Harrisburg — In a press conference Monday that was not explicitly a campaign event, Sen. Pat Toomey laid out his case against President Barack Obama’s economic agenda.
Specifically, the first-term Republican Senator and former head of the Club for Growth said Obama’s plan to allow Bush-era tax cuts to expire for those earning over $250,000 per year would devastate Pennsylvania manufacturers.
“I’m not sure that everybody is as aware as these folks are painfully aware of how disproportionately the President’s tax increase will hurt manufacturing and small- and medium-sized business,” he said.
The event began on a somber note.
PMA President Fred Anton, a long time friend of the late Sen. Arlen Specter, asked a for a moment of silence at the outset of the press conference. Toomey, who Specter defeated in the 2004 GOP primary, praised the Senator’s tenaciousness. “Some of those qualities made him a tough political opponent, as I discovered firsthand, but they were also the qualities that made him a strong advocate for Pennsylvania,” Toomey said.
He spoke alongside four owners of manufacturing companies at the headquarters of the Pa. Manufacturers Association.
But Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a Philly-area Congresswoman, Obama campaign surrogate and potential 2016 opponent to Toomey, said the Senator was all wrong.
“The source needs to be considered when Senator Pat Toomey starts issuing ‘reports’ grading others’ economic policies,” she said. “Pennsylvania families should know where Pat Toomey’s own economic record stands. He staunchly backs the failed trickle-down economic policies that led to the financial crisis, devastating middle class families.”
And Obama’s manufacturing record, she noted, is solid.
“The fact is President Obama has passed 18 small business tax cuts, encouraging 31 straight month of private sector job growth, including 13,200 manufacturing jobs right here in Pennsylvania – the first growth in manufacturing jobs since the 1990s. Since 2010, Pennsylvania businesses have increased goods exports by 53 percent, including a 39 percent increase in manufacturing exports.”
Schwartz is often mentioned as a potential opponent to Toomey; his campaign is practically collecting an opposition research book on her already. However, her growing role in House Democratic Leadership may be too large to give up in 4 years.
Toomey’s report, viewable here, was prepared by his official staff and the event was coordinated by his Senate office rather than any campaign. But Toomey didn’t shy away from the politics of 2012.
Asked to defend Mitt Romney’s tax plan, which has been criticized by analysts who say its added revenues wouldn’t be match the gap created by lowering taxes, Toomey said Democratic critics were wrong.
“They haven’t done the math, and I have,” Toomey said. “The fact is, the value of deductions of and loopholes and write-offs and forms of income that are excluded from taxation altogether – those things are vastly larger in their magnitude than the 20 percent reduction in rates that Governor Romney has proposed.”
Asked to respond to the argument from former Pres. Bill Clinton that Obama’s move would simply return the United States to tax rates like the ones during his presidency, Toomey dismissed Clinton’s contribution. Instead, he said, America’s golden years in the 1990s was a result of dramatic economic changes (the information revolution) that happened to coincide with Clinton’s tenure.