Pennsylvania’s new U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey has a simple message for Pennsylvanians who may expect their politicians in Washington D.C. to get federal cash for local projects: “I am not bringing home the pork.”
The fiscal conservative now in the fourth month of his six-year term has jumped right into the nation’s fiscal battles — those frays include the federal debt ceiling, budget deficits and entitlement reform — and he’s sticking to the position he says got him elected.
“I campaigned and won on a platform of fiscal responsibility. If the voters do not like that, they can vote me out in six years. Until then, I will fight to balance the budget,” Toomey said in a recent interview. “Every day, people who represent government agencies visit my office and ask for my support. I tell them all, without exception, that we must slash their agency’s budget.”
While freshmen senators usually keep a low profile in the first year, Toomey has ridden his stance on “putting the government’s house in order” to national prominence. With the support of numerous Republican colleagues, Toomey introduced legislation for a balanced budget amendment to the constitution called the Balanced Budget Act.
He believes the amendment’s goal of “limiting government to 18 percent of GDP is realistic.”
“In 2007, government spending was 19 percent of GDP. My amendment only asks for a reduction of 1 percent from that level,” Toomey said. “I am not asking for it right away but in five years.”
Opposing the White House
With his Full and Faith Credit Act, Toomey has raised the ire of no less than President Barack Obama’s treasury secretary. Toomey’s proposal prioritizes the payments to bondholders of the U.S. government over other payments such as social security payments and military salaries. Secretary Timothy Geithner has called his ideas “harmful” in a recent letter to the senator.
Toomey is also standing firm in opposing raising the debt limit, which Geithner said this weekend Congress will do.
“If there is short term pain, it is worth it to get our debt under control,” Toomey said.