Tartaglione on Corbett Interview: ‘Damn Lies and Statistics’
HARRISBURG, April 30, 2013 — Gov. Corbett’s contention that drug use is responsible for Pennsylvania’s high unemployment rate is disturbing, but not the most troubling part of his interview on PAMatters.com, state Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione said today.
“The governor’s disdain for the unemployed and the thousands of families affected is long-held and already well-known,” Tartaglione said. “But the rest of the interview showed a state executive with a poor grasp on Pennsylvania economics and a propensity to freely make statements unburdened by facts.”
Among the glaring misstatements of fact Corbett made in the interview is the contention that “we now have more people working than ever before.”
“There are, in fact, more unemployed Pennsylvanians today than there were the day the governor was inaugurated,” Tartaglione said. “And the size of the labor force is still more than 100,000 short of its peak during the Rendell administration. These are numbers that are easy to obtain by anyone with a computer. It’s stunning.”
In one of the interview’s more eye-opening moments, Corbett questioned the accuracy of the U.S. Labor Department’s employment calculations, saying he recently learned how the unemployment rate is calculated.
Addressing criticism that Pennsylvania has fallen from the top ten to the bottom five among states in job creation, Corbett didn’t dispute the figures.
“What I dispute is the use of statistics,” he said. Corbett went on to misattribute the quotation about “lies, damn lies and statistics” to Mark Twain, who had actually misattributed it himself in a 1906 magazine article.
Corbett also claimed that Pennsylvania’s stubbornly high unemployment rate is due to more people re-entering the workforce after having given up.
Figures released by U.S. Department of Labor this week indicate the opposite, with two consecutive monthly drops in the size of the labor force.
Before making his statement that prospective employees failing drug tests was a chief reason for high unemployment, Corbett also blamed poorly trained Pennsylvania workers who are unable to take advantage of opportunities in the gas drilling industry.
The governor suggested workers need more training through vocational schools and community colleges.
“Year after year the governor has proposed cuts in funding for the types of training he’s suggesting, including for community colleges, which haven’t received a state funding increase since before the gas boom began,” Tartaglione said. “You can’t just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.”
Tartaglione said Pennsylvania’s 512,000 unemployed should worry that the Corbett administration has not only pushed for cuts in benefits and created havoc in unemployment call centers, but he’s seemingly out of touch with Pennsylvania’s economy.
“The governor needs to look at the statistics and admit they are real. When our chief executive compares the unemployment rate to a ‘damn lie,’ then there is no hope for policy change from the top.”