Photo: Clara Ritger
HERSHEY, Pa. -- U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey placed a priority on balancing the budget in a bipartisan fashion at the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania meeting Tuesday.

“We as a collective government are refusing to deal with a completely unsustainable fiscal policy that is courting a financial crisis,” Toomey said.

Earlier this year, Toomey, a Republican, worked with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, to pass a bill that would make it easier for companies to go public. He said in the Senate it is hard to get things done when legislators don't make concessions and work in a bipartisan fashion.

“Now Chuck Schumer and I probably have a hard time agreeing that today is Tuesday,” Toomey said to the laughing crowd. “But nothing’s going to happen in the Senate unless it’s bipartisan.”

He stressed the importance of providing stimulus measures, like his bill with Schumer, in addition to budget proposals.

“If you look at our three largest areas of government spending – Social Security, mandatory health care, and interest on our debt – those three alone cost 100 percent of all the revenue we historically have been able to collect,” Toomey said. “Those three programs are projected to grow at 11.1 percent per year. There’s no chance our government will keep up.”

Toomey agreed with President Barack Obama that defense spending should not be spared in the budget cuts, but said there is a way to provide “what is necessary to achieve our national security requirements” without putting the Pentagon in a state of disrepair.

“Not all federal spending is created equal,” he said.

Robert DeSousa, Toomey’s state director, cited the senator’s own budget plan as an example of how to both spend and cut in government programs.

“Senator Toomey proposed freezing spending in certain categories and block-granting money to the states for others,” DeSousa said.

He said Toomey wanted to flat-level Pentagon spending so that they would get the minimum required to meet national security goals. He also said Toomey’s budget plan would block grant spending in human services programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, so that the states could run them.

“It would create a tremendous amount of efficiency,” DeSousa said.

Toomey criticized Congress for its tendency to pass one- and two-year extensions, saying they overshadowed long-term solutions. Toomey, however, has said he is in favor of the one-year extension to the Bush tax cuts.


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