Governor Tom Corbett earned praise last Friday from the "dean" of the conservative movement in Pennsylvania. Emphasizing the administration’s pro-growth efforts, Frederick W. Anton III told a crowded ballroom at the 25th annual Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in Camp Hill that he was "100 percent behind the re-election of Tom Corbett."
Mr. Anton’s public commitment is significant for a Governor who faces voters in November in a bid for a second four-year term. For decades, Mr. Anton, as head of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association (PMA), has been a prominent statewide business and political influencer, backing pro-business and conservative candidates. Twenty-five years ago, he put his political muscle behind the creation of the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, an annual event that attracts conservative leaders from all over Pennsylvania and noted speakers from across the country. His reason? He could no longer distinguish Republican from Democratic policies.
"The vision and strategic effort begun by Mr. Anton in the late 1980s has been validated by history," said David N. Taylor, Executive Director of the PMA. "The distinction between the Government Party and the Taxpayer Party has become much clearer, even as our truth-in-labeling process continues. The era of Barbara Hafer is over," Taylor said, referring to the 1990 Republican gubernatorial nominee and former State Treasurer who changed parties and endorsed the campaign of Democrat Ed Rendell.
At the conference’s dinner, Governor Corbett outlined his administration’s conservative accomplishments, including closing a $4.2 billion deficit he inherited upon taking office.
"We pointed out that we didn’t have a revenue problem, we had a spending problem," Corbett said. "And the right, fair thing to do was to bring fiscal discipline to state government and that is exactly what we have done."
Another move praised by Mr. Anton, the Governor opposed a new, additional tax on the natural gas industry. "We have a great chance to offer businesses affordable energy and feed stock, the building blocks for many products," Mr. Anton said. "And the only new ideas we hear from the Democrats running for Governor are that we have to tax the drillers."
Mr. Anton also cited the Governor’s efforts to improve the state’s business climate, which, among other things, suffers from an "inordinate grip by unions" on the state’s economy. He urged the audience to become familiar with payroll deduction legislation in the General Assembly that would stop public sector unions from automatically deducting from workers’ paychecks the money they use to fuel their political agendas.
Other notable conservative speakers at this year’s Pennsylvania Leadership Conference included U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) and former U.S. Senator and 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
Toomey led the successful campaign in the Senate to block the nomination of Debo Adegbile, the former head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. As legal counsel for the Defense Fund, Adegbile deployed the clout and prestige of the NAACP to help overturn the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. The Left has used Abu-Jamal’s case to attack the judicial system and slander the United States as irredeemably racist, Toomey said.
"A group of celebrities and politicians are spreading lies about the details of the case portraying the killer as the victim," Toomey said. "Four eyewitnesses saw Abu-Jamal pump the bullets into Danny Faulkner. Three other witnesses heard him brag about the killing." U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Chris Coons (D-DE) joined five other Democrats and all Republicans in opposing the radical’s nomination.
Toomey said the recent Senate rule change that requires only a majority to approve a President’s nominee – ending the longstanding 60-vote threshold — effectively subordinates the Senate to an already overreaching executive branch.
He further noted a proposed EPA rule change that "will bring the EPA to your front yard," and the President’s changing the Affordable Care Act dozens of times. "Most of the changes are about delaying the painful parts of the law until after the November elections," he said.
Rick Santorum urged the audience to work just as hard as the left does in advancing its agenda. "I’m sick of hearing Republican politicians apologizing for conservative policies," Santorum said. "The conservative movement is vital to the future of the country." Santorum has recently been quoted as saying that he’s open to looking into a 2016 presidential run.
Other speakers at the two-day event featured author Michael Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan, and National Review Online editor and syndicated columnist, Jonah Goldberg. The event also included numerous workshops and panels on advancing the conservative message.
Tune in to PMA Perspective on PCN this Sunday at 5:30 p.m. to see an "All Access Pass" of PLC 2014. The episode will feature private interviews with U.S. Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA), former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, Jonah Goldberg, and Michael Reagan.