Toomey: US financial path troubling

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey enjoys his job but said “more days than not, it is frustrating.”

Toomey, chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, in a visit to the Mirror said the biggest issue in Washington is getting the federal government on a sustainable financial path.

“We have racked up a staggering amount of debt. We are on a path to become Greece. We shouldn’t wait until we have a full-blown crisis to get our fiscal house in order. Some borrowing can make sense, but we are taking money out of our kids’ and grandkids’ future,” the Republican senator said.

“We are massively borrowing money because we don’t have any spending discipline. This president hasn’t seen a spending program he doesn’t want to grow.”

Recent scandals like the IRS’ targeting of conservative political groups is making it difficult to get things done in Washington, Toomey said.

“The IRS thing is a very big deal. They know more about us than our neighbors. They have some real personal information and have been abusing their power,” Toomey said. “We need to get to the bottom of it, it goes back to whether the American people can trust their government.”

Toomey said he keeps hearing from constituents about the Affordable Care Act.

“I feel the wheel is coming off, and it is damaging the economy. It is keeping small employers small. We have people losing hours. It is a huge drain on the economy,” Toomey said. “It is a huge problem. I have heard that everywhere.”

As for accomplishments, Toomey said his biggest has been authoring a series of bills that became the foundation for the Jumpstart Our Business Startups or JOBS Act, which cuts regulations on small and medium-sized businesses making it easier for them to raise money and create jobs.

“The Securities and Exchange Commission has been slow to implement the thing, but they will eventually. Growing companies will be able to raise capital more easily,” Toomey said. “Occasionally common sense breaks out and prevails.”

On other matters, Toomey said:

n He was disappointed the Senate rejected his proposal, co-authored with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to expand background checks on gun purchases. “I thought we had a real sensible proposal. At the end, we fell short. We are not likely to get anyone who voted no to vote yes now. The votes are what they are.”

n He recently co-sponsored legislation to assist military service members who are victims of sexual assault and to hold their attackers accountable. “It is disturbing about how prevalent sexual assault is in the military. The idea that someone in the service is assaulted and needs to salute that person is a real problem.”

n He would not give Congress a high grade at the present time.

“If I had to issue a report card, it would get a very low grade. When we can’t agree on an appropriations bill, I can’t give it a decent grade.”

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.