Onorato: “jobs are there” comment shows Corbett is naive

Democrat Dan Onorato is pouncing on Republican Tom Corbett’s recent comments about unemployed workers who are turning down job offers.

During a campaign appearance in Lancaster County on Friday, Corbett said “the jobs are there,” but many workers are passing up opportunities in order to keep collecting unemployment benefits. Corbett says that’s what he’s been hearing from business owners across the state.

More than 500,000 Pennsylvanians are out of work, and the state’s unemployment rate is 9.1 percent.

Onorato says Corbett is out of touch. “To somehow turn this and put the blame on them, as though they don’t want a job because there might be an unemployment check out there. Well then you either have never known anybody who was unemployed, or you’re just naïve to the situation. Or you just don’t care.”

Onorato blasted Corbett for more than a half-hour, re-directing nearly every question back to the Attorney General’s comments.

Oddly, Onorato refused to take a solid stance on extending federal unemployment benefits during his press conference on…unemployment. He was asked at least three times whether he supports increasing benefits to 99 weeks, and never gave a definitive “yes” or “no.” “I wouldn’t be opposed to it,” he said after a second follow-up,  “but I’m not lobbying – that’s not my issue right now. My issue is to get jobs back to Pennsylvania. Congress has got to make a decision on what they think is best.”
At the same time Onorato spoke to Capitol reporters, Corbett held a campaign event in Lancaster County, and began to walk his comments back.  “People are perceiving it as insensitive. I don’t mean to be insensitive – that certainly wasn’t the intention,” Corbett told Capitolwire. “I’m not insensitive to it. I know that the people of Pennsylvania, we’ve got a 9.1 percent unemployment rate. We’ve got to improve that. I think I’ve talked about we need to improve it by getting more jobs to Pennsylvania, by keeping businesses in Pennsylvania, by reducing the cost of taxes in Pennsylvania, of doing business in Pennsylvania.”

Still, the head of a conservative trade association is backing Corbett up. Kevin Shivers, the executive director of Pennsylvania’s National Federation of Independent Businesses branch, says small business owners are telling his group they can’t find applicants for job openings.

Shivers says he hears the complaint at least once a week.

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

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