Schwartz presses rivals on ACA

Published by James O'Toole on .

Rep. Allyson Schwartz convened a conference call Wednesday, amplifying the message of a new commercial that touts her role in the passage of the Affordable Care Act , while questioning the depth of commitment to the law among her Democratic rivals.

The Schwartz commercial points to her role, as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, in pushing for the enactment of the landmark health care law.  It also faults Gov. Corbett for failing to embrace the Medicaid expansion that is part of the law. The Corbett administration is negotiating with the federal government with the aim of gaining the new Medicaid dollars, but using them for a premium support program that would allow recipients to purchase insurance privately.

In her conversation with reporters yesterday, Schwartz questioned the positions of her three rivals, suggesting that they had not been sufficiently outspoken in favor of the law. In particular, she suggested that York County businessman Tom Wolf had displayed “a little vagueness’’ in discussing the measure.

At a brief news conference in Pittsburgh the previous day, however, Mr. Wolf reiterated his support for the law and said he would do “anything in my power,’’ to promote full implementation.

"There's not a dime's worth of difference between Rob McCord and Allyson Schwartz on the Affordable Care Act.  If voters are looking for a real difference between the candidates, they should look at their drillers' tax proposals,’’ said Mark Nevins, a spokesman for the state treasurer’s campaign. He referred to the fact that Schwartz has called for a 5 percent extraction tax on natural gas while Mr. McCord has proposed a 10 percent levy.

Mike Mikus, Katie McGinty’s campaign manager, said she, too had said repeatedly that she was fully committed to the law. Mikus said that it was Schwartz who had suggested changes in the law, including a repeal of its tax on medical devices.  He also cited criticisms Schwartz has voiced on its creation of an Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel charged with containing the costs of Medicare.

"Katie McGinty has always been a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act, including the establishment of a Pennsylvania health care exchange,''' Mikuss said. "She has repeatedly criticized Governor Corbett for his failure to expand Medicaid.  Congresswoman Schwartz’s statement is mind boggling since Congresswoman Schwartz is the only  Democratic gubernatorial candidate who has supported legislation that would weaken the Affordable Care Act while also endangering Medicare.”

Schwartz acknowledged in her call that she had taken issue with some details of the law but emphasized her support for its overall provisions and reminded reporters that no one else in the race had been involved in the legislative process that produced it.


Wolf stumps in Bloomfield

Published by James O'Toole on .

York County businessman Tom Wolf wandered from store to shop to church to store in Bloomfield Tuesday, campaigning for the Democratic nomination for governor.  He was accompanied by two of his more prominent local supporters, both of whom know the territory well.  County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who grew up in the neighborhood, started the tour at Dan Cercone's barber shop on Liberty Avenue.

They were soon joined by Mayor Bill Peduto, who represented the community during his years on city council. The gray stubble of Mr. Peduto's playoff beard matched Mr. Wolf's own neatly trimmed beard.

Greeting the Democrats, and helping to lead the tour of Pittsburgh's Little Italy was Jane Cercone Scullion, the president of the Bloomfield Citizens' Council, who presented him with the history of the neighborhood that she wrote.  At another stop, at the Groceria Italiana, the trio shared a peperoni roll the size of a catcher's mitt. 

In the Paddy Cake Bakery, they ran into Debbie Pekich Demchek, of Lawrenceville, who recognized Mr. Wolf from his many commercials.  "You're the one I decided to vote for,'' she said.  "I'm liking eveything you're doing.

Near the end of the brief tour, Mr. Peduto led them to a spot outside the parish house of St Maria Goretti's Church, to view the memorial to three police officers killed in a 2009  shooting in Stanton Heights.

Two of Mr. Wolf's Democratic rivals, Katie McGinty and state Treasurer Rob McCord, were to meet later Tuesday a few miles away at a panel organized by a variety of African-American organizations, but the Wolf campaign said that he had a schedule conflict and would miss the event.



Schwartz ad embraces ACA

Published by James O'Toole on .

Rep.  Allyson Schwartz, the Democratic candidate for governor, has launched a new television ad that highlights her role in supporting the passage of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.  The commercial, running across the state, is notewarthy in that, at a time then Democratic across the country are treating the legislation warily, Ms. Schwartz is embracing it so prominently.  

The other three Democrats seeking the gubernatorial nomination share Ms. Schwartz overall position on the law.  They have all criticized Gov. Tom Corbett for failing to go aliong with the law's expansion of Medicaid and, in contrast to the governor, they would establish a state-based exchange for Pennsylvanians shopping for health insurance under the law.  Ms. Schwartz, however, is the first to feature that position so visibly.

The ad includes shots of Ms. Schwartz with President Barack Obama at a time when his overall approval rating continues to lag.  An aggregation of recent polls compiled at found the president overall job approval rating at 46 percent approve, 49 percent disapprove, while views toward his record on health care are even more negative, with 41 percent approval and 53 percent disapproval.  His ratings, and attitudes toward the landmark legislation, are considerably more positive among Democrats, however, and that's the audience Ms. Schwartz is worried about now, in the face of the polling lead amassed by York County businessman Tom Wolf. 

“I worked with President Obama on the Affordable Care Act and getting health coverage to all Americans,” Schwartz says at one point in the ad. “It was my legislation that said insurance companies can no longer deny coverage for kids with pre-existing conditions. It’s something I’m proud of because it also closed the gap in prescription drug coverage for seniors.”


Readshaw ad scrutinized

Published by James O'Toole on .

Kate Giammarise takes a critical look at the claims in a an ad for Rep. Harry Readshaw in which he denounces a transportation funding bill, enacted last year, as a giveaway to Philadelphia. 

"While [the ad] is factually correct, it lacks any meaningful context,'' political scientist Chris Borick, tells our correspondent.  Ms. Giammarise points out that the bill's funding also extends to the Allegheny County Port Authority as well as road and bridge projects across the state.


Lamb, Firefighters for McCord

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“Rob McCord's picking up more insitutional support in PIttsburgh _ city Controller Michael Lamb and the politically active Firefighters union.

The treasurer's campaign heralded the controller's support in a press release which quoted Mr. Lamb explaining that, "Rob McCord knows Pittsburgh better than any candidate in the primary ...  That’s because he’s spent so much time here, it’s like a second home for him. As treasurer, McCord's accomplishments have helped all working people in Pittsburgh. McCord helped us not just by fighting and beating Corbett on the lottery and other issues, but also by providing great fiscal work, like fully repairing the PA 529 college savings program and generating incredible investment returns. I know that, with Rob McCord as governor, we’ll have a great leader and a real champion of Pittsburgh fighting for us in state government.”

Darrin Kelly, the Firefighters' political director, said the union decided to throw its support behind McCord because they're been impressed by his track record as treasurer.

"McCord's done a great job through his years of service and we know he would make a great governor,'' Kelly said.