Contrasting images: President Trump’s is brash, loud and sometimes insulting.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s is laid back, polite, soft-spoken and never insulting.

Yet Wolf has out-Trumped Trump by actually doing what the President is accused of doing, which is using the coronavirus lockdown’s effects to play partisan politics.

The overreach is with respect to unemployment compensation.

Some furloughed workers have refused to return to work even though their employers have reopened or there is work for them.

That flies in the face of common sense and state law.

Money to offset the loss of a job is not a right. People are denied unemployment compensation regularly for a host of reasons. Some people have had the payments stopped. A relative few have been court-ordered to repay the money.

Fear of returning to work is understandable in this time of COVID-19 illnesses and deaths. There are risks in returning to work. Heck, there are risks in driving to and from work.

It is one thing to respect a person’s fear in today’s scary environment. It is another thing altogether to use taxpayer money to pay that person for enduring (enjoying? inventing?) that fear.

Wolf claimed in an April 21 news conference that unemployment compensation payments, once approved, could not be revoked.


Unemployment compensation payments are revoked all the time, for reasons ranging from ineligibility to fraud.

It is a fundamental principle of both law and governance that unemployment compensation is not available to people who choose not to work.

President Trump has been criticized, justly, for having claimed “total authority” over reopening the country when authority in that regard is shared among the President, Congress, and the governors and legislatures of our states. The President has in effect acknowledged those limitations on his authority.

Now comes Wolf, whose demeanor is dramatically different — but whose preposterous claim is just as unacceptable as anything Trump has done to expand his power.

Wolf even made things worse. Employers, he said, should increase their workers’ wages so that workers made more money at work than they do via unemployment compensation.

Just the opposite should occur. State and federal governments should limit unemployment compensation so that it never exceeds 75 percent of a person’s take-home pay. Payments should cease when employees are summoned back to work.

In this regard at least, Wolf has been unmasked. Beneath his moderate/centrist manner lurks a wacko leftist extremist.

That is unacceptable. So, in this regard, is Wolf.

— Denny Bonavita

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