Toomey Files First Bill, Challenges Democrats on Debt Ceiling

Who will blink first?

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) arrived in Washington, D.C., just a month ago, but he hasn’t wasted any time challenging Senate Democrats on a central economic issue: the debt ceiling. PoliticsPA reported last month on Toomey’s efforts to articulateconservatives’ debt ceiling argument, and on Wednesday Toomey unveiled his first piece of legislation in the 112th Congress: the Full Faith and Credit Act, filed as an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization Act.

Expanding on a previous op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Toomey’s bill would require the Treasury Department to service debt using current government revenue even if the Senate fails to raise the debt ceiling, according to a press release provided by his office. Toomey hopes that by removing the specter of default, Republicans will be able to leverage deficit reduction measures and cut excessive federal spending against the Senate Democratic majority and the White House.

As Toomey argues, “Failing to raise the debt ceiling is not a desirable situation and would be disruptive, but the worst thing we can do is simply continue the irresponsible deficit spending that jeopardizes our economic future.”

Of course, he may be wrong.

As Senate Democrats and the Obama Administration have forcefully argued, if the U.S. does not raise the debt ceiling soon, the government will default on its debt and risk “a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008.”

Even Toomey admits the possibility of default could be disastrous, which is why he’s hoping to avoid such a calamity by reassuring debt obligations through his legislation. “Even the threat of a payment default on our debt could drive these consumer and small business borrowing costs through the roof,” Toomey wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

Ultimately, Toomey is attempting to convince moderate Republicans and some centrist Democrats that raising the debt ceiling will not result in a second financial meltdown. This would give Republicans the leverage they need to win big victories on government spending levels.

While Toomey’s bill does not look likely to pass the Senate, the bill has garnered 18 Republican co-sponsors. More importantly, Toomey is lending his financial expertise to the Republican caucus and positioning himself as a leading fiscal conservative in the chamber in the coming years.

GOP rules the state’s delegation

Republicans reverse the Democrats’ 12-7 edge in Pennsylvania.

MICHAEL RUBINKAM Associated Press Writer

PHILADELPHIA — Republicans seized control of Pennsylvania’s U.S. House delegation on Tuesday, picking off several Democratic incumbents to command a majority of the 19 seats for the first time since 2006.

On his third try, Hazleton’s Republican mayor, Lou Barletta, ended the career of 13-term Rep. Paul Kanjorski in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Other Democratic incumbents who fell included freshman Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper of Erie and two-term Rep. Patrick Murphy in the Philadelphia area.

Republican Pat Meehan beat Democrat Bryan Lentz in the race for the suburban Philadelphia seat being vacated by Democratic Senate nominee Joe Sestak.

“We’re back,” said a jubilant state Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason, who personally recruited many of the winning candidates. “We’re back.”

“We decided two years ago, after (President Barack) Obama won, that we wanted to get back in the game in Congress, and we started recruiting candidates all over the place,” he said.

Republicans won 12 seats, and Democrats won seven — an exact reversal of the partisan makeup heading into the election.

Though Kanjorski beat Barletta twice before in a blue-collar, predominantly Democratic district that includes the cities of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, Republicans seized their best chance in years of knocking off the incumbent, a staunch ally of President Barack Obama.

On the other end of the state, Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper — elected in the Obama tide of 2008 — lost to Republican Mike Kelly, a 62-year-old car dealer.

Dahlkemper, 52, of Erie, knocked off longtime GOP Rep. Phil English two years ago, even as the mostly rural and conservative district in northwestern Pennsylvania gave Republican presidential nominee John McCain a 17-vote edge over Obama.

Pollsters said her vote for the health care bill hurt Dahlkemper’s re-election chances. In a sign of her peril, the House Democrats’ campaign committee cut back on TV advertising in the district nearly a month ago.

“The voters of the 3rd District have spoken, and I respect their decision,” she said. “I am proud of my record in Congress. I delivered on the promises I made on the campaign trail: to reform the health care system, take on the fiscal irresponsibility in Washington and strengthen the economy of western Pennsylvania.”

Republicans also reclaimed a 10th District seat they held for more than four decades before a sex scandal foiled the GOP incumbent in 2006.

The race pitted Chris Carney, 51, a Democrat seeking his third term, against Tom Marino, 58, the GOP nominee who overcame unflattering media coverage of his tenure as Lycoming County district attorney and chief federal prosecutor for central and northeastern Pennsylvania.

In the contest for the 7th District seat being vacated by Sestak, Meehan, 55, a former federal prosecutor and district attorney, beat Lentz, 46, a Democratic state representative, former prosecutor and Iraq war veteran.

And in Bucks County, 37-year-old Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy — the first Iraq War veteran elected to Congress — lost to the Republican incumbent he beat in 2006, Mike Fitzpatrick, 47.

A rare bright spot for Democrats: Rep. Mark Critz, 48, beat Republican businessman Tim Burns, 42, in a rematch less than six months after a special election in which Critz beat Burns to fill the seat of veteran Democratic Rep. John Murtha, who died in February.

PoliticsPA: Sestak ad hits Toomey on corporate taxes (VIDEO)

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Joe Sestak’s first TV ad criticizes GOP opponent Pat Toomey as “Wall Street’s Congressman,” saying the former Lehigh Valley congressman wants to ease the burden on large corporations while the middle class struggles.

It’s a familiar line of attack from Sestak, who has spent his entire general election tying Toomey to Wall Street, where he once worked. The ad buy is reportedly worth $110,000, according to the Inquirer, and will play in most markets across the state except the largest, in Philadelphia.

Toomey has been on air since July 6 and has also received third-party buys from, among other groups, the Club for Growth and the Chamber of Commerce.  The DSCC went on air on Sestak’s behalf about 10 days ago.

Sestak’s 30-second spot highlights a video clip of Toomey on CNBC advocating that congress eliminate corporate taxes entirely. Pulling a page from the campaign’s famous ad against Specter, which showed the senator admitting that “his change in party will allow me to get re-elected,” the ad repeats Toomey’s suggestion that corporate taxes be eliminated.

“The solution is to eliminate corporate taxes all together,” he said.

The ad frames the Republican as an ally of Wall Street, not the middle class.

“The middle class is struggling, but Toomey thinks it’s oil companies and Wall Street banks who should pay no taxes — zero,” a narrator says.

Update, 3:15 p.m.:

A spokeswoman for Toomey said Sestak’s negative attack is indicative of the fact he has nothing positive to say about his own candidacy while criticizing the Democrat for taking Toomey’s comment out of context.

“In the 2007 video, Pat was merely trying to explain that consumers ultimately pay for taxes on businesses through higher prices,” said spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik. “Pat agrees with President Obama’s own expert tax panel which proposed cutting the tax on businesses to make U.S. companies more competitive. Pat understands that a zero tax rate on businesses is impractical for a host of reasons, and that’s why he has consistently argued for lowering taxes on businesses to create jobs, and that’s a major difference between Pat and Joe Sestak.

“Pat believes jobs comes from cutting taxes and reducing deficits and Sestak believes jobs come from more Washington spending and a failed stimulus bill,” she said.