Thursday, August 11, 2011

An Interview with Super Committee Member Senator Pat Toomey

Here’s the first super-committee interview with newly appointed member Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). He's a supply-sider and tea-party backer with rather minimal expectations for the super-committee, although he does believe they can pick up another trillion of budget cuts without raising taxes.


The House and Senate Republicans named their picks for the 12-member super

committee charged with tackling the country's debt crisis. This has all

happened in the last 24-48 hours. Joining us now, first on CNBC interview, we

have Pennsylvanian Republican Senator Pat Toomey. He will serve on the


Senator Toomey, old friend, welcome back. Let me just ask you, before we get

down to nuts and bolts on your assignment, so many people say to me, `You all

elected representatives, House and Senate, ought to come back to Washington

and start working on spending, on debt, on economic growth. Why are you all

taking this vacation? We need help. The market needs help. The national

psychology needs help.'

Senator PAT TOOMEY: Well, be careful what you wish for, Larry. You know,

when Congress is in session, it's not always the optimal thing for the

markets. But let me say this, the folks on this committee, I think, will

begin discussions before September and hopefully be able to really hit the

ground running soon.

KUDLOW: Will you begin those discussion in Washington, Senator?

Sen. TOOMEY: Well, I suspect we'll be doing it by conference call and by

phone call before we get to Washington, but of course we'll continue in-person


KUDLOW: What do you want to come out of this? Let's talk spending cuts to


Sen. TOOMEY: Well, Larry, you know, the mandate from the legislation is at

least $1.2 trillion. Frankly, I hope we can do more than that. I hope we can

accomplish more because the deficit magnitude that we have is much bigger than

that. But the other thing that's equally important to me is that whatever we

do is pro-growth. You know, we've got to have solidly pro-growth policies.

You know, I tend to look at things from the supply side, looking for ways to

make it less expensive to do more production. I think that's what creates a

demand and keeps an economy moving. So if we can do--if we can do some

meaningful deficit reduction on at least the scale that's called for in the

legislation and do it in a way that encourages economic growth, that would be


KUDLOW: Is it possible, Senator, to put side by side spending reduction,

entitlement reform and tax reform? Is that possible or are the expectations

for this super committee too high?

Sen. TOOMEY: Well, it's possible but it's very tough. That's a big

combination. Our legislation does authorize that level of activity. And

frankly, there's some low-hanging fruit. This tax code is so incredibly

inefficient, it's so costly, it's such a dead weight burden on the economy, we

could simply it, get rid of so much of the junk, lower marginal rates, and I'm

convinced that would have a very powerfully pro-growth impact. That would be

good for the deficit, the revenue would increase in that fashion. So I hope

we can tackle all of those things, but, you know, time will tell.

KUDLOW: Just two quick points. The stock market, which is crashing right

now, as you well know. You use to be in the financial world.

Sen. TOOMEY: Right.

KUDLOW: So many people are worried that we're going to have root canal

spending cuts but they're not going to be accompanied by lower tax rates, and

therefore we're going into recession, that Washington may be causing this

recession, Senator. Do you have a quick thought on that?

Sen. TOOMEY: Well, I think a lot of policies out of Washington have been

contributing to the problems we have, especially on the regulatory side. The

uncertainty of the size of these deficits and whether that's going to lead to

higher interest rates, inflation, higher taxes, that's not constructive. So

making some progress here, I think, you know, could go a long way to

encouraging the kind of certainty and confidence that people need.

KUDLOW: Is it possible that this super committee can surprise us, deliver

more deficit reduction, the right way, as you say, shrinking government,

promoting growth, and we get our AAA rating back from S&P? Do the members of

this committee have any sense of how to get that AAA rating back?

Sen. TOOMEY: We haven't--we haven't met yet as a committee. You know, we

were just--membership was just announcement today, as you know. So it's a

little early to project just how ambitious we can be. But I can tell you it's

my hope that we will strive to do more than the minimum required by this

legislation. We need to do more than that to get back that AAA, although I'm

skeptical about why S&P reached the decision it did. I just want us to bring

spending under control and do it in a pro-growth policy.

KUDLOW: All right. Senator Pat Toomey, a newly appointed members to the

deficit reduction super committee. We wish you all the best of luck, Senator.

Thanks very much.

Sen. TOOMEY: Thanks, Larry.

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