The following is a transcript of an interview with Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania that aired Sunday July 31, 2022 on “Face the Nation”.
JOHN DICKERSON: Now let’s go to Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. He’s in Zionsville this morning. Hello, senator.
SENATOR PAT TOOMEY: Hello, John.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let’s start with what Democrats call the Inflation Reduction Act. You-you and the other Republicans are not a fan. What is your main criticism?
SEN. TOOMEY: Well, it’s going to make inflation worse, actually. So they’ve got a big corporate tax hike that’s probably going to make the recession we’re in worse. All these expenses are unnecessary. This will exacerbate inflation. It will not reduce the deficit. And what did Senator Manchin get for us? Listen, I’m a huge Joe Manchin fan. We’re friends like he said, and I really like Joe, but I think he got taken to the cleaners. He accepts all this bad politics in exchange for which he was promised that there will be some kind of infrastructure bills in favor of energy in the future. But first, I thought we did that in the infrastructure bill. Second, what is the text? More importantly, why is it not in this bill? And the answer is because Democrats don’t support it. And so, it will do a lot of harm and there will be no corresponding benefit.
JOHN DICKERSON: There’s a lot line in there. Let me focus on inflation, which everyone is focusing on. The Responsible Budget Commission, which has been your fan in the past and even in the present, said: “Although the reconciliation was designed to reduce the deficit, it will be the first time in many years that it will indeed be used for that objective purpose. With inflation at its highest level in 40 years and debt approaching record levels. This would be a welcome improvement from the status quo. They and others who have looked at this say it will affect the – the, it will affect the deficit, reduce the deficit in this legislation.
SEN. TOOMEY: Yeah, so that’s why we won’t, because they’re using the same gimmick that Senator Manchin said he was opposed to in the past. They are claiming revenue over a 10-year window from their steep tax increases and price controls. And then the expenses that they recognize, they claim, will only last three years. These are the Obamacare grants for the wealthy Americans. It is an obvious political reward. The last time they had to do this they said it would only be for two years. It is about to expire. And they can’t, they can’t expire it before an election. So they are extending it, but only for three years – they have no intention of ever ending Obamacare subsidies over a 10-year window that would negate the so-called deficit reduction.
JOHN DICKERSON: But, so you’re assuming bad faith in the future. But in this case, they extended it and they found payments for it to be deficit – for it to reduce the deficit right now. It is therefore plausible, given what awaits us today, that it could happen again in the future. I understand what you are saying. Politically, that may not be the case. But based on what is in front of us, which is an extension of the ACA and a reduction in the deficit, it is possible.
SEN. TOOMEY: They are – they also count huge amounts of additional tax revenue by giving more taxes, money to the IRS, which the CBO disagrees with. They also do not take into account the slowdown in our economy due to this large increase in corporate taxes which will mainly hurt manufacturing and domestic investment. These figures are very, very dubious.
JOHN DICKERSON: Quickly on this production issue. I mentioned to Senator Manchin that the idea of supply diminishes when you tax these companies. He said it’s a matter of fairness, that these reliefs that they have – represent a previous tax cut, and it’s a matter of fairness in America.
SEN. TOOMEY: So look, what is the source of this tax increase? It is very simple. When we did our tax reform in 2017, we said if a company took its profits and reinvested them in its business in the form of capital investment, new equipment, new factories, increasing their capacity. Then we said you would be able to deduct the cost of that in the year you incur the cost. Democrats say we need to put an end to this, despite the huge increase in capital spending it has brought us. And instead, they’ll say you only recognize a small fraction of that. We will- they will increase the cost of investing in a business.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about this week’s legislation, the PACT Act, which I know you want to talk about. It provides health care to millions of veterans who have been exposed to toxins. 123 Republicans in the House voted for it. 34 Senate Republicans voted in favour. Same invoice. This week, the bill didn’t change, but the Republican votes did. Why?
SEN. TOOMEY: No, the Republican votes have not changed on the substance of the bill. Republicans said we wanted an amendment to change a provision that has nothing to do with veterans’ health care. Republicans support him. Democrats added a provision that has nothing to do with veterans’ health care, and it’s designed to change the government’s accounting rules so they can go on a $400 billion spending spree. .
JOHN DICKERSON: –But–
SEN. TOOMEY: – My amendment, if we’re – if I’m allowed to move it, will remove that provision and not cut veterans’ expenses one penny.
JOHN DICKERSON: You mentioned it’s – the Democrats put this in, but they got 134 Republican votes, and you still have a lot of Republicans voting for it. It seems like making it look like a Democratic gimmick obscures your real purpose and lifelong interest, which is budgeting and whether the rules should be strict now, or whether, like those who advocate this bill, say, allow Congress to work in the future to be fiscally responsible. Isn’t that a more accurate way of thinking about what you offer?
SEN. TOOMEY: Well, let’s be careful here because, JOHN, you misinterpreted that when you were talking with Senator Manchin. We fully accept that new spending under the PACT Act for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals will increase the deficit. And we accept that as a price we have to pay for the people who serve the country. What I oppose is a budget trick, a sleight of hand in accounting rules, that will allow totally independent spending of $400 billion over the next 10 years. That is what we believe should not be in this bill. Never should have been.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, there’s a debate about that. And as you know, some Republicans don’t think that’s a… it’s a gimmick. They still support this, and they think it can be fixed later. But let me ask you this. I read the wording of your amendment, which doesn’t just deal with this other thing. It actually caps the annual spending of the toxic fund. And after 10 years, it’s gone…
SEN. TOOMEY: – No, so, John, that’s totally wrong. What it caps is how the government accounts for those transfers, but there’s no cap on the amount of money that goes over, there’s no cap on the total program. Listen, if an honest Democrat evaluating this will tell you, if my amendment passes, not a penny of change in spending on veterans programs. What changes is how the government reports on it.
JOHN DICKERSON: I understand. But the accounting change, as you know, is a result – the reason they put it in that other bucket is that it doesn’t put it through the normal budgeting triage. And the argument is that the values at stake here are more important than relying on the normal cut and direction of budgeting. And so, I would like to ask you this –
SEN. TOOMEY: – Yeah, but it’s –
JOHN DICKERSON: – but it’s worth protecting, that’s their argument. Let me… it’s a matter of priorities. As you know, budgets are a way for people to talk about a government’s priorities. This week, many Republicans who reversed their votes voted for semiconductors. In 2017, Republicans lifted discretionary spending caps. We have also had a situation where a lot of spending is on defence. You have been consistent with deficit reduction. But a lot of other Republicans, when they think it’s in their interest, say let’s raise the caps, let’s not be so picky about the budget. So why is it important to be meticulous when dealing with veterans, but less so when it comes to supporting chipmakers?
SEN. TOOMEY: Because John, again, you completely misrepresent that. We all agree that there is no change to the projected spending path for all veterans programs, existing veterans programs and new ones under the PACT Act. What we oppose is an accounting ploy that will allow totally independent spending of $400 billion over the next 10 years. And most Republicans think we shouldn’t relax budget rules so Democrats can go on a spending spree on things unrelated to veterans’ health care.
JOHN DICKERSON: Of course, the Democrats will have to be accountable in the future when this spending happens, and they may not be, but thank you, senator, for being with us. We appreciate your time.
SEN. TOOMEY: I would impose – I would also impose the restriction on the Republicans.
JOHN DICKERSON: And you have the last word, Senator Toomey, thank you. We will be back right away with more Face the Nation stays with us.