Pottsville Republican Herald
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey warned about 270 people attending the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce’s 94th annual luncheon on Friday at the Pottsville Club that uncontrolled spending and mounting deficits imperil the entire American economy.
“This is a very, very dangerous path that we are proceeding on,” Toomey, R-Pa., said. “This approach … only leads to a crisis. It can’t go on indefinitely.”
Speaking to a full house of local business leaders, Toomey, Zionsville, said the federal government’s economic behavior is equivalent to a family with an annual income of $22,000 spending $37,000 a year. Such a family could not sustain itself, and neither can this nation, according to Toomey.
“We need to seize this chance and get on a sustainable fiscal path,” he said.
Toomey is a Lehigh County Republican who was first elected in 2010 to replace five-term Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter. From 1998-2004, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives; he then served as president of the pro-business organization Club for Growth, and has advocated pro-business policies since his election to the Senate.
Those ideas found a receptive audience at the luncheon.
“It was a good speech,” chamber Executive Director Robert S. Carl Jr. said after the luncheon. “He was open and honest about what he sees as challenges.”
Toomey said economics poses the greatest problems for the country.
“The two big twin challenges we have (are) restoring some fiscal sanity (and) restoring economic growth,” he said. “We’re not even close to where we ought to be.”
Economic growth is “inching along” instead of flourishing, Toomey said, and he fixed the blame for that on the shores of the Potomac River, saying the federal government is discouraging businesses from making the investments needed to create jobs.
“The policies coming out of Washington are causing enormous damage,” he said. “It is rational … to be very cautious about how they invest.”
Four consecutive years of deficits exceeding $1 trillion has sucked much of the life out of the economy, according to Toomey. If no changes are made, entitlement programs and interest payments on the debt will consume every dime of reasonably foreseeable tax revenues, he said.
“The problem here is a huge acceleration in government spending,” Toomey said.
With the Senate refusing to produce its own budget proposal, a policy Toomey calls “wildly unacceptable,” he said he has produced one of his own that would result in a balanced budget within 10 years.
“At least it lays out a case of how we can reach it,” he said.
Toomey said one good recent step has been the enactment of the Jobs Act, which reduces regulations on certain smaller companies.
“It’s very constructive,” he said. “I’m excited by this.”
He said lawmakers need to go further and reduce or eliminate other regulations, such as those that have forced the closure of six coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania.
Responding to questions from the audience, he said that instead of reductions in the payroll tax, which weakens Social Security, Congress should work on comprehensive reform of all tax laws.
He also attacked the “Buffett Rule” proposal, which would increase the rate at which capital gains are taxed to 30 percent.
“It will be devastating for the economy,” Toomey said. “If it weren’t for capital, we’d all be subsistence farmers. It will take capital out of the economy.”
However, the right changes to the economy, including adopting fiscal discipline, reducing regulations and developing domestic energy sources, can change the direction of the country for the better, he said with an eye toward the Nov. 6 General Election.
“The 21st century can be another great American century,” Toomey said. “The outcome of this election is very, very important.”