Tom Wolf: Pennsylvania’s Biggest Economic Challenge Is “Low Self-Esteem”

HARRISBURG — After learning that Governor Tom Wolf believes that Pennsylvania’s biggest economic problem is “low self-esteem,” Republican Party of Pennsylvania Communications Director Megan Sweeney released the following statement.

“Governor Tom Wolf continues to prove just how out of touch he is with Pennsylvania families,” Sweeney said. “Every day, millions of Pennsylvanians are working hard to provide for their families in the face of his looming high tax, big government agenda. Now, Governor Tom Wolf wants to raid family budgets and complain about our attitudes.

“Governor Wolf’s decision to call Pennsylvania an ‘underachiever’ is a slap in the face to every hard-working Pennsylvanian in this great Commonwealth. Pennsylvania is the greatest state in America, and Governor Wolf’s public bashing of our great Commonwealth says more about him than it does about Pennsylvania.”

The report from, which details Governor Tom Wolf’s remarks at the recent National Governors’ Association meeting, is below:

Capitolwire: Pennsylvania has a ‘low self-esteem’ problem, Wolf says.

Kevin Zwick
Staff Reporter

HARRISBURG– Gov. Tom Wolf suggested the biggest economic challenge facing Pennsylvania is “low self-esteem.”

During a recent panel at the National Governors Association, Wolf said public and private sectors need to work together to boost economic growth, utilize the state’s assets like location, two major cities, a strong workforce and university system, and fund public schools to fuel the workforce.

Later, when asked what is the biggest economic challenge, he said what he was about to say was “going to sound strange.”

“I mean I agree with everything…education, we got to build out the infrastructure, we have to make investments to make sure the economy can function, but I think the biggest problem in Pennsylvania is low self-esteem,” Wolf said, arousing a chuckle from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

“It wasn’t a laugh line,” Wolf said. Baker chimed back in saying Pennsylvania has “the most successful education institutions in the globe.”

Wolf said “we’re an underachiever.”

Pressed for further explanation, Wolf said a good leader needs to promote and tout the state’s assets.

“…I’m not saying this is a matter of just confidence, and that kind of thing, but I think one of the things that a good leader does is — and I think as governors we have this opportunity to do that — is to actually tout our own potential, and make sure that we’re not wasting away in part because we don’t think we’re as good as we’re really are,” he said.

“I think Pennsylvania is one of those under achieving states that could do a lot better with the resources it has and I think one of the responsibilities of leadership in Pennsylvania is to address, head-on, not only the structural issues, education, transportation, all those things, but also the psychological issues that keep us and hold us back. So low self-esteem actually is a big problem.”

Wolf agreed with the moderator that it’s part of his job to make sure “people have optimism and hope that they can get a better life.”

“Especially in Pennsylvania, yes,” Wolf responded.

Jeffery Sheridan, Wolf’s spokesman, said via email: “Of course the $2.3 billion deficit Governor Wolf inherited along with a middle class that is burdened and schools that are suffering as a result of his predecessor’s cuts are the greatest challenges Pennsylvania faces. As he has always said, the governor believes Pennsylvania is too modest about promoting its tremendous assets like our natural resources, our universities, our geographic location, our ports, and our great cities – to name only a few. He has said that many times.”