As one of the 12 members of Congress on the Super Committee, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) had a front row seat for all the negotiations. Since the committee’s announcement late last month that they had failed to reach a deal on at least $1.5 trillion in savings, Toomey has been very vocal that we cannot now ignore our nation’s fiscal crisis and that a deal still much be reached.
He visited Heritage this week to discuss the fallout. We caught up with him in his Senate offices to discuss what happened and where we go from here.
During our conversation, Toomey admitted that not everyone on the committee was fully committed to reaching a deal. He shared that as they approached the final hours, a dramatically pared down deal was offered and rebuffed:
The response that came back was, ‘Well we don’t consider that revenue to count. Unless someone is getting a tax increase, we’re not interested in doing anything.’
That was very disturbing to me. Why should we say that someone has to be punished or or we’re not going to agree to cut even spending that we acknowledge is wasteful, inappropriate, and unnecessary? When you get to that point, you are clearly being driven by something other than what is fiscally rational or economically constructive.
Toomey went on to explain that while there should have been enough members to reach a deal, there were too many complicating factors.
Again, to be fair, I think several of the Democrats on the committee really wanted to find a way to reach an agreement. In the end, what they were not willing to do was to stand up to the most liberal wing of their caucus. And the pressure pushing them away from a deal was significant.
It was in part the President’s campaign. Let’s face it, it’s entirely predicated on running against a do-nothing Congress. … A second fact is there a lot of Democrats in this town who have long harbored the ambition of gutting the defense budget … And finally, in the absence of any agreement the default setting is a massive tax increase.
Now that the committee has failed, Toomey was clear that it is vital that the full sequestration cuts take place—but that they are done in a responsible manner that does not impact our security.