Allentown Morning Call
Away from the cyclical conversations at the supercommittee table, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey worked on his own deficit-reduction plan. He pitched it to his Republican colleagues, and last week they embraced it as the official GOP position.
It marks at least the third time in his short career as a U.S. senator that Toomey has tackled an issue on his own and then had his party coalesce around him. First, it was a preventive measure related to the debt limit. Then, he wrote his own 2012 budget. Now he has produced a proposal for the supercommittee.
In neither of the previous two cases did Toomey’s plans become law, but they did shape the debate. The same is true of his latest effort. It won’t be the final plan, but it set a marker for his team.
You can debate the policy, said Chris Borick, a political analyst atMuhlenberg College, “but there’s no debate that [Toomey has] played a prominent role that seems to be increasing as time goes on. His impact has been substantial.”
At the proposal’s core is Toomey’s economic belief that simplifying and lowering taxes will grow the economy, and in turn, a growing economy will produce more revenue. It would cut the deficit by a bit more than the $1.2 trillion required of the supercommittee, with about $700 billion coming from spending cuts. It would lower the top tax rate for individuals from 35 percent to 28 percent, and generate around $500 billion in new revenue from closing unspecified tax loopholes and reducing tax deductions.
The Zionsville resident appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss it.
“First of all, let me say, if I were king, this is not the plan I’d put on the table,” Toomey said. “But if we both went into our respective corners and had no flexibility at all, then we wouldn’t get anything accomplished. Number two, the plan that I put on the table is contingent upon pro-growth tax reform.”
Following Toomey on the program was James Clyburn, a Democrat on the supercommittee, who said the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office will not produce an official bottom line estimate of Toomey’s plan the way he crafted it.
“We’ve got to come up with a plan that CBO will score, not that Pat Toomey will dream about. And it’s a dream, I believe, that if you do this and if you do that, it will create all this dynamic growth. … Let’s put down the actual numbers, tax increases, entitlement cuts, and entitlement increases. And let’s find a fair and balanced approach.”
Toomey, whose plan was presented verbally to his colleagues and not in written bill form, did not specify which spending or tax deductions to cut. In a phone interview Friday, he said his preference would be across the board reductions in deductions as opposed to eliminating any entirely.
His plan equates to $1.50 of cuts for every $1 of new revenue, he said. It’s a huge concession for Republicans, he said, considering the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform had recommended $3 in cuts for each $1 of new revenue.
It’s true that to have Republicans embrace a plan that raises revenue at all is progress, but the tax cut for the wealthiest Americans turned off supercommittee Democrats who deemed it a nonstarter. Democrats also want $1 trillion in new revenue.
The panel has until Nov. 23 to make a deal.