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Toomey Signals Super Committee Bipartisanship

By Jared Edgerton, Contributing Writer

During the debt ceiling debate Senator Pat Toomey filled the role of the partisan warrior — vigorously advocating for hard line fiscal conservative principles. During a conference call with reporters yesterday, Toomey indicated that on the “super committee” he would be open to pursue a sort of grand bargain.

“[The ‘super committee’] absolutely has to have bipartisan support to pass the Senate and House,” Toomey said. “[We have to work in a] cooperative fashion and find common ground. [It has to be] constructive—with reducing the deficit and be pro-growth. We had a vote on a tax measure and not universally supported…a provision to eliminate the ethanol subsidies. It was a bad policy and indefensible. This demonstrates that there are a lot of opportunities.”

Toomey’s remark indicated a willingness to close tax loopholes — a hot button issue during the debt ceiling debate and certainly a provision that would generate Democratic support.

Although Toomey appears to be willing to close loopholes he has staked out a position against tax increases.

“I am not interested in a big tax increase, maximizing economic growth has to be part of this committee. We will not achieve this if we have a tax increase.”

Toomey explained that he will approach the super committee with twin goals, “addressing the deficit and pro growth policy.” Toomey explained that this could be achieved through entitlement reform and simplifying tax policy.

Last, Toomey said that he did not consider the “trigger cuts” an acceptable alternative. The “trigger cuts” will be used if the “super committee” cannot reach a compromise and will draw heavily from defense spending.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has called it a “doomsday mechanism.” Saying that it would result in, “dangerous cuts across the board.”

The “super committee” has until November 23rd to find a compromise and preempt the trigger.

Meanwhile, liberal advocacy groups in PA and in DC are calling on Toomey not to pursue a cuts only approach.

“We challenge Senator Toomey to focus on cutting the real waste in the budget: skyrocketing prescription drug prices in Medicare, wasteful military contracts, and subsidies for big oil companies,” Tom McMahon, executive director of the DC-based progressive group Americans United for Change said in a statement.  “Senator Toomey should focus on supporting programs in the budget that will actually create jobs instead of killing them.  Senator Toomey should focus on a tax reform deal that eliminates loopholes and subsidies for wealthy special interests so that small businesses and middle class families don’t have to pay more than their fair share.”

Another group highlighted this story from the Express-Times about an unemployment-themed protest at Toomey’s Allentown office, and called on the Senator to support job-creating efforts.

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