Toomey: We Will Not Default on Our Debt

CHRIS COTTER, GUEST HOST: Tea Partiers slamming it, House Republicans not buying it, and today, this GOP senator officially on the record against it.

Senator Pat Toomey not much -- or not backing Mitch McConnell’s last- resort plan that would give the president power to raise the debt ceiling.

The Pennsylvania senator joining me now. Senator, what is it about this plan that doesn’t sit well with you?

SEN. PAT TOOMEY, R-PA.: Well -- well, first of all, let me be very clear. I think Senator McConnell is understandably very frustrated by an administration that refuses to make some real progress on a huge problem that we have, which is to bring our deficits under control without devastating our economy with huge tax increases.

My own view is I want to fight to the very end on this. I think if we raise this debt limit or if we allow the debt limit to be raised without getting the change in direction, without putting us on a sustainable fiscal path, then -- then we’re risking grave danger to our economy and to our future. And so my strategy is to fight for an approach that’ll put us on a path to a balanced budget. I don’t think that is unreasonable.


COTTER: OK. So, the risks to you, just to you personally, the risks of hitting August 2 without a deal in place are less than the risks of going forward with a plan such that McConnell has put forward, where you would have -- give a lot more leeway to the president moving forward?

TOOMEY: Look, I’ve said all along, if we get to August 2 without having raised debt ceiling that will be disruptive. That will be a partial government shutdown.

But we will not default on our debt. There is enough ongoing revenue in the form of tax revenue to prevent that. And, frankly, if we just raised the debt limit without the structural reform, without the real spending cuts we need, then we’re inviting a catastrophe down the road.

So I think we need to put all the pressure we can on the administration and ask the president, what’s wrong with moving towards a balanced budget? I’m not suggesting we can get there overnight. And I’d be very flexible about how we got there. But President Clinton acknowledged that we ought to balance our budget. And working with Republicans in Congress, they did. So, why can’t we do that again?


COTTER: Well, is it a balanced budget amendment a part of the deal? Because Fox is learning from a source that it could very well be. But, earlier today, Jay Carney just basically dismissed the idea.

TOOMEY: Well, I think it really needs to be.

What I’ve argued is, again, we don’t need to have a balanced budget overnight, but we need to cut spending now and put ourselves on a path to balance. I think that would get, actually, I think, overwhelming, if not unanimous, support among Republicans to raise the debt ceiling, which is what the president has insisted he vitally needs.

So, we’d be willing to do that. I won’t speak for all of my colleague, but I think a big majority would be willing to raise the debt limit if we were on a path to a sustainable balanced budget. I don’t see why the president can’t accept that.

COTTER: You know, just moments ago, Senator John McCain backed Senator McConnell’s plan to ensure that we did not go into default or whatever the dire consequence might be on August 2.

Is there a split at all within the Republican Party, as we continue with these negotiations, from the old guard GOP to the more right-leaning Tea Partiers?

TOOMEY: No, you know, I don’t think there’s that much of a split.


TOOMEY: I think all of us believe that we ought to have real cuts in spending, that a big tax increase should be off the table. It’d be devastating to the economy.

You know, all 47 Republican senators co-sponsored a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. And on my budget, which I introduced and on which the spending caps is based, I had almost every Republican voted for it on the Senate floor. So, I think there’s a lot of unity here.

Some of us are pushing hard to get House Republicans to vote to raise the debt limit, provided and conditioned on a balanced budget amendment, so that we can get on this path. I think Republicans are actually pretty united about where we should be heading. I think we just need to keep the pressure on to move the administration, because, clearly, they’re not with us.

COTTER: Do you think we will get an agreement by August 2? And the reason why I ask, and the reason why I ask this every day, is it seems like every day we’re more firmly entrenched -- or both sides are more firmly entrenched.

TOOMEY: You know, I think it’s very hard to say. I don’t know the answer.

But some of us are working very hard on this. And as – I’ll say it one more time. You know, we have had a Democratic president and a Republican Congress that agreed to balance the budget. And so all I’m suggesting is that this would be a good time to get back on that path toward a balanced budget.

COTTER: You know I got to tell you one more thing, Senator Toomey. I continue to hear the scare game, the blame game, all these things.


COTTER: I think the American people -- and I hope you’ll agree with me -- really want do see a deal get done. And they are tired of hearing whose fault it is, how many presidents we go back that got us into this issue.


COTTER: I think they want to see something done.

TOOMEY: And that’s why I’m invoking the president and the Congress that actually did get something done. I introduced a budget because I think someone should show a vision for where they want us to go. I think that’s a responsibility we have. Mike Lee, the senator from Utah, and I have introduced a bill that would raise the debt limit, provided that we get on a path to balance the budget. I agree with you. I think the American people, my constituents in Pennsylvania want us to get this done, but in a responsible way that keeps our country strong.


Senator Toomey, thank you so much, sir.

TOOMEY: Thanks for having me.

COTTER: All right.

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