Sen. Pat Toomey is one of the great accomplishments of the Tea Party Movement, and after supporting him in ’04 back when Bush was backing Specter, it does my heart good to see him in our dysfunctional deliberate body. For that same reason, some are very angry at him for his vote on the fiscal cliff deal. But as we go into another debt-ceiling fight, he’s one of our better communicators on this issue. So, it also does my heart good to see him go on “Morning Joe,” up against five people who disagree with him, and direct the conversation, over and over, away from the fig leaf of revenue and back to the real issue of entitlements and $16 trillion in debt.
There are some, like Ben Domenech, who think the debt ceiling deal will look much like this one— a short-term get-out-of-jail solution that again doesn’t address our real problems because no one really wants to address them. There are some, like Jim Pethokoukis, who think it’ll end in another tax hike.
If it’s ever going to look any different, with the GOP demanding what’s best for the country— “getting us off the path to Greece,” as Toomey puts it by addressing entitlement reform and maybe tax reform—it’s going to take people like Toomey to explain that, on TV, every single day. Many Americans simply don’t understand the gravity of the debt problem. Democrats and some Republicans are more than happy to feed this misunderstanding by pretending these deals make some kind of progress because it helps them avoid stickier budget wickets.
Toomey’s Wednesday appearance is getting a lot of press because he said the GOP should be willing to risk a temporary government shut-down to get cuts, but that’s just the beginning of what he said. He challenges the panel on the notion that credit downgrades come from these skirmishes and short-term deals or whether they really come from such deals making clear the U.S. is unwilling to tackle its larger problems. He challenged them on whether a temporary shutdown would cause more pain and disruption than allowing the debt problem to fester until it calls for more drastic measures. He informed them that one of the reasons we’re in these cliff situations is because Democratic senators haven’t passed a budget in three years. All of that should be part of the conversation, but it won’t be unless Republicans like Toomey make it part of the conversation.