Sen. Toomey Worries about Nation’s Fiscal Future

Speaking to the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters on Monday, US Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) told the crowd that America is headed down a dangerous financial path.  “If we don’t get off this path, we will have a financial crisis that probably could make 2007/2008 look tame by comparison,” he explained after the speech. 

He’s referring to the pitfalls of a national debt of $15-trillion dollars, and growing.  Calling it a disgrace that Democratic leaders in the US Senate don’t even plan to produce a budget, Toomey has introduced his own spending plan for the second straight year.  It would balance the budget within eight years, and raises no taxes. 

Pat Toomey (R-PA)

Pat Toomey addresses the media in Hershey on Monday.

He’s cautiously optimistic, but says a balanced budget will require presidential leadership.  “I think the voters are going to reward the candidate who’s willing to solve this problem,” Toomey says in reference the likely General Election matchup of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. 

While Toomey has not endorsed a Senate candidate in Pennsylvania’s primary, he’ll be monitoring Tuesday night’s returns closely.  “Among the Republican candidates that I know in this field, which is three or four of the candidates, I think all would be allies of mine in trying to restore fiscal sanity and insisting that the government have a responsible budget.” 

Steve Welch, Sam Rohrer, Marc Scaringi, David Christian and Tom Smith are all vying for the Republican Senate nomination, and the chance to challenge Democratic incumbent Bob Casey in November.


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.