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Truth Test: Attack Ads For Pa. Governor Race

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Governor Race

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The gloves are off in the race to be the next governor of Pennsylvania. Both candidates, Tom Corbett (R) and Dan Onorato (D), are airing television commercials attacking each other on jobs and the economy, but an Eyewitness News “Truth Test” found not everything they say is perfectly true.

Take Dan Onorato’s claim that “Tom Corbett supported economic policies that cost thousands of jobs.” This is misleading because the commercial makes it sound like Corbett himself instituted those economic policies. Instead, this is based on the fact that Corbett supported George W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004, and the country lost jobs during the Bush presidency.

The bottom line is that Corbett’s job as Pennsylvania Attorney General – and before that U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh – has nothing to do with the economy or creating jobs.

So, while Onorato’s claim that Corbett has created no jobs is technically true, it’s also misleading because he doesn’t have that power as a prosecutor.

Then, there is Tom Corbett’s ad attacking Dan Onorato. Corbett claims that as Allegheny County Executive, “Onorato broke his promise to cut property taxes. Now they’re among the highest in the U.S.” This is also misleading because the commercial makes it sound like Onorato increased property taxes. He has not. Instead, he simply has not cut them.

Plus, it’s worth pointing out that homeowners in Pennsylvania pay most of their property taxes to their local school district – something Dan Onorato has no control over as a county executive.

Tom Corbett also says that “Onorato’s excessive tax increases forced small businesses to close.” This claim refers to a new tax in Allegheny County on poured alcoholic drinks that Onorato supported. The money is going toward mass transit in the Pittsburgh area. After the tax was implemented, news reports indicate that some bars did shut down, but the vast majority, 95 percent, paid the tax without a problem.

Finally, Tom Corbett’s commercial says this about Dan Onorato: “Under Onorato’s leadership, a tragic 21,000 people were added to the unemployment line.”

Strictly by the numbers, this is true. But it’s largely the fault of the national recession. The real question here is: can local officials like Onorato be held accountable for the recession?

It fairness to Onorato, Allegheny County is faring better than most of the country when it comes to the number of workers unemployed. Allegheny County’s 8 percent unemployment rate is lower than both the Pennsylvania average (9.2 percent) and the national unemployment rate (9.6 percent).

Reported By: Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3

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