Toomey Plan To Avoid Fiscal Cliff

Lancaster Intelligencer Journal

When is breaking a pledge not to raise taxes not breaking a pledge to not raise taxes?

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey may have the answer.

In 2011, Toomey was a member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction that set the Jan. 1 deadline for lawmakers to agree on budgetary matters in order to prevent automatic spending cuts and tax increases.

Against the backdrop of negotiations that continue in Washington to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, Toomey says he favors closing loopholes in the tax code, which he claims will raise $250 billion in revenue over 10 years. (He also would cut tax rates sharply.)

But closing loopholes would be tantamount to raising taxes by an equal amount, at least in the thinking of anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, author of the anti-tax-hike pledge that Toomey and many other Republicans have signed.

Toomey doesn’t see it that way, however.

Toomey would agree to increasing revenue — something Democrats have asked for — provided Democrats accept significant spending restraints.

By doing so, the nation would avoid plunging over the fiscal cliff that threatens to trigger tax hikes and spending cuts that many experts say will bring the country to its knees.

“What we’re faced with in just a few weeks is a massive tax increase,” Toomey says. “If I can help ensure that we don’t have that tax increase, then I believe I’ve fulfilled my pledge to fight for the lowest possible taxes.”

Norquist may disagree. But then again, Norquist doesn’t have to live with the consequences of his pledge.

Toomey’s proposal provides a framework for a solution to the looming fiscal crisis. Washington should pay attention.

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