Toomey Discusses New “Super Committee” Post


Pat Toomey Official Portrait

US Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA)

US Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) was a “No” vote on the debt deal that passed Congress last week, but he will serve on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tapped Toomey for the “super committee” job on Wednesday.  Toomey tells reporters he’s honored to serve.  “This is a very important moment in the history of our country.  We’re facing a very serious challenge, and we need to address it very aggressively.” 

The bipartisan, bicameral “super committee” was created by last week’s debt deal, and will be called upon to reduce the deficit by at least $1.5-trillion dollars over the next decade.  They have until November 23rd.  Automatic cuts would be triggered if Congress doesn’t approve the committee’s recommendations. 

Toomey says the tax code is chock-full of opportunities for improvement, and he hopes the committee will take a close look.  “The goals should be to broaden the base and lower the rates, so that we can create an environment that’s more conducive to economic growth,” Toomey explains.  “That will also generate more revenue, a stronger economy always does.” 

While he would like to see the committee put the US on the path toward a balanced budget, Toomey acknowledges that success will require bipartisan support.  As reporters peppered him with questions on Wednesday’s conference call, Toomey cautioned that it’s probably not constructive to conduct committee discussions through the media.   

Other Senators on the committee include: John Kyl (R-AZ), Rob Portman (R-OH), Patty Murray (D-WA), John Kerry (D-MA) and Max Baucus (D-MT).  House members already named to the committee include: Fred Upton (R-MI), Dave Camp (R-MI) and Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).  House Democrats have yet to appoint their members.


Debt Deal Finalized, Pennsylvanians Upset With Both Parties

Pat Toomey (R-PA)

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) voted against the debt deal.

With the threat of a historic financial default hanging over their heads, a last minute plan emerged that was able to garner the support of President Barack Obama and a majority of Congress.  It allows for a $2-trillion dollar increase in the nation’s debt limit, in exchange for $2-trillion dollars in cuts over the next ten years.  Many of the long-term cuts hinge on a bipartisan “super committee,” which is tasked with identifying $1.5-trillion dollars in cuts by November 23rd.

Citing the $14.3-trillion dollars in debt the nation has already amassed, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) was a “No” vote.  “What we need to do is clear.  We need to cut spending now, we need to put controls on spending in the future and we need to ensure accountability.  I’m afraid this deal comes up short on all accounts,” Toomey said in a recorded statement. 

Bob Casey (D-PA)

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) voted for the debt deal.

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) supported the measure.  “No compromise is perfect and the process that has brought the country to the brink of default is unconscionable,” Casey said in an earlier statement.  Over in the House, 18 of the 19 Pennsylvania representatives supported the debt deal.  Congressman Mike Doyle (D-14th) voted “No.” 

A new Quinnipiac Poll – which was wrapping up as President Obama announced a debt deal Sunday night – finds that Pennsylvania voters overwhelmingly disapprove of Congress, on both sides of the aisle.  “My sense is that this is an overwhelming indictment of Congress right now.  From Democrats and Republicans, Pennsylvanians are clearly tired of this raucous debate and want to get on with business,” Quinnipiac pollster Tim Malloy said in an interview with Radio PA. 

Tuesday’s poll finds that two-thirds of PA voters disapprove of the job Republicans and Democrats are doing in Congress.  By a 44 – 37 margin, Pennsylvanians believe President Obama acted more responsibly than Congressional Republicans in the debt ceiling debate.  However, a majority (52%) now say Obama does not deserve a second term.

PA Budget Debate

Toomey: Prioritize Debt Service

Pat Toomey Official Portrait

US Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA)

With one week to go before America’s August 2nd debt ceiling deadline, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) is drumming up support for a fallback plan.  At a Capitol Hill news conference, Toomey introduced the Full Faith and Credit of the United States and Protecting America’s Soldiers and Seniors Act.  “What our bill would do is it would instruct the Treasury secretary, in the event the debt ceiling is not raised prior to August 2nd, to make certain obligations priority so that they will be paid in full, on time and without delay,” Toomey stated.     

The legislation would prioritize the interest on America’s debt, Social Security payments and the payroll for active duty military personnel.  By placing interest payments atop that list, Toomey says the nation would not default on its debt, and not plunge into economic chaos.  “This bill is not and is not meant to be a substitute for raising the debt limit,” Toomey said.  “What this bill is all about is minimizing whatever disruption might otherwise occur if the debt limit is not raised prior to August 2nd.”

This comes the day after President Barack Obama and US House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) held dueling primetime television appearances.  “The American people may have voted for a divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government,” the President chided.  But, Speaker Boehner says the President won’t accept ‘yes’ for an answer.  “Even when we thought we might be close to an agreement, the President’s demands changed,” rebuked Boehner. 

That back-and-forth among Washington’s biggest powerbrokers set the stage for Toomey’s Tuesday news conference.  “At this late stage in the process, it’s obvious now to everybody that it is possible – increasingly possible – that we will not have raised the debt ceiling by August 2nd,” Toomey said.

If Congress fails to reach a compromise, and if there is a default on the nation’s debt, the credit rating agencies could downgrade America’s bond rating.  That, in turn, could lead to higher interest rates for everyone.  But, this is not entirely uncharted territory.  Senate historian Don Ritchie says the debt ceiling has been raised at least 80-times in recent history, and stalemates have become somewhat common since the 1980s.  “At some point they’ve always managed to work out an arrangement, even though there were quite often stark differences of opinion between the two sides,” Ritchie said, providing at least some reason for optimism.