Today, millionaire garbage man and freshman State Senator Scott Wagner was the guest speaker for the PA Press Club luncheon at the Hilton in Harrisburg. In his prepared remarks, the Senator frequently eschewed facts in favor of combative rhetoric to attack unions, pensions, teachers, his fellow lawmakers, and Governor Wolf.
It was clear from the narrative he put forward that he views his special election victory from 2014 not only as a mandate from his constituents, but from a broader statewide segment of voters. This is why, he explained, he is often seen as behaving like a bully, because he believes he was sent to Harrisburg to impose his ideas, and he becomes frustrated when the other 252 members of the General Assembly refuse to go along with him.
His problem, more likely, is that his agenda is based on ideas that are far out of step with the facts, and that the ‘mandate’ he won in 2014 was the result of 10,654 votes cast for his candidacy: less than 0.09% of Pennsylvanians. He spent the majority of his time this afternoon laying his opinion of blame at the feet of others, while offering no solutions.
During the Q&A period, he demonstrated a disturbing lack of familiarity with the details of the legislative agenda that he is vigorously advocating. For example, he denied that there would be transition costs associated with the Republican pension bill – when PERC has stated costs well over $30 billion. He also claimed public workers contribute nothing to their own retirement.
When challenged on other important issues, the Senator was dismissive and out of touch, suggesting that he could give up his baseball bat and instead recruit a SWAT team to clean up the Capitol, refusing to apologize for comparing union leaders to Hitler. Perhaps the most glaring example of his out-of-touch millionaire perspective was when he was bragging that “flying in a helicopter for me is like riding in a taxi.”
Several of our submitted questions went unanswered today, but maybe Senator Wagner would like to take his time to address them now:
- Are you funding a write-in candidate in HR161 against your own party endorsement?
- Do you find it ethical to make personal loans to candidates running for public office – i.e. $100,000 to Camera Bartolotta
- Given your support for so-called “paycheck protection,” will you disclose how much money collected from citizen taxes and fees you use to further your political agenda?
- All you did was come here and lay blame. Your opinion of blame. Why not come with solutions?
- Who exactly has said “we have always done it this way?” or is this a rhetorical straw man?