Benjamin Yount and Eric Boehm analyze the New Jersey governor race along with key state and local ballot questions
  • Col. Frank Ryan, USMC (Ret.) has an American Radio Journal commentary on why in the private sector Obamacare would be considered to be fraud

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm and Benjamin Yount have news headlines from www.paindependent.com
  • David Taylor of the PA Manufacturers Association and Kevin Shivers from the PA Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business have a Capitol Watch look at the Lincoln Institute’s Union Issues Poll
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on why Penn State should be included in the Open Records Law

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Congressman Scott Perry


Radio Program Schedule for the week of October 26, 2013 – November 1, 2013

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Albert Ciardi of the Military Assistance Project about pro bono legal help for servicemen and women experiencing financial problems
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the political impact of Obamacare on congressional Democrats up for re-election next year
  • Benjamin Yount has a Watchdog Radio look at how Obamacare is affecting the states
  • Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring, USA has an American Radio Journal commentary on ending up in “password purgatory” when he attempted to log onto the Obamacare website

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm and Benjamin Yount have news headlines from www.paindependent.com
  • David Taylor hosts a Capitol Watch look at how events in Washington, D.C. affect Pennsylvania with Kevin Shivers from the PA Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business and with U.S. Representative Scott Perry (R-York)
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on why the economy is not recovering from the Great Recession

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Glen Grell Talks Pension Reform


Radio Program Schedule for the week of October 19, 2013 – October 25, 2013

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Rich Tucker of the Heritage Foundation about the Founding Fathers’ view of national debt
  • Andy Roth has the Real Story behind the GOP cave-in that ended the partial government shutdown
  • Eric Boehm has a Watchdog Radio Report on problems and scams surrounding Obamacare
  • Col. Frank Ryan, USMC (Ret.) has an American Radio Journal commentary on employees becoming less engaged in their workplace

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm and Melissa Daniels have news headlines from www.paindependent.com
  • Lowman Henry has a Newsmaker interview with State Representative Glen Grell on his plans to resolve Pennsylvania’s public employee pension crisis
  • Eric Montarti and Frank Gamrat have an Allegheny Institute Report on whether school district mergers actually save money
  • Jennifer Stefano has a Stefano Speaks! commentary on shutdown madness

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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