Pat Toomey’s Greatest Hits

Jeffrey Billman at City Paper composed an amazing list of 66 Reasons Not to Vote for Pat Toomey. It is truly a marvel of one of the most detestable voting records ever assembled by a public official. Here are some of my favorites. And by favorites, I mean the ones that make me want to cry in the toilet at the thought of his election to the US Senate:

12 In 2007 and 2008, Toomey and Club for Growth vehemently argued against the reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which guarantees health coverage for low-income children not eligible for Medicaid. In 2008, the Club ran $200,000 in advertising targeting Republican New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson, who supported SCHIP legislation, because the proposal would “increase government spending by $35 billion, and massively expand government-run health care.” After President George W. Bush twice vetoed the SCHIP expansion, President Barack Obama signed it into law in 2009. The program’s costs are offset by $32 billion in tobacco taxes; the program insures nearly 8 million children. (Club for Growth press release, May 9, 2008; The New York Times, Feb. 4, 2009; CHIP Statistical Enrollment Data System, Feb. 1, 2010.)

13 Toomey opposed a bill that would ban housing insurance companies from “redlining,” or denying policies in certain (usually minority) neighborhoods. (Americans for Democratic Action 1999 Scorecard.)

14 Toomey opposed legislation that would block credit card companies from raising rates arbitrarily, because, he said, it “is a fundamental infringement on the free market reality.” (House Financial Services Committee Hearing, July 24, 2003.)

17 Toomey opposed a bill that would extend overtime protections to certain low-income workers, and forbid any government regulations that would strip workers of their overtime rights. (Americans for Democratic Action 2004 Scorecard.)

19 On MSNBC in April, Toomey agreed with the statement, “It was right for the steel industry in Pennsylvania to go away,” primarily due to outsourcing. “There was a rationalization that had to occur,” he explained. (Morning Joe, MSNBC, April 1, 2010.)

25 Toomey supports the Citizens United decision, which, according to polling, 80 percent of the American public opposes: “I’ve advocated for a long time that the best way to approach campaign finance is to allow unlimited contributions and require immediate disclosure.” (Philly.com, Oct. 14, 2010; blogs.abcnews.com, Feb. 17, 2009.)

26 As recently as 2007, however, Toomey wasn’t such an advocate of “immediate disclosure”: After the FEC fined the Club for Growth for violating its prohibitions against organizations known as 527s — which the Club was — endorsing candidates, Toomey reorganized it as a 501(c)4. One advantage of this move, he told members, is that “your donations to the Club will not be disclosed to the public.” (The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 19, 2007.)

What An Insider Does

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette endorsement of Joe Sestak is well worth your time. Here’s a taste:

Is there a lesson for Democrats in Mr. Sestak’s impressive if still incomplete comeback? Yes, though not one easily followed by others at this late date.

It’s taken some time, but it seems Pennsylvania voters are grasping that insider and outsider are more complicated labels than Democrat and Republican.

Mr. Toomey, the out-of-office Republican, can be counted on to fight for the haves over the have-nots — what an insider does. Mr. Sestak, the Democrat with a seat currently in the House, had the guts to challenge his party by taking on Mr. Specter. That made him an outsider, with all the attendant inconveniences.

Mr. Sestak’s campaign has reminded voters time and again that Mr. Toomey is too conservative for Pennsylvania, even taking into account the description of the state as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in between. Pennsylvania elects moderate Republicans, such as Mr. Specter and former governors Tom Ridge and Richard Thornburgh. (Consider former Sen. Rick Santorum the exception that proves the rule.)

A former derivatives trader on Wall Street before he entered politics, Mr. Toomey was more conservative during his three terms in the House, from 1999 to 2005, than 98 percent of U.S. legislators since 1995, according to an analysis by the website pollster.com, which relied on a computer analysis of roll-call votes called DW-Nominate. That score makes Mr. Toomey more conservative than Sen. Jim DeMint, the tea party favorite; more conservative than Mr. Santorum in his day; and about equal to the late Sen. Jesse Helms.

Recession-scarred Pennsylvanians are more scared than analytical. After all, their state capital, Harrisburg, has hired attorneys for advice on seeking bankruptcy protection. And there’s nothing appealing about Mr. Toomey to those who work hard and play by the rules.

PA-Sen: Express Times FAIL

The Express Times endorsement of deficit fraud Pat Toomey is the worst sort of intellectual diarrhea. Toomey gets the endorsement on the grounds that the editorial board thinks he is a deficit hawk, but there is not a shred of evidence that the policies Toomey is campaigning on would in fact reduce the deficit. On virtually every issue, Toomey is selling deficit-exploding policies as deficit-reducing ones, and the editorial board buys it hook, line and sinker. Even worse, the endorsement makes note of the deficit-exploding policies that Toomey supports, but then endorses him anyway. Let’s clean up some of this rotting filth and garbage.

First, the editorial board admits that Sestak is the moderate in the race:

Toomey’s Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, is running a credible campaign and offers a voice of moderation where Toomey often runs to the right.

But then they go in for some irritating false equivalence dismissing Toomey’s enthusiastic support for outsourcing.

Likewise, an ad suggesting Toomey run for the Senate in China degrades the whole discussion, reducing candidates to cartoon characters.

Toomey supports outsourcing. The Club for Growth and the Chamber of Commerce, which both spending heavily for Toomey, support outsourcing, and the Chamber teaches their member businesses how to outsource to China. These are very important issues, but the editorial board flippantly waves them off like there’s nothing to see here. There is.

Then on Afghanistan:

Unfortunately, neither candidate impressed us with ideas for an exit strategy in Afghanistan. Toomey, who should be harping about escalating costs, instead sounds more like a neocon, saying we must carry on to counter the Taliban threat. Sestak says he lacks the “metrics,” or benchmarks, to judge how the effort is going.

The two wars are major drivers of the medium-term deficit, and national security policy questions aside, there’s no doubt that an open-ended commitment is going to be brutally expensive from a budget standpoint. The Democrats are the party that is more likely to wrap this up sooner than the Republicans. So on the deficit question, that’s Sestak 1, Toomey 0.

Moving on to health care:

On health care, Sestak would work with the new law and try to improve it. Toomey is for repeal, and calls for medical savings accounts, malpractice reform and better competition among insurance companies. Those components make sense, but going back to the old status quo — with partisan gridlock under what might well be a divided federal government — would be the worst outcome. Sestak notes that loss of productivity from inferior health care is a threat to business and competitiveness, and wants to work to help small businesses deal with this challenge.

So following the logic here, repeal would be a bad outcome, and gridlock under divided government would be the worst outcome, but elect Pat Toomey anyway. Not only would Toomey’s plans do nothing to reduce costs or improve insurance coverage, but repealing the Affordable Care Act would explode the deficit. This is the most important question here if you care about the deficit. The deficit is fundamentally a health care problem. The ACA is the single largest deficit reduction package Congress has passed in over a decade, and the Medicare actuaries report that the program’s finances, and thus the nation’s finances, will be in much better shape for its having passed. Unrealistic as it may be, if Congress were to let the Bush tax cuts expire in full and stick to PAYGO and let the Affordable Care Act be enacted as written, we would not have a long-term deficit. Unsurprisingly Toomey opposes both. Sestak 2, Toomey 0.

On the Bush tax cuts:

Toomey wants to extend the Bush tax cuts for all and abolish the estate tax. Sestak supports continuing the tax cuts for those making less than $250,000, and says the first $7 million of wealth should be free from the estate tax, which he says would exempt all but 200 families in Pennsylvania.

This is well-worn territory here on the blog, but it’s always worth saying again that extending the Bush tax cuts and abolishing the estate tax would each add trillions to the deficit over the next several decades. Counting each separately, that’s Sestak 4, Toomey 0.

More deficit-exploding policies:

Toomey wants to roll back corporate taxes; he hammers Sestak for voting for the bank bailout and stimulus package. He admits some banks would have failed without the bailout, but says that pain would have allowed for a better recovery. He says Sestak’s plan to raise taxes on overseas operations will encourage the hoarding of capital outside the U.S. and be an incentive to move corporate headquarters overseas.

Toomey thinks corporations should pay zero taxes. That’s lost revenue, so higher deficit. We also know that allowing the whole financial sector to go the way of Lehman Brothers would have certainly resulted in a full-blown Depression, and thus a higher deficit from slower growth. The last argument fundamentally doesn’t make sense. Taxing corporate tax havens that are already overseas will be an incentive to move headquarters overseas? They’re already overseas! With the loophole, less revenue and higher deficit. Without the loophole, more revenue and lower deficit. Sestak 8, Toomey 0.

The editorial board then points to Toomey’s support for abolishing earmarks, which account for less than 1% of federal spending. Great, I guess, but that doesn’t do a damn thing about the deficit. Final deficit credibility score: Sestak 8, Toomey .01.

In closing, they point to some dumb political stunts Toomey pulled in the House, including a “filibuster” -even though there’s no such thing as a filibuster in the House- as evidence of Toomey’s tenacity “tenanciousness” on spending. This is actually a great example of Toomey’s utter lack of credibility on the deficit. If you’re looking for a lot of preening, a lot of posturing, and a lot of dumb theatre, even if there’s no substance behind it at all, Pat Toomey is your candidate.

What’s ultimately most disappointing here is that while the editorial board is easily snowed by deficit-exploding policies masquerading as deficit-reducing ones, they ignore the most important issue: growth. The denominator in the debt-to-GDP ratio is much more important than the numerator. If GDP is growing faster than spending, then the debt is not a problem. And Pat Toomey has even less of a plan to speed up growth than he does to cut spending.

Deficit Fraud Toomey Repeats Myth That Tax Cuts Increase Revenue

This must be some of that brave hucksterism hawkery on the deficit that so impressed the Express Times editorial board:

Some Republican Senate candidates have suggested that extending the Bush tax cuts — which are scheduled to expire at the end of the year — will actually be good for the country’s bottom line, as the economic growth that results will more than offset the trillions of dollars in lost revenue. “By extending tax cuts you pay down the deficit, you grow the economy by giving people more money,” said Colorado Republican Ken Buck.

Today, on Fox News Sunday, Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate nominee Pat Toomey joined this club, telling Fox’s Chris Wallace that “it’s not clear” that extending the Bush tax cuts — while also lowering the corporate tax rate — would increase the deficit:

WALLACE: If you extend all the Bush tax cuts, if you were to cut, not eliminate, but cut the corporate tax rate — although that would produce some economic growth and therefore some increased revenues — there no question that would add trillions of dollars to the deficit. The question becomes, what are you going to cut? What are you going to cut in spending, what are you going to cut in entitlements, and I’d ask you to be specific sir.

TOOMEY: Sure. But first of all, it’s not clear that that would add trillions to the deficit, because I really believe that if we expand the base of the economy, which we could do by selectively lowering some taxes, you have a broader base on which to apply the tax.

Watch it:

As American Action Forum president Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who was formerly the Congressional Budget Office director and an adviser to the McCain 2008 presidential campaign, said, “there is no serious research evidence to suggest” that tax cuts pay for themselves. Extending the Bush tax cuts costs more than $3 trillion over ten years, while extending the cuts just for the wealthiest two percent of Americans costs $830 billion over that period.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Bush-era tax cuts are one of the largest drivers of the country’s long-term structural deficit. And, contrary to Toomey’s assertion, simply lowering taxes doesn’t broaden the tax base (which is accomplished by removing subsidies, loopholes, and giveaways in the tax code).

Toomey was also wrong to suggest that the Bush tax cuts increased revenue: in 2000, the government collected 10 percent of GDP in personal income taxes, a percentage that has never been collected since the Bush tax cuts. Plus, the historical record of the Bush tax cuts suggests that they won’t create the sort of economic growth that Toomey is counting on. In fact, following the Bush tax cuts, the country “registered the weakest jobs and income growth in the post-war period”:

Overall monthly job growth was the worst of any cycle since at least February 1945, and household income growth was negative for the first cycle since tracking began in 1967. Women reversed employment gains of previous cycles. And for African Americans, the worst job growth on record was matched by an unprecedented increase in poverty.

On a final note, Toomey never did identify anything he would cut from the budget to offset the cost of his budget-busting tax cuts.

Voters, Media Finally Realize How Nutty Pat Toomey Is

Voters, and the mainstream media, are finally catching on that Pat Toomey is just as loony as Christine O’Donnell, Rand Paul, and Sharon Angle. Colby Itkowitz reports:

Joe Sestak and fellow Democrats want to make Pat Toomey the fringe candidate by pointing out he voted with Rick Santorum, is being backed by Sarah Palin and once ran Club for Growth, a group that backs two of the nation’s more colorful candidates, Rand Paul in Kentucky and Sharron Angle in Nevada.

Suddenly, it seems to be working.

Fresh poll numbers, including the Morning Call/Muhlenberg College Tracker, show the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race to be a virtual tie after months of Toomey enjoying a healthy lead.

What’s unclear is whether it will last and what Toomey, a conservative Republican, can do about it, except highlight Sestak’s liberal record and views as a Delaware County congressman.

At their first debate Wednesday night, Sestak showed that his endgame strategy is turning voters off to Toomey by linking him to polarizing figures like Palin or Christine O’Donnell in Delaware. He used their names a number of times in his answers. Toomey, after the debate, called it “silly.”

But it’s not silly if it’s effective.

Larry Ceisler, a Democratic consultant in Philadelphia, suspects Democratic voters may be paying closer attention now. They may be disappointed in President Barack Obama, but they are afraid of the alternative after hearing about controversial Republicans such as O’Donnell, or Paul, or Angle.

“Toomey’s challenge is he can get thrown in with the O’Donnells and the Palins or he can find a way to distinguish himself [in voters' minds],” Ceisler said. “If he loses this race, it’ll be on the social, cultural issues.”

Toomey accepted Sarah Palin’s endorsement yesterday, and defended his plan to privatize Social Security at last night’s debate. I’m glad that Joe Sestak zeroed in on Toomey’s discredited zombie economic ideas, but if it’s social issues that are going to take Toomey down, whatever. The Quinnipiac poll out this morning also shows the race a dead heat, and Pollster has moved it to Toss-up. Good reading on last night’s debate here, here, and here.

Club for Growth SuperPAC Goes All-In for Pat Toomey

On the heels of today’s poll showing the PA Senate race tied, Club for Growth – of Social Security privatization-boosting fameis going all-in for Pat Toomey through their SuperPAC. From Jesse Zwick:

An hour ago I mused about what the Club for Growth, which has spent over a million dollars opposing Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), might do about the latest poll numbers to come out of the Pennsylvania Senate race that show him virtually tied with former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). A half hour later, Club for Growth Action, the new Super PAC formed by the Club that can solicit and spend unlimited amounts of money on independent ad expenditures, sent out an appeal to its supporters on behalf of Toomey, announcing it had responded by expanding its current ad buy in the state:
Pat Toomey isn’t some fair weather economic conservative who will abandon pro-growth principles when the pressure is on. Pat Toomey is a true believer, and a true friend to economic freedom.

Pat Toomey is the rare kind of dynamic leader who can persuade independent voters that the path to prosperity is through less government, lower taxes, and freer markets. He won’t only represent our principles, he will expand the number of Americans who hold them. [...]

Our new investment in the Pennsylvania Senate race is big, over $700,000, but we can and should make it bigger.

With your help today, we can add to our buy and put it on more stations in more markets from now until Election Day. Every dollar you can contribute is another audience, another market, another voter we can reach.

The Club for Growth was one of the first groups, along with the Democrat-leaning Commonsense Ten, to petition the FEC to form a Political Action Committee that could solicit unlimited contributions in the wake of court rulings on Citizens United and other court cases that followed it. The Club hasn’t been the biggest national player in this year’s election cycle, but it’s doubling down in a big way on its favorite candidate — and former president — in Pennsylvania, and it’s hoping to use its ability to raise unlimited cash from rich and corporate donors to its advantage.

“As you know, there are NO CONTRIBUTION LIMITS for Club for Growth Action, and it can accept both personal and corporate contributions,” Club for Growth president Chris Chocola reminds supporters in today’s appeal. “Every dollar you can spare is another dollar closer to victory.”

As always, “true believer” should be read to mean nuttiest rightwinger there is.

PA Senate Race Tied As Dem Majority Wakes Up

PPP says Joe Sestak has the Big Mo’. Jesse Zwick reports:

Can Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) make two improbable comebacks in one election season? Some internal polls released last week indicated that he was closing the gap considerably in his race to catch former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), but they were quickly dismissed by pundits who pointed to a Rasmussen poll that had him trailing by a solid ten points. The New York Times’ Nate Silver asked why anyone took internal polls seriously anyway and said that while primary polling could be very volatile, you don’t usually see candidates making big last-minute comebacks in a general election with fewer swing voters and better polling methods.

But sure enough, a new Public Policy Polling survey released today has the two candidates virtually tied.
The main reason, says PPP, is that Pennsylvania’s sizable Democratic base, which enjoys nearly a one million vote registration advantage over Republicans, appears to finally be waking up:

Democratic voters are getting more engaged as election day moves closer. Barack Obama won Pennsylvania by 10 points in 2008 but our August survey in the state found those planning to vote in November had actually supported John McCain by a point in 2008, suggesting a massive drop off in Democratic turnout. Now those saying they will vote next month supported Obama by 4 points in 2008. The enthusiasm gap is still there but it’s not as severe a problem for Democrats as it was 2 months ago.

Of course, many of those Obama voters are now not so sure about their choice: 51% of Pennsylvania voters disapprove of the job the president is doing, while only 43% approve. That makes Sestak’s climb that much tougher, but he’s been making real strides among independent voters since August as well. Whether this is because independent voters are taking to Sestak or simply becoming more familiar with some of Toomey’s more extreme views, he’s polling better than most Democrats among this group as well, according to PPP.

Naysayers will call the poll as an outlier, but it will likely generate much-needed enthusiasm among Democrats in the state. And having followed Sestak around on the campaign trail during his primary run, I can testify to the fact that the man is tireless and seems to possess the magical ability to finish strong in a long and grueling race.

As Chris Bowers has noted, Sestak was always going to hold off on spending until the last minute in order to crest at exactly the right time, just as he did in the primary against Arlen Specter. He also never sleeps, eats, or goes to the bathroom.