2018 Toomey in the News

October 10, 2018
Conservative Review
Why is Trump abandoning his blue-collar base for the ethanol cartel?

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Ethanol fuel pump

nattul | Getty Images

What if I don’t want 15 percent ethanol fuel in my car or in my lawn mower? Do we still live in a free country?

I have nothing against someone earning a living producing and selling ethanol the same way I have nothing against someone trying to sell Obamacare-compliant medical insurance plans. There is, however, a grave problem when government forces us to purchase the product, manipulates the market on its behalf, and mandates that no other product can be sold in that industry. The same fundamental flaw ailing Obamacare is the same problem we face with our ethanol policy.

Unfortunately, rather than balancing the interests of blue-collar jobs in oil refineries that are being hurt by these coercive policies, Trump is for some reason so enamored with the ethanol lobby that he is putting the screws to these very workers. This is a betrayal not only of free market policies but of his core promise of keeping blue-collar jobs in states like Pennsylvania.

Last night, President Trump announced at a rally in Iowa that the EPA would be lifting restrictions on the sale of E15 – fuel blends of 15 percent ethanol – allowing their market use above 10 percent blends all year, including in the summer, when some are concerned it exacerbates smog.

In a vacuum, conservatives should support any effort to countermand any unnecessary regulation on production of any form of fuel. The problem here is that by expanding the leverage of the ethanol industry with more aggressive ethanol blends without concurrently unshackling the oil refineries from the mandate to purchase and blend ethanol at all – the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) – it further puts the refiners at a disadvantage. This comes at a time when a major independent refiner in Pennsylvania has filed for bankruptcy because of the out-of-control ethanol mandate.

Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey lamented that this “legally dubious” plan is “not only imbalanced, but also risks worsening air quality and hurting consumers” and that the continued lack of reforms to the RFS “threatens thousands of jobs at Philadelphia Energy Solutions and Monroe Energy.”

In a sane world, it wouldn’t be too much to ask that we not force one industry to purchase the product of another industry, especially after years of subsidies and tariff protections for ethanol. But it’s worse than that. As I’ve written before, the EPA has invented a trading credit system out of thin air to further hurt refiners and empower the ethanol lobby by a government-created sub-market in the oil industry of speculators. Any refinery that cannot meet the Renewable Fuels Standard and dilute enough of its fuel with ethanol, which is practically any independent small to mid-sized refinery, must purchase RINs (renewable identification numbers) credits.

The mandate is set so impossibly high that refiners, who shouldn’t have to purchase any ethanol in a constitutional republic, couldn’t meet the standard even if they wanted to. There is simply not enough demand in the economy to support such a high target. Ironically, this is a case of one venture socialist mandate running into the tailwinds of another. Thanks to the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, another doozy from the Bush era, which requires that new cars achieve more miles per gallon of fuel, not nearly as much fuel is being used. While this mandate has raised the cost of producing automobiles, it has also succeeded in diminishing the overall demand for fuel. After all, new cars need less fuel to run. As such, refiners are struggling to keep up with the biofuels mandate because there is not enough demand in the economy for them to achieve the targeted 19.88 billion gallons in biofuels blends for 2019.

As such, they must purchase these RINs credits, which were never authorized by Congress. The big oil industry has an entire commodities market based on this socialist policy to trade credits. The bidding up of credits by speculators has put independent refiners, such as Philadelphia Energy Solutions, out of business. The cost of RINs has gone from a few pennies to over $1 in just a few years. Consequently, much as with CAFE standards, the big players aren’t hurt by it but stand to benefit from manipulating the new artificial market created by the government. It’s the independent refiners and their blue-collar workers who get shellacked. Philadelphia Energy Solutions, for example, spent $300 million purchasing RINs in 2017, double the cost of its own payroll! And for what? All for a random, unconstitutional, nanny-state mandate to benefit wealthy cronies.

Which brings us to the critical question: Through all this discussion over the ethanol mandate, why is Trump giving in to the ethanol lobby, which wants to control other people and industries and is doing nothing for oil refiners who merely want to be left alone? Nobody is pushing to get rid of this odious mandate completely, but why is Trump not even willing to ease some of the RINs credits? This is a violation of free market conservatism and MAGA in a big way. It’s neither conservative nor populist. It’s bad policy and bad politics.

Republicans are getting slaughtered statewide in Pennsylvania in the senatorial and gubernatorial races and are at risk to lose three to five congressional seats. The entire purpose of the steel and aluminum tariffs was to benefit Pennsylvania workers, but that clearly has not helped in the election and it is, ironically, unpopular in Iowa with the farmers. Trump is willing to violate free market principles in order to help some Pennsylvania workers by taxing imports and hurting Iowa farmers but then bailing them out with subsidies to ameliorate the problem, yet he is not willing to follow free market principles by merely lifting ethanol fascism mandates on oil refineries in Pennsylvania in order to back the ethanol lobby in Iowa.

Corn is king, indeed.

The statist RFS policy of the Bush administration and its forerunners in the late 1970s was enacted before the great American oil miracle with shale and hydraulic fracking – at a time when they thought we would be on the ropes for energy dependence on foreign countries. Now the gas and oil revolution is so strong that it is being used as a potent diplomatic weapon against Iran and the Europeans who seek to circumvent our sanctions. Why would we sacrifice oil refineries for the ethanol lobby when our national security is being buttressed by free market energy policy?

It is truly staggering to ponder the cascading odious effects of this ludicrous mandate. The misallocation of farm land, water use, cattle feed, and energy production – all for a lobby that refuses to compete without its officious tentacles strangling consumers and fuel producers with the force of law. The corrosion of our engines by this product that doesn’t need to perfect itself in a free market. The lower fuel mileage from adulterated fuel with less energy content. The billions in extra costs to the restaurant industry because of the higher cost of beef, thanks to scarcity of cattle feed.

The mandate has distorted the reality of every market so much that 44 percent of all corn is grow for ethanol, dramatically expanding the corn market.

Mr. President, this is as swampy as it gets. This is the Swamp vs. consumers, producers, and common sense. Trump said at the Iowa rally that his ethanol policy is an example of “promises made, promises kept.” Yeah, tell that to those laid off at oil refineries.

Personally, I prefer to burn corn on my griddle, not in my engine. If their product is so good and it doesn’t cause harm to engines or dilute fuel economy, then why don’t we let an unvarnished free market test its effectiveness? Don’t we the people have a right to decide?  Source

October 6, 2018
Morning Call
Pennsylvania senators reflect on deep tensions exposed in Kavanaugh fight

Pennsylvania’s two senators — Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Bob Casey — have been on opposite sides of the sharply divided Senate amid the bruising battle over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Their comments on how that nomination fight unfolded show the deep tensions regarding the nation’s top court, both within the Senate and the country.

Reflecting Saturday on the nomination process, Toomey expressed frustration with the intense partisan fight that immediately ensued when Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. Activists on both ends of the political spectrum mobilized to support and oppose Kavanaugh through outreach to voters and protests that continued outside the Capitol leading up to the final vote.

“There’s something deeply wrong with our perception of the court when a single vacancy produces such a brutal and bitter battle,” Toomey said.

Toomey dismissed the idea that the move by Senate Republicans not to consider President Obama’s 2016 Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, played into the current contentious nomination process.

He cast blame for the growing importance of the court seats on Democrats and liberal activists, arguing that those on the political left view the Supreme Court as “a legislature of last resort when they can’t succeed with their agenda politically.”

“As long as we have a huge segment of our society and a entire political party that is dedicated to using the court to advance a policy agenda, then we’re probably going to have these brutal battles,” he said.

Casey and other Democrats, however, direct similar blame at conservatives, who they view as also driven by ideological concerns in judicial picks.

“It seems that Republicans, especially this administration and this Senate, have decided that for the appellate court for the most part, definitely for the Supreme Court, everyone has to be a hard-right corporate ideologue,” Casey said. “That’s just not going to work over time. I’m not going to be complicit in packing a court with more corporate justices.”

When it came to President Donald Trump’s selection for the current vacancy, both Pennsylvania lawmakers made their positions clear early on.

Casey said before Kavanaugh was tapped that he would not support any of the potential justices on a list compiled by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Toomey announced after meeting with Kavanaugh in July that he would vote for him.

Neither Pennsylvania lawmaker serves on the Judiciary Committee, which has the first chance to sign off on nominees. They supported the panel’s decision to hear from Christine Blasey Ford after she came forward publicly with her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were both in high school.

Toomey said he would listen to and consider Ford’s testimony, and afterward stated that he found Ford’s account to the Judiciary Committee to be “sincere and moving.” But Toomey also said her account lacked corroboration.

“I suspect that something terrible did happen to her. I doubt very much she made this up out of whole cloth,” Toomey said Saturday, adding that “there has to be some corroboration or anybody can be destroyed.”

For Casey, Kavanaugh’s response to the accusation from Ford and later several other women raised more concerns about the nominee. He described the nominee’s demeanor during the confirmation hearing as “atrocious” and reflective of the partisan parts of his resume.

Casey stopped short of saying whether he thought Kavanaugh lied in his testimony: “I don’t think there’s any question that I have a lot of questions about that particular issue. But I’m certain about my belief of her testimony.”

Asked about any lingering effects for Kavanaugh and the court as he begins his tenure, Casey replied: “That’s going to be up to him.”

Toomey compared it with the sexual harassment accusation raised against Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings: “I do not think that has left a permanent cloud over Clarence Thomas.”

As for the Senate itself, Toomey noted that this week, the chamber also passed big bipartisan measures on the Federal Aviation Administration and the opioid epidemic.

“The Senate is managing to function,” Toomey said. “At the same time, it is true there’s a new tension that hasn’t existed before.”    Source

 

August 28, 2018
pghcitypaper.com
Sen. Pat Toomey highlights Pa. businesses hurt by tariffs in letter to Trump administration

Nine Pittsburgh-area manufacturers have been harmed financially and are looking for tariff exemptions.

Pat Toomey - CP PHOTO: RYAN DETO

  • CP Photo: Ryan Deto
  • Pat Toomey

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump declared to Pittsburghers that steel was coming back. Now as president, his tariff policies may be hurting companies that work with steel.

According to a list compiled by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Lehigh), the Pittsburgh area has nine manufacturers that are being harmed by Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium.

In a letter sent to Trump’s Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, Toomey writes that tariffs have done significant damage to Pennsylvanians.

“The decision to impose taxes under the false pretext of national security has significantly diminished the ability of domestic manufacturers to provide affordable finished products to American consumers,” writes Toomey. The senator has backed most of Trump’s policies. This letter marks one of his first and strongest criticisms of the president.

Toomey cites a steel-fabrication facility, NLMK, has paid more than $700,000 every day to comply with the tariffs.

Toomey’s letter lists 37 businesses throughout Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh-area business include: Allegheny Technologies Inc., Ameri-Source Specialty Products, Forms & Surfaces in Pittsburgh; Ardagh Metal Packaging USA in Carnegie, CP Industries in McKeesport, FS Elliot in Westmoreland County, Krupalu International in Coraopolis; and Pioneer Tool & Forge in New Kensington.

The biggest Pittsburgh-area company to be affected is the Shell ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, which will provide hundreds of temporary jobs during construction and 600 permanent jobs upon completion. Toomey says the tariffs could not only hurt its viability, but the hundreds of temporary construction jobs it’s creating.

“[Shell] cannot import the required steel products due to the section 232 quotas,” wrote Toomey. “If this situation is not addressed in a timely manner, Shell may delay its constructions plans and lay off hundreds of worker in the construction industry.”

Furthermore, the cracker plant is supposed to provide a boost to the region’sfracking industry, since the facility will process natural gas to create 1.6 billion tons of plastics per year. (Trump claimed to be a champion of the fracking industry while campaigning in Pittsburgh in 2016.)

Toomey, long a proponent of free trade, is urging the White House to provide exemptions to these Pennsylvania businesses. Toomey’s letter says that only about 12 percent of the companies seeking exceptions have received them. Toomey wants the commerce department to pick up the pace.

“I remain concerned that the [commerce department’s] exclusion process is unnecessarily burdensome, resulting in the delay of timely determinations for American companies seeking financial relief,” writes Toomey.

Trump took to Twitter today, scoffing at any idea that is tariffs are hurting the economy.

“I smile at Senators and others talking about how good free trade is for the U.S.,” tweeted Trump. “What they don’t say is that we lose Jobs and over 800 Billion Dollars a year on really dumb Trade Deals….and these same countries Tariff us to death. These lawmakers are just fine with this!”   Source

August 14, 2018
washingtonexaminer.com
Pat Toomey, the supply-siders’ field marshal in the Senate

Patrick Toomey

In a meeting in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office almost a year ago, Pat Toomey and Bob Corker reached a deal: They would include a tax cut of up to $1.5 trillion in the Republican budget.

Few realized it at the time, but their agreement was critical to the realization of the GOP tax code rewrite.

For one thing, by agreeing on a budget, they unlocked the special legislative procedure that allowed them to circumvent a Democratic filibuster. And by allowing for $1.5 trillion in revenue losses in that budget, they created fiscal space for the tax cuts they’d been dreaming of for years: Lower corporate rates, lower individual rates, a shrunken estate tax, and much more.

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The budget deal was just one of several Toomey interventions that proved critical to passing the GOP tax bill. “He was like the field marshal, so to speak,” said Stephen Moore, an adviser to top Republicans and supply-side evangelists.

Although he doesn’t have the national status of some of his conservative Senate GOP colleagues, Toomey has worked behind the scenes and used the levers of power in the Senate to enforce and advance supply-side conservatism during the Trump era.

On taxes, financial regulation, Obamacare and free trade, he’s managed to set the right edge for the Senate Republican caucus, all while representing a purple state. He has helped President Trump as much as anyone when Trump has pursued free-market policies.

But, unlike erstwhile supply-side conservatives who have accommodated themselves to populism this Congress, Toomey is not simply following the Trump train down the tracks. Instead, he’s providing congressional resistance to the president’s protectionist trade agenda.

AN AGGRESSIVE PLAN FROM THE START

While other Republicans were still simply finding their footing in the new Trump-dominated landscape, Toomey began drafting a plan for the unified GOP government to undo just about all of President Obama’s domestic legacy.

Toomey, having just won reelection in a come-from-behind victory, plotted for Republicans to undo Obama’s healthcare law, his tax hikes and his Wall Street reform, all without wasting time trying to gain Democratic support.

Even before Trump took the oath of office in January of 2017, Toomey began pressuring his GOP colleagues on the Senate floor to sidestep a Democratic filibuster and undo big provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, using the procedural tool of budget reconciliation. That tool allows legislation to pass with only a simple majority in the Senate, and Republicans would use the same procedure for health care and tax legislation.

The GOP would eventually fall short of repealing Obamacare or Dodd-Frank. But in both cases, Toomey shaped GOP policy and then later won more modest victories.

Senate Republicans’ doomed Obamacare replacement, for example, contained a major healthcare spending reduction won by Toomey. The bill would have tied federal funding for Medicaid, the low-income health program administered by states, to the number of people in each state. That funding then would have been capped to grow with overall inflation, rather than with medical prices, resulting in huge spending reductions over time.

Amid everything else that was going on at the Capitol at that time, few people registered the significance of what Toomey had done — although conservative columnist George Will, one of the few to take notice, described it as “this century’s most significant domestic policy reform.”

Republicans initially rejected the idea of much lower Medicaid spending. Toomey convinced them, or at least most of them, by arguing that it is simply unsustainable for a spending program to grow faster than the economy in perpetuity.

Ultimately, the GOP failed and the reform wasn’t signed into law. But Toomey would later succeed in repealing at least part of Obamacare as part of the tax bill.

TAX MATH

The tax legislation zeroed out Obamacare’s individual mandate penalties, thanks to an amendment added by Toomey and Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton.

The mandate elimination was also another idea that scared many Republicans, who were fearful of importing the politics of healthcare — a loser — into the push for tax cuts. Eventually the whole Senate GOP bought into the idea after the budget math was explained: Repealing the mandate would mean fewer people signing up for subsidized healthcare plans, creating savings that could be used for tax cuts.

Unlike the Obamacare repeal, the tax overhaul did clear the Senate and reached Trump’s desk, a process kicked off by the Toomey-Corker budget deal.

Before the deal, when Republicans were first turning to taxes after giving up on healthcare, their leaders shared a goal that the tax bill should not add to deficits. Any revenues that would be lost through lower rates would have to be recouped by eliminating a commensurate number of special tax breaks, credits, deductions and loopholes. Politically, it was a treacherously difficult task, one that eluded Congress for a generation.

Both McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan had called for such revenue-neutral tax reform. They did so partly for procedural reasons: Under the budget reconciliation rules, a money-losing tax overhaul would have to be made only temporary.

A hurdle emerged when some supply-side Republicans calculated that it would cost the Treasury at least $5 trillion over 10 years to enact all of the tax cuts that Republicans wanted, including the 20 percent corporate tax rate, estate tax repeal, and individual tax reductions.

Republicans could only come up with around $3 trillion in tax breaks they would eliminate, even if they killed the most popular credits and deductions. There was simply no way to close the $2 trillion-plus difference.

In response, Toomey advocated for the budget to allow for $2.5 trillion in deficits. Knowing that a revenue-losing tax cut could not be permanent under reconciliation, Toomey had been campaigning since the spring for a creative workaround. His suggestion was to lengthen the budget timeframe from the typical 10 years to 20 or 30 years — unusual, but not prohibited. A tax cut of that length, even if technically temporary, would be permanent for businesses’ investing purposes.

“We can’t let a fixation on deficit predictions or arcane budget rules get in the way,” Toomey argued at the time.

Corker, meanwhile, a self-described fiscal conservative, wanted the revenue losses to be $0. Seeing the differences between the two senators, McConnell in August directed the two of them, both members of the Budget Committee, to find a compromise.

After several weeks, the two settled on the $1.5 trillion figure. That was the outer limit of what Corker thought could be made up by faster economic growth if they went on to write a tax bill that sparked enormous new business activity. From the Toomey perspective, the $1.5 trillion limit would mean giving up some of the tax cut goals the GOP started out with, but would still allow for a lot.

In the end, the bill would include many, if not all, of the supply-side priorities. By the time Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, held a Capitol Hill press event in mid-September to demand a hard-right tax bill filled with a wish list of cuts, Toomey was already nearing the deal with Corker to achieve what he wanted.

BITING OFF AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE IN FINANCE

In the area of finance, Toomey didn’t get his way. The chairman of the Banking Committee, Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, chose instead to work with Democrats to pass a centrist regulatory relief package, rather than attempt to ram through a partisan rollback of Dodd-Frank.

Nevertheless, Toomey found other avenues to push the envelope on deregulation.

Toomey is “doing as much as he can behind the scenes to wring out every last possible benefit of having full Republican control in Washington,” one financial services lobbyist remarked.

For example, in May, Congress passed and Trump signed a measure ending an Obama-era crackdown on discriminatory auto lending by non-dealer finance companies, a regulatory rollback facilitated by Toomey.

The elimination of the regulation was procedural ingenuity.

The Congressional Review Act allows for Congress to strike down new agency rules through a simple majority vote, without a filibuster. What makes it complicated is that the auto lending regulation wasn’t officially a rule, and it wasn’t new. Rather, it was regulatory guidance that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had published in 2013 informing third-party auto financiers that they were subject to laws preventing discriminatory lending.

Republicans had long complained that the 2013 move was an example of Obama overreach, with an agency flouting the law to impose controversial regulations on an industry — auto dealers — that it was prohibited by law from regulating.

In 2017, Toomey found a way to take action. His office requested that the Government Accountability Office issue a ruling whether the CFPB guidance could be treated as rule for Congress’ purposes, an idea exhumed from the legislative record of 2008, when Democrats tried to kill a memo published by the George W. Bush Department of Health relating to the implementation of the State Children‘s Health Insurance Program.

When the GAO said that the guidance did constitute an official rule, Congress passed a Congressional Review Act resolution striking it down as if it were a new rule, with the eager support of the finance and auto dealer industries.

The maneuver raised a prospect that frightened Democrats: Congress could reach deep into agency archives and pull out old regulations to kill.

ALWAYS CONSERVATIVE, NEWLY POWERFUL

Toomey has always been a conservative lawmaker. He amassed a right-wing record as a congressman from 1999 to 2005, and then ran the Club for Growth, an outside group that backs staunch conservatives and opposes primary Republicans who deviate from low-tax, low regulation orthodoxy.

But now he is in a position to wield tremendous influence over fiscal policy, and has the experience to do so. His power could grow even greater next year, if Republicans maintain control and he ascends to the Banking Committee chairmanship, as some members and lobbyists speculate he might.

When Club for Growth president David McIntosh, then representing Indiana, served with Toomey in the House, the two new lawmakers would joke that their conservative efforts were undercut by higher-ups cutting deals in some backroom from which they were excluded. Last year, as Toomey was working on deals on healthcare, taxes and finance, he joked to McIntosh that the backroom is real — and the dealing is even worse than they both suspected.

Toomey “plays the inside game almost better than anybody I’ve ever seen,” said James Wallner, a former GOP Senate aide who now researches legislative procedure at the R Street Institute.

He works, Republicans said, not by trying to position himself in the ideological middle, but rather by staking out his own conservative positions, developing strong arguments for them, and then working to find compromises with his colleagues. He spends more time than most senators thinking through the issues the same way a debater would — testing lines of argument and preparing for rejoinders in order to present a coherent case for his positions — rather than just talking points.

Toomey was one of a group of four senior Finance Committee Republicans who took responsibility for explaining the tax plan to other Republicans and easing their qualms. The group spoke with senators individually, or when they came across a particular issue, the four would sit down with one or multiple members — conservative, moderate, or in between — in McConnell’s office to talk it through.

In mid-November, when Ron Johnson, R-Wis., announced that he would oppose the tax bill because it put small businesses at a disadvantage, it was Toomey who took the lead in working through the hold-up and saving the bill, said Moore. “People don’t realize how close we came to not getting that bill passed,” he remarked.

Johnson, who began his career as an accountant, was holding out for bigger tax breaks for businesses that file as individuals, such as sole proprietorships and partnerships. He feared that without bigger tax breaks, such “pass-through” businesses would be left at a disadvantage to the C corporations that were slated to get a tax rate of near 20 percent.

A C corporation, under United States federal income tax law, refers to any corporation that is taxed separately from its owners and it is distinguished from an S corporation, which generally is not taxed separately.

Toomey was able to speak to Johnson at at technical level. Their offices exchanged many versions of spreadsheets comparing effective tax rates for different business structures and scenarios. Eventually, Republicans found a way to increase the break for pass-through businesses to a size big enough to switch Johnson to a “yes” vote.

CREDIT FOR BEING RED IN PURPLE

The same approach that he’s used in the Senate has served Toomey well in Pennsylvania, a commonwealth much less conservative than his voting record.

“Pat Toomey’s political strengths in Pennsylvania and his success in the Senate really have the same source,” said Jon Lerner, the lead consultant for Toomey’s 2010 and 2016 campaigns. “They both come from his combination of super high intelligence and uncommon personal decency.”

Lerner suggested that Toomey wins support from voters who don’t necessarily agree with his conservative worldview because they see that he comes by it honestly and through study.

His success has been a source of frustration to state Democrats who have been unable to convince voters, so far, that he is as conservative as he is.

“Senator Toomey and his Republican friends have spent the past two years pushing a tax plan that hurts the middle class by increasing their taxes, stripping them of their healthcare and protections for pre-existing conditions, and laying the burden of debt on their children,” said Brandon Cwalina, a representative for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.

For Republicans, though, Toomey’s ability to amass a hard-right record in a purple state means that he should get extra credit.

“His job is harder because he’s got to do more to sell his views to his constituents,” said Phil Gramm, a former Texas senator and staunch supply-side fiscal conservative.

Gramm, a former academic economist, said Toomey was the congressional leader on free-market orthodoxy, in a group with only Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. He noted, though, that Hensarling faces little risk back home in the Dallas suburbs of being seen as too far to the right.

Toomey bought himself a lot of space on economic issues by departing with other conservatives on the gun issue. In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., he introduced legislation in 2013 with Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia to expand background checks. The effort cost him with some right-wingers and risked alienating voters in rural Pennsylvania, but “gave him credibility in the suburbs,” said McIntosh.

TRUMP AT A DISTANCE

Another key strategy in his 2016 race was to keep Trump at an arm’s length, infamously declining to say whether he’d vote for him until right before polls closed.

Perhaps no legislator has done more since to aid Trump’s legislative victories on taxes and banking. But now Toomey is poised for conflict with Trump over his trade agenda.

Last month, the Senate voted 88-11 on a non-binding resolution calling on Trump to get approval from Congress before imposing tariffs using authority supposed to be used for national security purposes. Trump has used that authority to impose broad steel and aluminum tariffs and threaten more levies on trade counterparties.

The vote won’t actually tie Trump’s hands. Republican leaders have avoided forcing members to take a vote defying the president.

Yet the resolution, authored by Toomey and Corker, presents a model for Congress to act if, in the future, Trump goes so far that reluctant Republicans have no choice but to cross him.

“It’s time for Congress to reassert its constitutional responsibility on trade,” Toomey said after the vote. “We’ve crossed the Rubicon,” on Trump’s trade policies, the Pennsylvania senator Politico in June.

It’s a particularly risky stance for Toomey given Pennsylvania’s heritage as a pro-union, pro-protectionist economy. Pennsylvania’s other senator, Democrat Bob Casey, has been more welcoming of Trump’s tariffs and less supportive of legislation to limit Trump’s tariffs power.

“For him to be out in front on things like free trade and sort of rejecting populism in favor of free market economics is a really big deal,” said Jason Pye, vice president of legislative affairs for FreedomWorks, a libertarian advocacy group.

Toomey’s partner on the tariffs legislation, Corker, is from a state that is traditionally more supportive of free trade. Corker’s also retiring after this year, and won’t have to answer for defying Trump to primary voters.

One reason he’s banded with Toomey on the issue, a person close to Corker said, is that they developed a particular regard for each others’ intelligence and improved their working relationship in the long discussions last year during the negotiations leading to the $1.5 trillion tax cut number.   Source

Aug 3, 2018
ukrweekly.com
Portman-Menendez resolution condemns Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on July 26 commented on their bipartisan resolution strongly condemning the Russian Federation’s illegal occupation of the Crimean peninsula, while reaffirming the U.S. policy recognizing Crimea as a sovereign part of Ukraine, after it was passed by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

“The United States continues to stand with Ukraine against Russian aggression,” said Sen. Portman. “As Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo made clear in his declaration yesterday, Crimea was illegally seized from Ukraine by Russia, and the United States must never recognize this illegitimate occupation. This violates not just the rights of the Ukrainian people, but also the fundamental principles of the international order that America has proudly led for more than 70 years.”

He added: “Crimea is part of Ukraine. Until Russia recognizes that fact and returns Crimea to Ukrainian control, the United States must maintain and tighten sanctions on Russia. I applaud the Committee’s passage of this resolution and urge my colleagues to support it when it comes to the floor.”

Sen. Menendez said, “This resolution shows the world that the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty is absolute. Now, more than ever, it is important to show our allies that the United States will stand by them when they face Russian aggression.”

The senator from New Jersey, who himself was sanctioned by Vladimir Putin for his continuing efforts to hold the Russian president accountable for his actions, also stated: “The American people know that ensuring the sovereignty of our allies is critical to our national security, and I look forward to having this important and timely effort adopted by the full Senate. The Senate should also move quickly on new sanctions measures that would increase pressure on the Kremlin to address this illegal occupation and ongoing Russian military hostilities in eastern Ukraine.”

The Portman-Menendez resolution was co-sponsored by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).   Source

 

July 16, 2018
TRIB Live
Casey, Toomey react strongly to Trump believing Putin over U.S. intelligence on election meddling

President Donald Trump’s statement Monday indicating that he believed the word of Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence agencies on meddling in the 2016 elections drew strong reactions from Pennsylvania’s U.S. senators.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey called Trump’s conduct “dangerous and reckless,” while U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey called for “tough new sanctions on Russia.”

During a news conference featuring Trump and Putin after their face-to-face summit Monday in Helsinki, the U.S. president was asked if he believed the Russian president or U.S. intelligence agencies on whether Russia meddled in U.S. elections.

“President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said. “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Trump continued to say that he has “great confidence” in his intelligence staff but that Putin was “extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

Casey, D-Scranton, said that Trump attacked and diminished law enforcement and intelligence agencies during the news conference and did so on foreign soil and in front of a “hostile dictator.”

“The president told the world today that he believes the word of Vladimir Putin over the findings of his country’s own intelligence and law enforcement agencies,” Casey said in a statement. “Instead of holding Vladimir Putin accountable in Helsinki, President Trump embraced him and in doing so diminished America’s standing in the international community and shamed the office of the presidency.”

Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, didn’t mention Trump by name in his statement but instead attacked Putin. The senator said that American intelligence agencies confirmed that Russians meddled in the 2016 elections and that it was almost certainly at the direction of the Russian government and Putin.

“It’s clear that Putin is a bad actor and should be treated as an international pariah,” Toomey said in the statement. “Putin insists that the Russian government has nothing to do with meddling in our elections. In that case, he should not object to the hackers recently indicted being brought to justice. Absent his cooperation in achieving that justice, the United States should impose tough new sanctions on Russia.”

On Friday, the Department of Justice indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers on charges that they hacked Democratic email accounts during the 2016 election.   Source

 

July 1, 2018
cbsnews.com
Transcript: Sen. Pat Toomey on “Face the Nation,” July 1, 2018

The following is a transcript of the interview with Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania that aired Sunday, July 1, 2018, on “Face the Nation.”  


MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re back with Republican Senator Pat Toomey. He joins us from Bethlehem in his home state of Pennsylvania this morning. Senator welcome to the program. You just heard Senator Blumenthal lay out his arguments as a Democrat his concerns about a Supreme Court nominee. I want to ask you. He has raised this question of if the special counsel’s investigation ever makes it to that court, whether this kind of nominee could become a problem given that the president will be selecting someone who could potentially decide on him.

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: Margaret, I think that’s a ridiculous argument that’s made as just an attempt to make wait for their real position which is that President Trump should never be able to confirm a vacancy. Look I don’t remember hearing the Democrats making that argument when President Bill Clinton, was in fact personally under investigation when a vacancy occurred. My understanding is that President Trump is not himself personally the subject of the investigation, even. So I think that is a non-argument and we needn’t pay any attention to it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about something you’ve been very vocal about lately. This is your concerns, your criticism, of the president’s trade policies. Today- starting today- Canada is putting tariffs on a number of American made products including chocolate, ketchup, up other items. How much is this going to cost your home state?

SEN. TOOMEY: Well it’s going to be harmful to my home state. So far this trade war, if it is that, and it seems to be heading that way has been of a modest scale it hasn’t done great damage yet but it has the potential to do that. And it would be an unbelievable pity to disrupt what is really a fantastic economy because of tax reform because of regulatory relief. We’ve got strong economic growth tremendous employment prospects. So I don’t want to see a trade war undo that undo that and limit the ability of Pennsylvanians and Americans generally to buy and sell goods and services with our neighbors and allies which is after all who this is targeting.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have tried and now failed twice to take back, in Congress, some control over the president’s ability to put these tariffs in place, citing national security grounds. So would you withhold your vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee in order to get the kind of vote you’re asking for on tariffs?

SEN. TOOMEY: Now- that won’t be necessary. I do want to have a vote to restore to Congress its constitutional responsibility to have the final say on the imposition of tariffs, especially when it’s national security that’s invoked as the rationale. But there is uniform, I believe, uniform Republican Senate support for us allowing that debate, allowing that vote. Not all of my Republican colleagues agree with me on the substance, but there was no Republican objecting when Senator Corker and I sought to have an amendment, sought to have that vote. It was a Democratic colleague– colleague reflecting concerns on the Democratic side. Their position is we shouldn’t even be able to debate this. We shouldn’t be able to vote. But here is the—

MARGARET BRENNAN: Has Republican leadership given you a date?

SEN. TOOMEY: –That- we will have multiple options, Margaret, where there is no procedural opportunity for the minority party to block the vote. We will have this vote, and Senator McConnell and my Republican colleagues are not going to attempt to block the- ability to have that vote. And we’ll see where the votes are. We don’t know that yet, but I think we should find out.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president did seem to back down a bit on these investment restrictions that had been floated for China. Do you see him backing down on the question of tariffs?

SEN. TOOMEY: So here’s my hope, my hope is that we can persuade the president to focus on the real problem on the trade front. The problem is not Canada. The problem is not Mexico. I mean with Canada we have a trade surplus. We have a surplus even in steel.

So why we should punish my constituents with the tax when they import these small amounts of Canadian steel makes no sense. The real problem is the really bad behavior of China, specifically the theft of intellectual property, coerced technology transfers. What we ought to be doing is make peace with our allies with whom we trade to our mutual benefit, and join forces and deal with the real problem and China poses a real problem. I think the president knows that that’s a real problem. And so my hope is that we can persuade him to focus there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be watching Senator Toomey. Thank you. We’ll be back in just one moment.   Source

May 30, 2018
Bradford Era
Toomey backs tariff relief bill

ALLENTOWN — U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., has cosponsored legislation that would suspend destructive taxes inflicted on the newspaper and publishing industries until the economic health of the industries is examined.

In August 2017, the Commerce Department and International Trade Commission (ITC) began an antidumping investigation of uncoated groundwood (UGW) paper from Canada in response to the concerns of one domestic paper manufacturer. Commerce has since made a positive determination and is now forcing American newspapers and publishers that purchase UGW paper to pay duties of up to 32 percent.

The U.S. is a net importer of UGW paper, so it relies on imports to satisfy demand, and Commerce’s action will have a severe impact on the publishing industry, potentially causing higher prices for subscribers, fewer jobs, and reduced circulation figures.

The bipartisan Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade Act of 2018 (PRINT Act) calls on the U.S. Department of Commerce to suspend the collection of duties and to conduct a study into the economic health of the U.S. newspaper and publishing industries. Following the completion of this study, the president would be required to review the study and certify that such a tax on imported UGW paper is in the best interest of the country.

“American companies must be allowed to adequately and fairly source materials, especially when those items are not produced domestically,” said Toomey. “The newspaper and publishing industries are facing unprecedented challenges and the tax on UGW paper could spell the end of numerous publishers across Pennsylvania.”

The senator continued, “As the Commerce Department and ITC continue their investigation, we want to ensure that this tax is actually warranted and necessary before imposing such a detrimental financial burden on downstream industries.”

In addition to Toomey, the PRINT Act is sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Angus King, I-Maine; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Doug Jones, D-Ala.; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Jack Reed, D-R.I.; and Michael Enzi, R-Wyo.      Source

 

May 21, 2018
The Hill
Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy that targeted racial bias

President Trump has repealed auto-lending guidance from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), revoking a rule that was put in place to protect minority customers from predatory practices.

Trump’s signature on a congressional resolution erases the CFPB’s 2013 guidance targeting “dealer markups,” the additional interest that is added to a customer’s third-party auto loan as compensation for the dealer.

The president signed the resolution in a private White House signing ceremony.

Auto dealers, banks and their allies in Congress said the CFPB policy was an unfair and unfounded attack on an essential and harmless financing tool.

The move caps off an unprecedented use of congressional power, as lawmakers had never before passed such a resolution to revoke informal guidance from a federal agency.

Republicans and a small group of Democrats voted to repeal the CFPB guidance under what is known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA). That law allows a simple majority of lawmakers in the House and Senate to vote to repeal a federal rule; it also bans the agency from replacing a rule with a similar measure in the future.

The resolution cleared the House earlier this month after clearing the Senate in April.

While Congress has used the CRA to repeal more than a dozen Obama-era federal rules since 2017, this is the first time that lawmakers have successfully overturned guidance from a federal agency that had not been finalized as a formal regulation.

The CFPB took aim at dealer markups in 2013. Under former Director Richard Cordray (D), the CFPB warned auto dealers that the use of markups on third-party loans could lead to a lawsuit from the agency under anti-lending discrimination laws.

The CFPB and fair lending advocates have pointed to several studies, including one that was conducted by the bureau, that found racial disparities in dealer markups. Those studies found that minority customers often paid higher dealer markups than white customers with similar credit profiles.

While the 2013 guidance was not a formal rule, the CFPB used the policy to launch a slew of lawsuits against automakers and lenders it said violated fair credit laws with discriminatory markups. The CFPB and Justice Department sued Ally Financial in December 2013 for close to $100 million in fines and damages, and also sued Honda and Toyota for tens of millions of dollars over similar charges.

Opponents of the rule questioned the methodology behind the studies that showed discriminatory markups and accused the CFPB of exploiting a loophole to circumvent its lack of jurisdiction over the auto industry.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who attended the signing ceremony, praised “the hard work of Republicans in Congress” to stop “a rogue Bureau using its unchecked powers to sidestep due process and harm the very consumers it is charged with protecting.”

The CFPB policy seemed immune from repeal until last December, when the Government Accountability Office ruled that informal agency guidance could be repealed under the review law as if it were a formal rule. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who requested the analysis, introduced a resolution to repeal the auto lending guidance soon after.

Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney in a statement praised Trump and lawmakers for repealing the auto guidance and said the bureau would consider submitting other similar policies for congressional review.

The repeal of the guidance is the second Republican reversal of a key Cordray-era CFPB policy under the CRA. Trump signed a resolution last November that repealed the bureau’s rule on forced arbitration, issued in July 2017.

The rule had banned banks and credit card companies from forcing their customers into arbitration agreements that prevent those customers from joining class-action lawsuits.

Updated at 3:09 p.m.  Source

Feb 28, 2018
The Hill
Trump to GOP senator: ‘You’re afraid of the NRA’

President Trump at a televised White House meeting on Wednesday suggested that Republican Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) was afraid of the National Rifle Association (NRA), seeming to borrow a talking point from Democrats.

During the meeting, Trump asked Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) if they included raising the age limit for some gun purchases in the gun control bill they co-sponsored.

“We didn’t address that, Mr. President,” Toomey said.

“You know why? Because you’re afraid of the NRA,” Trump replied with a chuckle. “It’s a big issue right now. A lot of people are talking about it.”

“A lot of people are afraid of that issue — raising the age for that weapon to 21.”

Trump’s reiteration of support for raising the age for purchasing rifles shakes up the debate in the Senate.

“You can’t buy a handgun at 18, 19 or 20 — you have to wait until you’re 21 but you can buy the gun, the weapon used in this horrible shooting at 18,” he said.

Senate Republicans said on Tuesday and Wednesday that there were not enough votes to raise the age threshold to 21.

The proposal had flagged somewhat after Trump seemed to back away from it after encountering strong opposition to the NRA.

Trump on Wednesday told lawmakers that he’s “a fan of the NRA” but that he would not let the powerful interest group’s opposition deter him.

Toomey disputed that his feelings of the NRA influenced his position.

“My reservation about it frankly is that the vast majority of 18, 19 and 20-year-olds in Pennsylvania, who have a rifle or shotgun… they’re law-abiding citizens,” the senator countered. “They have that because they want to use it for hunting or target shooting and to deny them their second amendment right isn’t going to make anyone safer.”

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Toomey dismissed as absurd the notion he’s afraid of the NRA, arguing he took on the gun-owners’ rights group in 2013 over the issue of background checks.

“I’m the guy that wrote the bill with Joe Manchin that the NRA opposed. I’m the guy they wouldn’t endorse. I’m the guy that hasn’t gotten a contribution from them since 2010,” he said.

Toomey and Manchin had introduced a bipartisan bill in 2013 that would have expanded background checks for gun purchases. The bill failed in the Senate after five Democrats from Republican or Republican-leaning states voted against it.

Steve Kelly, a spokesman for Toomey, noted that his boss has continuously supported the bill he co-wrote with Manchin to expand background checks.   Source

February 15, 2018
Open Secrets
Toomey is in the top 20 Senators in receipt of Gun Lobby Money

Top 20 Members

Candidate Amount
McCain, John (R-AZ) $618,113
Cruz, Ted (R-TX) $460,367
Ryan, Paul (R-WI) $342,564
Boehner, John (R-OH) $246,340
Rubio, Marco (R-FL) $244,019
Paul, Rand (R-KY) $231,587
Young, Don (R-AK) $197,272
Johnson, Ron (R-WI) $189,498
Thune, John (R-SD) $181,215
Cornyn, John (R-TX) $174,325
Toomey, Pat (R-PA) $167,051
Calvert, Ken (R-CA) $147,166
Blunt, Roy (R-MO) $143,543
Rehberg, Denny (R-MT) $138,959
Pearce, Steve (R-NM) $129,250
Chambliss, Saxby (R-GA) $128,950
Allen, George (R-VA) $127,556
Burr, Richard (R-NC) $124,550
McSally, Martha (R-AZ) $124,437
Sessions, Pete (R-TX) $122,776

The numbers on this page are based on contributions from PACs and individuals giving $200 or more.

All donations took place during the -1-All election cycle and were released by the Federal Election Commission on Thursday, February 01, 2018.

Source

Dec 29, 2017
splinternews.com
Pat Toomey Is the Quiet Face of Republican Radicalism
Getty

Pat Toomey is the Milford Man of the U.S. Senate. (He even hails, coincidentally, from Upper Milford Township.) Senator Toomey has all the vigor of a can of beige paint. If the Koch brothers had ever discovered an ideologically sympathetic sea cucumber, that sea cucumber could easily have followed the same career path as Pat Toomey.

Unlike many of his pals in the G.O.P., Pat Toomey knows how to keeps his head down. He doesn’t showboat on the Senate floor. He hides from his constituents. He only goes on the Sunday talk shows when need be. And all the while, he continues to quietly wage class war on behalf of his party and its corporate benefactors.

It wasn’t Donald Trump or Paul Ryan who carried the Republicans’ loathsome tax bill into the end zone, but Pat Toomey:

The final tax bill signed by President Trump lowers the top individual rate to 37 percent from 39.6 percent, reflecting one of many triumphs for the “supply-side” economic doctrine Toomey has relentlessly promoted through more than two decades in politics over the more populist ideology of Trump’s campaign.

Behind the scenes, according to aides, lobbyists and fellow lawmakers, Toomey played a major role in shaping the Republican tax overhaul — pushing not only for a cut in the top individual rate but also helping slash rates for corporations and repeal a key provision of the Affordable Care Act.

Because of the simple fact that he is a total bore, Toomey sometimes passes for a Moderate Republican. The beltway press has branded Toomey a “fiscal hawk,” because apparently “investment banker-turned-Club For Growth stooge who looks like one of the anti-mutant senators in a 2000s X-Men movie” is too long an honorific. Of course, as a fiscal hawk, whose purported main concern is getting the federal deficit in line, Toomey was instrumental in crafting a tax reform bill that explodes the deficit through massive tax breaks aimed squarely at rich people and corporations.

In a way, you have to admire Toomey. While his showboating colleagues were reading Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor, Toomey was lying in wait, biding his time until the next Republican president took office. He never took his eye off the prize: quietly, politely stripping away social protections for vulnerable Americans while further enriching himself, his peers and the donor class.

And let’s give him some credit. He knows exactly what the result of his tax policy will be:

 

It’s easy to get outraged at the Donald Trumps and the Ted Cruzes of the Republican Party, because people like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have a desperate, unfillable pit in their souls that makes them seek out negative attention at every turn. They are cartoonish villains, who use intentionally inflammatory and at times radically authoritarian rhetoric. But the real face of Republican policy radicalism is Pat Toomey. Quiet, polite Pat Toomey.

Voters aren’t outraged by Toomey, and his radicalism isn’t labeled as such by most of the press, because at the surface level, he is an utterly inoffensive human being. And if Pat Toomey has his way, he’ll keep his nose down, hiding from his constituents, not making any waves, not offending anyone. He doesn’t want you to get angry at him because he wants to keep his job. He wants to keep helping his friends, and he certainly doesn’t want you to notice him doing it.

Hey Pat Toomey: retire bitch.   Source

Dec 20, 2017
philly.com
‘I’ve wanted to do this for 20 years’: GOP tax bill a landmark for Pa. Sen. Pat Toomey

WASHINGTON — This is why Sen. Pat Toomey came to Washington.

With the final passage of his party’s tax bill Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Republican scored a landmark personal achievement — sharply cutting taxes in the aim of spurring economic growth, a goal that has driven his work in public life.

“This is a very big deal for me,” Toomey said in his Senate office Wednesday morning, wearing a crisp blue suit and pink tie. “I’ve wanted to do this for 20 years, and I’m really grateful to have this opportunity. This comes along less than once a generation.”

Toomey had a front-line role on the controversial plan, helping to write it, sell it in public, and defend it on the Senate floor. It was the culmination of work he has pursued since joining the House in 1999, in leading the conservative Club for Growth, and in his seven years in the Senate.

President Trump called out Toomey at a White House celebration, saying, “He knows his business.”

A former derivatives trader and owner of a small chain of sports bars near Allentown, Toomey made regular trips to White House talks and was one of four GOP senators charged with explaining the bill to colleagues at lunch meetings. When the first Senate version passed earlier this month, Toomey spent hours on the chamber’s floor, papers stacked on his desk as he jousted with Bernie Sanders, Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey, and numerous other Democrats who arrived to criticize it.

At one point, Sen. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) walked up to Toomey and silently pumped his fist in encouragement.

Toomey has long been one of the GOP’s most prominent voices on fiscal policy, pairing staunchly conservative views — often to the right of fellow Republicans — with wonky details boiled down to digestible talking points and a mild demeanor that belies his firm viewpoints.

“I don’t think this would have happened without Pat Toomey,” Gardner said. “He is somebody who has a keen intellectual grasp of the issues, but can explain it in a very common-sense way.”

Toomey also had a leading role this year in trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, pushing hard to roll back Medicaid funding. He pressed to make the tax cuts as large as possible, despite projections that they could explode the deficit.
The measure Toomey helped craft, however, is deeply unpopular, according to multiple public opinion polls, and the overwhelming consensus among nonpartisan analysts is that its largest benefits will go to the wealthy and businesses.

“It makes sense that the senator from Wall Street is doing everything that he can to pass this bill,” said Marc Stier, executive director of the liberal Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. “It makes no sense that the senator from Pennsylvania is doing so.”

Toomey said the bill would provide benefits across the income scale and would more than pay for itself by stirring new economic energy.

“The vast majority of working and middle-income individuals and families get a direct tax cut,” he said.

On the face of it, Toomey’s fervent advocacy of the tax bill contradicted another core element of his fiscal philosophy — opposition to deficits. Nearly every recent nonpartisan analysis predicts the tax bill will increase deficits. So do staunch deficit hawks, and a wide array of top economists.
The Penn Wharton Budget Model, for example, predicted $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion in new debts, even while accounting for economic growth. Most other analyses projected at least $1 trillion in added debt.

Toomey has opposed spending bills for much less. He voted last year, for example, against plans to spend $600 million on opioid treatment, citing the red ink.
On this measure, however, he negotiated a critical GOP deal to allow for $1.5 trillion in new debt to fund the plan and, according to the Washington Post, floated the idea of an even bigger cut to stake out a stronger negotiating position.
Toomey predicted a stronger economic boost than many analysts expect, saying 0.2 to 0.4 percent of growth above existing projections over the next decade would be enough to pay for the cuts and possibly cut the deficit.

“You have to be very pessimistic about America’s future to think that we can’t achieve that, and I am not pessimistic about America’s future,” he said.

Some Republicans are eyeing another long-standing aim for fiscal conservatives like Toomey: scaling back spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Toomey has long argued that they are growing too fast and must be reined in to be viable for future generations.

Democrats are ready to pounce if that happens, noting that Republicans have just undercut federal revenues. Toomey said it’s about spending.

“You can’t tax your way to a solution,” he said.

Source

Dec. 13, 2017
reuters.com
U.S. Midwest lawmakers will consider biofuel changes to help refiners

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers from states that produce corn for ethanol plants said on Wednesday they would consider proposals from Senator Ted Cruz of Texas to help the oil refining industry cope with the nation’s biofuels regulation, but would never agree on anything that diminishes the program.

The price of U.S. renewable fuel credits sunk to their lowest levels in two months amid ongoing efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration to mediate talks between the rival oil and corn industries over the Renewable Fuels Program.

Representatives of both sides gathered on Wednesday at the White House and it was agreed that Cruz would circulate proposals to corn-state lawmakers in the weeks ahead that could help oil refining companies meet the RFS, according to the offices of Iowa Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst.

The RFS requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of biofuels like corn-based ethanol into the fuel supply every year, a burden the refining industry says now costs it hundreds of millions of dollars every year and threatens to put some refineries out of business.

Cruz and senators from other states with refineries had asked the White House in a meeting last week to help bring corn state interests to the negotiating table to help find a solution.

The discussions have fueled speculation that the two sides could come up with a way to help refiners deal with the costs of compliance credits under the program without undermining the interests of the ethanol industry.

“The integrity of the RFS is Senator Grassley’s priority and there was an understanding expressed broadly in the meeting that any outcome can’t undermine the integrity of the RFS,” Grassley spokesman Michael Zona said.

“While we are happy to review any proposals Senator Cruz offers in the time ahead, we remain firm that our top priority in these meetings is ensuring that the spirit and the letter of the RFS is supported as intended by Congress,” Ernst spokeswoman Leigh Claffey said.

The meeting on Wednesday included staff from the offices of Cruz and Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, both representing the oil-refining industry. On the corn side, staff attended from the offices of Grassley, Ernst and Deb Fischer of Nebraska. Officials from the White House, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture also attended.

Prices of renewable fuel (D6) credits were traded at roughly 74 cents on Wednesday, its lowest levels since early October, according to traders and Oil Price Information Service. The credits were trading at 90 cents each at the end of November.

Traders also cited some unexpected selling by small refiners that were granted waivers from the program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“The small refiners were bringing the price down, but the talks in DC really added fuel to the sell off,” a trader said.

The RFS was introduced more than a decade ago by former President George W. Bush as a way to boost U.S. agriculture, slash energy imports and cut emissions, and it has since fostered a market for ethanol amounting to 15 billion gallons a year.

Refining companies – like Philadelphia Energy Solutions and Monroe Energy, both of Pennsylvania, along with Valero Energy Corp in Texas – that do not have adequate facilities to blend biofuels into their products are required to purchase blending credits called RINs from rivals that do.

They have pressed the administration to adopt reforms that would lower the credit costs, but the ethanol industry has successfully defeated those efforts.

Source

Dec 14, 2017
Daily Times News
Local pols react to net-neutrality ruling

In a 3-2 vote Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission repealed Obama-era regulations known as net neutrality that monitored service providers that connect users to the Internet.

In April, Congress voted along party lines to repeal the rules that would have prohibited Internet service providers (ISPs) from selling or sharing web browsing habits of its consumer base.

Thursday, the FCC voted to repeal the protections that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or creating a tier-based system that would see users pay for curated content. Opponents fear ISPs like Comcast or Verizon could throttle speeds of users in order to direct traffic to different websites or services.

However, Republican lawmakers have cited the rules as yet another example of government overreach, and have praised the repeal as fairer treatment of internet use. The federal government will no longer regular internet service like a utility.

“Congressman Meehan supports net neutrality and the idea that Internet traffic should be treated fairly,” offered John Elizandro, communications director for Rep. Pat Meehan. “He’s hopeful Congress will be able to work on a bipartisan basis to establish fair rules protecting consumers against throttling, blocking, and paid prioritization.”

U.S. Senator Bob Casey opposes the repeal, calling the FCC vote on Thursday “reckless.”

“Net neutrality helps ensure the Internet is free and open so consumers can access the content and services they want, and web services and content creators have an equal shot at reaching Internet users,” Casey offered in a statement via communications director John Rizzo.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro upped the ante on the doom and gloom regarding the ruling Thursday, saying “the vote by the Federal Communications Commission to gut Net Neutrality could end the Internet as we know it.

“The FCC action undermines free speech and is bad for consumers and business – especially startups and small businesses,” Shapiro continued in a statement.

Shapiro alleges that more than 1 million fake comments were sent to the FCC about net neutrality, and said he had rallied 17 other attorneys general to delay Thursday’s vote in order to allow state and federal investigators to dig into those fake comments.

“This huge number includes tens of thousands of fake comments issued under the names of real Pennsylvanians,” Shapiro said. “The theft of someone’s voice in our democracy cannot stand, and we must first get to the bottom of this massive identity theft.”

Shapiro said he plans to “take legal action to protect Net Neutrality,” believing the FCC’s decision “will face serious legal challenges.”

Visit badcomments.attorneygeneral.gov to look and see if your name was used fraudulently to influence the FCC’s process. The Attorney General’s office will investigate all reports made through this site and this information may be important to future legal action.

The chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in January, said the rollback of the regulations would eventually help consumers.

“We are helping consumers and promoting competition,” Pai said in a speech before the vote. “Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas.”

In Philadelphia, Comcast once had an exclusivity agreement with the city to be the only ISP in town. Once that 10-year agreement ended, Verizon began offering broadband services within city limits.

Comcast, the largest cable operator and the largest home Internet service provider in the United States, is also among the top contributors to political campaigns. In the 2016 election cycle, Comcast gave $12,594,527 in campaign contributors across all parties.

Comcast was among the top donors to the campaigns of Meehan, Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6 of West Goshen, and U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., all of whom voted in favor of the repeal earlier this year.

Also in the news Thursday, Disney moved to take control of 21st Century Fox’s media empire, which thanks to a write-up by The Verge, highlights all the merges that took place Thursday:

Disney now has a controlling stake in Hulu, which was a joint effort between Comcast and Time Warner to compete with YouTube. Comcast and Time Warner are now minority stakeholders in Hulu. Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which broadcasts shows on Hulu. Time Warner is in negotiations to be bought by AT&T, a competitor of Comcast. Time Warner is a competitor of both NBC and Disney. Comcast and AT&T control the network that people use to watch content from Disney, Time Warner, and NBC.
Source

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican who helped craft the Senate tax bill passed in the dead of night Saturday, called it a “tremendous legislative accomplishment” that will benefit “virtually all lower- and middle-income taxpayers.”

“We fundamentally restructured the tax code so American workers and businesses can compete in a global economy,” he said while speaking from his Old City Philadelphia offices Monday morning.

Toomey touted the finer points of the bill, which would double the standard deduction for the first $24,000 of earned income, eliminate the individual mandate on Obamacare and lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

“Our [corporate tax code] is a glaring outlier that makes the U.S. less competitive,” he said.

How the Tax Bill Could Impact You

[PHI] How the Tax Bill Could Impact You

Early Saturday morning the Tax Bill was passed in the Senate. The bill was passed on a 51-49 vote along party lines. NBC10’s Drew Smith has more about how the new tax bill will impact you.

(Published Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017)

In Pittsburgh, demonstrators gathered ahead of Toomey’s news conference in protest over the bill, which passed while most Americans slept.

The Senate bill inched forward strictly on party lines with just one Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, voting against it. Meanwhile, Democrats decried the bill, saying none of them had time to read the proposed legislation before voting late Friday night into early Saturday morning.

“The Democrats can say what they want,” Toomey shot back Monday.

The nearly $1.5 trillion tax bill gave President Donald Trump a major push towards fulfilling one of his biggest campaign promises. It offers the boldest rewrite of the nation’s tax system since 1986.

But Toomey has come under fire for pushing an endowment tax change that would largely benefit just one institution – Hillsdale College, a private Michigan school that has a reputation for being unfriendly to LGBTQ students and refusing to follow Title IX rules aimed at protecting students against sexual assault.

The two-term Republican spoke at the college in 2008 and defended his amendment by saying that it would benefit any private college that does not accept federal funds for tuition aid, like Hillsdale.

When asked by NBC10 why he focused so much energy on the small provision, which failed to be included in the final Senate bill, Toomey said the amendment had been “wildly mischaracterized.”

Instead, colleges like Hillsdale are “saving American taxpayers” by not accepting federal funding.

“It’s all the more important the endowment … be used to off-set the cost of tuition,” he said. “My hope is that more colleges pursue this.”

With the Senate bill passed and a House version pending, legislators must now reconcile the two before Trump can sign into law.  Source and video here  

Dec 1, 2017
politico.com
Democrats defeat GOP bid to shield conservative college from endowment tax

Four Senate Republicans joined with Democrats to strip from the GOP tax bill a last-minute provision that would have shielded Hillsdale College, a prominent conservative school, from a new tax on university endowments.

An amendment offered by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) — and incorporated into a package of changes Republicans unveiled Friday evening to their tax plan, H.R. 1 (115) — would have exempted all colleges that don’t accept federal student aid from the endowment tax.

Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined with Democrats early Saturday morning to pass an amendment by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) that stripped the provision from the tax bill.

Democrats had blasted the move as a giveaway to a school with ties to powerful conservative donors.

“This is a very limited provision written for a very special person,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said on the Senate floor, noting the school’s connections to the DeVoses. Betsy DeVos’ brother, Erik Prince, is a Hillsdale graduate, according to the college website.

According to the Hillsdale Collegian newspaper, DeVos’ father-in-law, Richard DeVos, co-founded Amway with Jay Van Andel. Van Andel’s son, Steve, is a Hillsdale graduate and Amway leader, and the Hillsdale graduate school of statesmanship was named in his honor after he made contributions to graduate school operations and scholarships, the newspaper said.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) questioned why the school was receiving a “special exemption” that was “airdropped at the last minute” into the bill. “I can’t find anybody else in America who benefits from this particular provision,” he said.

Of the colleges that report data to the federal government, only Hillsdale College would be affected by the provision, according to an analysis of Education Department data provided by a Democratic aide.

Toomey defended his provision, saying it was “perfectly reasonable” to exempt colleges that turn down federal money from the endowment tax because those schools impose less burden on federal taxpayers.

He also accused Democrats of mischaracterizing the exemption, saying it would apply to Hillsdale as well as other colleges that choose to forgo federal funding. Toomey declined to answer Democrats’ inquiries on the floor about which other schools would benefit.

The proposed tax on private university endowments is part of both the Senate and House tax bills. The House-passed version applies the tax to colleges with assets of at least $250,000 per student. Senate Republicans on Friday raised that threshold to $500,000 per student in their bill, further narrowing the number of colleges that would be hit by the tax.

Hillsdale, a private Christian liberal arts school in southern Michigan, enrolls about 1,400 students and has an endowment of about $528 million. The college proudly rejects federal funding and the regulations and requirements that come along with it.

The amendment that would have exempted colleges that reject federal funding from the endowment tax was co-sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and supported by conservative Heritage Action.

Spokesmen for Toomey and Cruz did not immediately respond to a request for comment; neither did a representative from Hillsdale College.

College and university presidents have lobbied heavily over the past several weeks to stop the new tax on university endowments. They argue it will take away money that schools use to help students afford college and invest in their campuses.  Source

Oct 24, 2017
Penn Live
Retiring Trump critic is ‘a friend of immeasurable decency,’ U.S. Sen Pat Toomey says

Just hours after U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., made a blistering retirement announcement, Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Senator is having his say.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, of Lehigh County, said Flake “provided a principled, conservative voice to civil debate. His presence will be missed by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”

Flake shocked the GOP establishment with an unscheduled floor speech on Tuesday, where he excoriated President Donald Trump without mentioning him by name.

From The Washington Post:

“We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that this is just the way things are now. If we simply become used to this condition, thinking that it is just politics as usual, then heaven help us,” Flake said. “Without fear of the consequences and without consideration of the rules of what is politically safe, we must stop pretending that the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal. Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused as telling it like it is when it is actually reckless, outrageous and undignified.”
“Flake’s speech echoed concerns and criticisms leveled in recent days by former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who also pointed to the coarse nature of the nation’s politics and the character of current leaders — subtle, indirect, but indisputable commentaries on Trump.
” … For almost a year, Flake has faced a primary challenge from Kelli Ward, a former Arizona Republican state senator who unsuccessfully challenged McCain in 2016 by raising concerns about his age and conservative bona fides. Against Flake, Ward raised similar questions about the incumbent’s political motivations and adopted the brusque nationalistic tone that Trump used successfully during his presidential campaign. She has sought Trump’s favor, but he has so far declined to pick a favorite Flake challenger.
At the White House, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed Flake’s speech as “petty” and said he had lost so much support in Arizona he would not have been able to win reelection.”


Here’s the full text of Toomey’s statement:

“Senator Jeff Flake has served the people of Arizona with integrity and honor in both the U.S. House and Senate. He is a friend of immeasurable decency and has provided a principled, conservative voice to civil debate. His presence will be missed by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I look forward to working with Senator Flake through the rest of his term.”

Source

Oct 21, 2017
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Sen. Pat Toomey needs to weigh in on the president’s behavior

Michael Gerson’s Oct. 14 column (“America Urgently Needs Republican Vertebrates”) should be read daily in the halls of Congress.

I call our Sen. Pat Toomey almost twice a week. I want my senator to say or do something about the daily lies, threats, inappropriate comments and insults: “Liddle’ Bob Corker,” “Rocketman,” other nasty names, mention of blood or bleeding almost always about women, references to low IQ, lies about Barack Obama not recognizing Gold Star families — the list of unhinged comments and lies goes on ad nauseam.

Whenever I send an email to Mr. Toomey, I get the standard response: Mr. Obama has ruined everything, tax breaks will stimulate the economy and benefit everyone, etc. (I’m still waiting for my trickle-down benefits from Reaganomics!)

When I get to actually speak with someone at Mr. Toomey’s office, they say that he has not made a comment or has not made a statement at this time. Why not? What is he waiting for? Mr. Toomey is in denial about this incompetent president, and his complicit silence is condoning this behavior. Mr. Toomey won by only 1.7 percentage points. His mandate is to cooperate and compromise!

People are saying that a sitting senator can be unseated for not being responsive to his constituents. Vertebrate up, Mr. Toomey!

DAN BONGA
Wilkinsburg
Source

Oct 10, 2017
philadelphia.cbslocal.com
No Charges For Man Who Asked If Sen. Pat Toomey’s Child Was Kidnapped

EASTON, Pa. (AP) — A man who was kicked out of a televised town hall for asking Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey an unsettling question about whether his daughter had been kidnapped won’t face charges, a prosecutor said Monday.
Simon Radecki’s question was inappropriate and offensive but was within the bounds of free speech, District Attorney John Morganelli said, overruling police who initially planned to charge him.  Source

Oct 4, 2017
Politico
Key GOP senators open to ‘bump stock’ ban
Republicans want to learn more about a device reportedly used in the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Top Senate Republicans said Wednesday they are open to considering legislation banning devices that were reportedly used to gun down scores of people in the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

Bump stocks — also known as “slide fire” devices, which work by rapidly “bumping” the trigger of a semi-automatic weapon to boost the rate of fire — were reportedly used by Stephen Paddock to kill 58 people and wound more than 500 in Sunday’s Las Vegas massacre.

…Even Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, the Republican namesake for legislation four years ago that sought to expand background checks, was unpersuaded that lawmakers should pass a bill barring bump stocks. However, he said in a statement later Wednesday that he is open to hearings on the issue.

“You know, I am very skeptical about legislation that attempts to ban features and particular guns,” Toomey said. “So I haven’t looked at it, but I’m skeptical.” Read entire article

 

Sept 27, 2017
Philly.com
GOP tax document reveals plan for massive tax cuts, preserves key deductions

WASHINGTON — Republican leaders on Wednesday proposed slashing tax rates for the wealthy, the middle class and businesses while preserving popular tax deductions that encourage buying homes and giving to charity, according to a nine-page framework they hope will eventually unify the party behind a proposal to revamp the U.S. tax code.

But the document, titled “Unified Framework For Fixing Our Broken Tax Code,” leaves many key questions unanswered. In it, the White House and Republican congressional leaders do not identify the numerous tax breaks they say will be removed to offset some of the trillions of dollars in revenue lost by cutting tax rates. Read more

Sept 26, 2017
Washington Examiner
The Senate’s $1.5 trillion tax cut is not what it seems

Senate Republicans have reached a deal that would allow for large net tax cuts as part of their budget document, but the agreement does not rule out the possibility of a revenue-neutral tax reform, one that raised as much revenue through elimination of loopholes and economic growth as it lost through lower rates.

Sen. Bob Corker, one of the parties to the deal, said Monday he has no intention of voting for an ultimate Republican tax bill that would add to federal deficits, even though some reports suggested that the deal would lead to the government losing $1.5 trillion in taxes over the next decade.

Instead, the Tennessee Republican said, the mysteriously detail-free deal he announced last week with fellow Budget Committee member Pat Toomey was meant to give “headroom parliamentarian-wise” for GOP senators to negotiate a tax bill within the constraints imposed by the Senate’s arcane procedural rules.

“There will be numbers of us, I would think, that would not want to vote for something that they viewed as going to increase the deficit,” said Corker, a self-styled fiscal conservative. Read more

Sept 13, 2017
Triblive.com
Neither Pennsylvania senator backs Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all plan

Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey didn’t offer his support to a Medicare-for-all plan Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed Wednesday, saying he is focused instead on stopping a new Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Sixteen Senate Democrats co-sponsored Sanders’ proposal, according to the Vermont senator’s office. The legislation would provide more generous benefits than the current Medicare program at an as-yet-unknown price.

“My first priority is protecting health care for Pennsylvania families, who are paying higher premiums and seeing increased costs because congressional Republicans and the administration are taking actions to undermine and sabotage our health care system,” Casey, of Scranton, said in an emailed statement.

Four Republican senators introduced a proposal the same day that would get rid of many of the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s subsidies, taxes and its requirements that most people have insurance. The proposal would give states more flexibility in administering health care and replace some federal funding streams with block grants, according to a news release.

Steve Kelly, a spokesman for Sen. Pat Toomey, said in an email that the Lehigh Valley Republican is still reviewing the bill, which was introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana; Dean Heller, R-Nevada; and Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin.

Kelly addressed Sanders’ proposal in a statement that referenced an Urban Institute analysis of a single-payer proposal Sanders put forward as a presidential primary candidate last year. The analysis estimated the plan would increase federal spending by $32 trillion between 2017 and 2026 while providing insurance for most of the people who are still uninsured.

“Senator Sanders’ plan to allow the government to completely take over health care in this country will cost Americans $32 trillion. Senator Toomey does not support this,” Kelly said in a statement. Read more

Sept 6, 2017
LancasterOnline
Smucker, Toomey agree with Trump that DACA needs legislative change

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker agrees with the Trump administration’s decision to seek a legislative fix for the Obama-era program that protects children of undocumented immigrants, the congressman said in a statement Tuesday.

President Donald Trump’s decision to “wind down” Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, comes as the president has struggled to determine the fate of the program’s nearly 800,000 recipients, also known as “dreamers.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the program “unconstitutional” and gave Congress six months to find a solution. Meanwhile, the government will not accept new applicants. Read more

Sept. 2, 2017
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Questioner thrown out of Toomey meeting to be charged

A Northampton County, Pa., man removed from Sen. Pat Toomey’s town hall meeting after he asked the Republican senator about nonexistent reports that Toomey’s daughter had been kidnapped said Friday he was disappointed to learn that police intend to charge him.

For Simon Radecki, 28, of Northampton, the decision to charge him represents “a startling reminder of what it’s like to live in the United States, or least Pennsylvania, nowadays, where someone can literally be arrested and taken into custody for asking a pointed question.”

Others found Mr. Radecki’s question startling.

DaWayne Cleckley, vice president of marketing for PBS39, which hosted Thursday’s town hall in Bethlehem, called Mr. Radecki’s question inappropriate and said he preferred the approach taken by some protesters outside, who stood peacefully and occasionally marched. Read more

August 22, 2017
IPWatchdog
Senator Toomey changes tune on exclusion orders and patents, supports Comcast against TiVo at ITC

Senator Toomey, a respected member of the Senate who is generally regarded as an intellectual and above the sniping that is so common in Washington, is the home state Senator for Comcast, whose corporate headquarters is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Toomey’s recent comments to the ITC appear to argue against an exclusion order for TiVo, which at first glance probably is hardly surprising to anyone. Senator Toomey is supporting a large constituent, which is to be expected. However, by doing so in this case Senator Toomey but seems to be directly at odds with a letter he sent just three years ago expressing “strong support of the protections afforded by 19 U.S.C. § 1337 (Section 337)” for a different constituent. Read entire article here

August 12, 2017
CBS Pittsburgh
Demonstrators, Politicians React To Va. White Nationalist Rally

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Demonstrators across the country took to the streets in response to the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on Saturday, as Pennsylvania politicians took to Twitter to voice their opinions.

Demonstrators gathered in Atlanta on Saturday in response to the events in Charlottesville. The march was organized by a number of human rights and religious groups. The demonstrators are calling on President Trump to condemn the rally and to explicitly refer to it as a white supremacist convention. Read more

August 9, 2017
WNPV
Toomey Believes Justice Dept. Should Handle Investigations

Pennsylvania U.S Senator Pat Toomey is hoping special counsel, Robert Mueller, will wrap up his investigation of Russian Collusion and whatever else he might be looking for in a timely manner.

Toomey was a recent guest on WNPV’s AM Edition.

“I’ve never been a fan of the special counsel. I’ve never been a fan of going outside the process our criminal justice system, our Justice Department and appointing someone, who then inevitably goes on a mission to find something, often completely unrelated to the topic under investigation.”

Toomey believes Mueller is honorable, but is concerned his investigation could take on a life of its own. Source

July 28, 2017
Mcall.com
Pennsylvania legislators react after Senate health care vote falls short

As the Senate headed toward a vote early Friday that Republicans intended to set up health care talks with the GOP-controlled House, the votes of Pennsylvania’s two senators were not in question.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey had spoken on the floor hours earlier, expressing his support for advancing a narrow Obamacare repeal bill that he hoped would be expanded to address Medicaid costs and other scuttled provisions when the two chambers met to hammer out their differences. Read more

July 25, 2017
The Intelligencer
PA leaders warn of health care bill’s negative impact ahead of Senate vote

Ahead of Tuesday’s U.S. Senate Republican-driven effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, three Pennsylvania leaders joined to once again denounce the health care plan and warn about its negative impact on the state.

“It’s a bad piece of legislation for virtually everyone we can think of,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Lackawanna County, said of the Republican plan, which U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh County, helped craft as part of a 13-member Senate GOP panel.

As he has done since it was unveiled, Casey argued that the plan would hurt the middle-class, seniors, children and the disabled mostly through deep cuts to Medicaid funding that would have a widespread impact on health care across the state. Read more

July 12, 2017
Post-Gazette.com
Pat Toomey, Democratic colleague seek to block North Korea’s access to financial markets

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey is proposing stiff economic sanctions to deter North Korea from developing its ballistic missile program.

The aim is to force North Korea to stop developing nuclear weapons by cutting off its access to the international financial system, said Mr. Toomey, R-Pa., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who are sponsoring a bill together.

Mr. Toomey doesn’t often wade into foreign affairs but became engaged as a member of the Senate Banking Committee. Read more

July 10, 2017
CNBC
An architect of the GOP Senate health bill says a new version to appease both sides is coming

Sen. Toomey: Not ‘Pollyannaish’ about GOP health care bill Sen. Pat Toomey: We’re in a ‘tight spot’ with GOP health-care bill
22 Hours Ago | 03:38
Sen. Pat Toomey says a new version of the Republican health-care bill is expected, and he hopes it can appeal to both sides of his party’s divide.

“We’ve got a new version that comes out today. We’ll get new scores from CBO. And there’s still a shot of getting to 50 [votes]. Mike Pence breaks the tie,” said Toomey, one of 13 senators who worked with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to craft the GOP’s Obamacare replacement. Read more

July 5, 2016
The Guardian
Activists cry cowardice as Republican senators shut doors to healthcare town halls

At a town hall in Pennsylvania on Wednesday night, the Republican senator Pat Toomey faced an angry protest over his role in the GOP healthcare bill, while Ted Cruz was heckled over his suggested amendment to the legislation at an event in Texas.

Scores of people gathered outside the ABC27 studio in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Toomey was holding what had been billed as a town hall meeting.

But in reality just eight audience members were allowed into the invite-only event, and their questions had been pre-screened by the news channel.

The closed-door approach did not endear Toomey to the sign-waving protesters outside, who accused the senator of not “having courage to speak to people who would be personally affected” by the Senate healthcare legislation he helped to write. Read more

June 28, 2017
Pitt News
Editorial: Toomey is either lying or misinformed, and it will hurt Pennsylvanians

Regardless of what Sen. Pat Toomey may say, the new Senate health care bill does cut federal spending to Medicaid, and does so in a significant way.

Medicaid is a federal program designed to provide health insurance to those who otherwise cannot afford it, and as of April 2017 nearly 75 million Americans were enrolled in the program. Currently, the program and those enrolled in it are at risk.

When the Affordable Care Act came into law, it greatly expanded Medicaid, both the number of people that the program covers and what is covered by the program. But both the GOP House and Senate bills as they stand would make significant cuts to a crucial program in our nation’s social safety net as compared to the current law.

However, Toomey is insistent that Medicaid isn’t facing any cuts, explaining his point of view in a CBS interview Sunday.

“I have to strongly disagree with the characterization that we’re somehow ending the Medicaid expansion, in fact, quite the contrary,” he said. “We’re going to continue that eligibility. No one loses coverage.”

However, directly contradicting the Pennsylvania Republican, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that by 2026, Medicaid will face a 26 percent cut compared to the current law with 22 million Americans losing coverage under the bill.

So either Toomey was lying or he’s just doesn’t understand the bill he helped write. Read more

June 28,2017
The Hill
Rift Opens in GOP over budget strategy

GOP lawmakers and outside groups are divided over whether Congress should lengthen the budget window to facilitate tax cuts.

Supporters of making the budget window longer than 10 years argue it would allow Congress to pass temporary tax cuts that could last for a longer period of time. Opponents think that tax reform should be permanent and therefore revenue neutral.

The idea of a longer window has gained support since Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) first floated the idea in early May, but the idea has yet to gain traction with GOP decisionmakers.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), whose panel has jurisdiction over taxes, said he’d like to extend the budget window but called it unlikely. Read more

June 27, 2017
Politifact.com
Toomey ‘conflates two things’ in latest health care claim

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania has made clear he supports the Senate’s new health care bill, which is expected to be voted on this week. The Republican said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday the plan would “make permanent” Medicaid expansion and that the federal government would “pay the lion’s share of the cost.”

“Remember, Obamacare created a new category of eligibility,” Toomey continued. “Working-age, able-bodied adults with no dependents for the first time became eligible for Medicaid if their income is below 138 percent of the poverty level. We’re going to continue that eligibility. No one loses coverage.”

What did Toomey mean by “no one loses coverage?” And how will the Senate plan affect coverage for people who became eligible for Medicaid under Obamacare?

Steve Kelly, Toomey’s press secretary, said that when the Senator said “no one loses coverage” he was referring to federal eligibility for expanded Medicaid and was not saying no single person would lose coverage.

Sara Rosenbaum, the Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law at George Washington, said Toomey “conflates two things.” She said the Medicaid eligibility category for adults below 138 percent of the federal poverty level was continued.

“But of course what he glosses over is what states will continue to cover these adults once the money starts disappearing,” Rosenbaum said. Read more

June 24, 2017
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Casey, Toomey square off from afar over Senate health care plan

HARRISBURG — At a rally Friday morning in the state Capitol, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey urged voters to help him and other Democrats defeat the Senate Republicans’ plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

“In the next couple of days, into the very last hour, please keep advocating,” Mr. Casey, D-Pa., told several dozen people gathered in the rotunda. “Please keep writing and marching and calling, and going on social media, and calling senators in other states as well as Pennsylvania. Keep going, keep pushing, because we can defeat this bill if we keep working together.”

He spoke a day after Senate Republicans unveiled their long-awaited proposal to replace Obamacare, a bill their leaders hope to bring to a vote next week. With Republicans clinging to a two-seat majority in the chamber and Democrats unified against the plan, every vote will count.

Mr. Casey said debate about the bill had paid too little attention to how the proposal would affect people who get their health insurance through their employers — more than 150 million Americans.

“If you’ve got employer coverage, they’re coming for you, too,” he said. “Because if you live in a state in the future where there’s a waiver, you will not get protection from pre-existing conditions.

“They can still make sure that if you’re pregnant, you’re not going to get the kind of maternity benefits that you might need. All that will be legal if the state you live in goes with a waiver,” he said. “So don’t think you’re in the clear because we’re talking a lot about Medicaid. That’s why I said this bill is bad for the whole country.” Read more

June 21, 2017
Time.com/Money
Meet the 13 Senators Deciding on Your Health Care Behind Closed Doors

The most closely guarded piece of writing this summer isn’t the new season of Game of Thrones —it’s the GOP Senate’s health care bill.For the last several weeks, media outlets have reported that 13 Senate Republicans have been meeting behind closed doors to discuss legislation that could lead to millions fewer Americans having health coverage—and make it hard for many people with pre-existing conditions to buy an affordable plan. While Vox and The New York Times have reported the names of the 13 members, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t even confirm the existence of the group in an email to MONEY, pointing instead to working lunches that include all 52 Republican senators. Read more

June 19,2017
New York Times
The Senate Is Close to a Health Care
Bill, but Do Republicans Have the Votes?

he 52 Republican senators have been meeting several times a week behind closed doors to develop a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. At least 50 of them must be on board for the bill to pass, and they could try as soon as next week.

Republican senators are arranged based on their ideology scores 13 of them, highlighted below, are leading the effort. Read more

June 1, 2017
Morning Call
Pa. officials react to Trump announcing U.S. exit from climate accord

In announcing that the U.S. will withdraw from an international agreement seeking to combat climate change, President Donald Trump pointed to places like Pittsburgh in explaining his rationale.

“It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit and Pittsburgh, along with many, many other locations within our great country, before Paris, France,” Trump said Thursday as he argued that the agreement would have “draconian” effects on the U.S. economy.

He later added that he “was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

Pittsburgh’s Democratic mayor disagreed with Trump’s assessment of the deal, which Trump promised during last year’s presidential campaign that he would abandon.

“As the mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy and future,” Mayor Bill Peduto responded in a Twitter post.

Other Pennsylvania Democrats joined him in criticizing Trump’s decision.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania called the move “a double-barreled blow to both Pennsylvania jobs and our environment.”

“Without action on climate change, more children will suffer from diseases like asthma and malnutrition,” Casey said. “Climate change is a serious challenge which requires action, not retreat.”

Gov. Tom Wolf responded that addressing greenhouse gas emissions, as the Paris agreement seeks to do, “presents opportunities for Pennsylvania’s natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency industries to grow and create new jobs.”

Republicans, including top GOP leaders in Congress, largely welcomed withdrawing from the climate pact.

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, whose 11th District includes part of Carbon County, said the deal would have been “disastrous” for workers and consumers.

“Ending anti-growth obstacles like the Paris Agreement opens the way to a brighter future, with America in the lead,” said U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, whose 12th District includes Pittsburgh’s northern suburbs.

“Senator Toomey supports the withdrawal from the Paris Accord as it would not have protected our environment and would have been particularly harmful to our economy and job creation,” said Steve Kelly, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-15th District, which includes Lehigh County and part of Northampton County, was on a congressional trip in Germany and did not have a comment.

But U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, a Republican from the Delaware County-based 7th District, described the decision as one that “diminishes America’s leadership role on the world stage.”

“The Paris Agreement isn’t perfect. But by abandoning it, America is relinquishing that seat at the table,” Meehan said in a statement. “It calls into question our commitment to protecting and preserving the environment. And it forfeits our ability to drive countries like China and India to reduce their carbon footprint and compete on a level playing field.”

Meehan is one of three Pennsylvania Republican congressmen who signed on to a bipartisan letter in April urging Trump to remain in the agreement.

U.S. Reps. Ryan Costello of the Chester County-based 6th District and Brian Fitzpatrick of Bucks County’s 8th District also signed the letter, which showed support for working with other countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Costello and Meehan both represent districts that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in last year’s presidential election. She also won Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located.

lolson@mcall.com

Twitter @LauraOlson

202-780-9540

May 16, 2017
wfmz.com
Senators Toomey, Casey react to report Trump shared classified info with Russians
President Trump is under fire for sharing classified information with Russia.
It happened last week when Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Moscow’s ambassador to Washington visited the president in the oval office. Trump told them about an Islamic State plot to use laptop bombs on civilian aircraft, sources said
Some officials say that information was classified and could expose the source of the information and how it was collected.
Trump said in a tweet he was within his rights to share that information. Read more
May 10, 2017
Philly.com
Some Pa., N.J. Republicans raise questions about Comey firing
Several Republicans from the Philadelphia region raised questions Wednesday about President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, though mostly in less sharp terms than Democrats.
Trump lawyers push back against Russia ties in letter
Sarah Huckabee Sanders is suddenly the star of the feel-bad story of the day
Rep. Charlie Dent, of Allentown, called the president’s surprise announcement Tuesday night “both confounding and troubling” adding that “it is now harder to resist calls for an independent investigation or select committee.” His statement added that Trump “must provide a much clearer explanation as to the timing and rationale for this action.”
Similarly, Rep. Ryan Costello issued a statement saying that “to date, the explanation for the firing has been insufficient and the timing raises additional questions. The Congressman from Chester County added, “my constituents must have assurances that a non-partisan investigation will yield independent, well-grounded conclusions, and I certainly support that effort.”
His comments echoed those of Rep. Lloyd Smucker a short time earlier. Smucker, whose district includes part of Chester County, said the firing “raises serious and legitimate questions about timing, intent, and the integrity of ongoing investigations. My constituents deserve answers and I hope to see a full explanation soon.” Read more
BILLYPENN
April 5, 2017
Pat Toomey gives 24 hours notice for next not-in-person Town Hall
Still no actual face-to-face with the people he represents though
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey announced today that he’s hosting yet another “tele-town hall,” meaning no face-to-face meeting yet for the thousands who’ve besieged his statewide offices in protest for months.
On Thursday evening at 5 p.m., Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, will take questions via phone, Facebook and an online feed, his office announced today. That gives constituents 24 hours notice — at least that’s a little bit more than the one-hour notice they got in February the last time Toomey held a town hall. Some 15,000 people listened in to that 40-minute call in which Toomey took 11 questions. Read more

April 4, 2017
ThePittsNews
Editorial: Toomey’s rule change proposal threatens bipartisanship
If Congressional Republicans thought they had gained the power to disregard the rules with their victories in last November’s elections, they couldn’t have been more wrong.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., just signed onto a rules change in the Supreme Court nomination process that might seem innocuous or necessary on its face, but will likely harm both parties. Read more
April 1, 2017
cpbj.com
Toomey talks defense, trade in BAE Systems tour
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey brought his message of support for increased federal defense spending to an appreciative York County audience Friday afternoon.
Standing amid a line of khaki-painted military vehicles, Toomey praised the efforts of manufacturing workers at BAE Systems as vital to national defense.
“York has long been an important manufacturing center,” Toomey told employees gathered to meet the Republican senator as he completed a tour of the West Manchester Township defense contractor’s plant.
BAE’s 1,250 employees “are an absolutely critical part of that,” the senator added.
A fiscally conservative Republican who was elected to a second term in November, Toomey in March was among the strongest voices praising President Donald Trump’s maiden budget proposal for adding $54 billion to defense spending. Read more
Click on money bag at the bottom of the Toomey page to see his campaign contributors or click here

 

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