Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Pat Toomey says the 2012 spending proposal he presented to the Senate Budget Committee Tuesday would balance the budget in nine years, a year shorter than the House plan, but though it doesn’t revamp Medicare that doesn’t mean he is causing a rift among tea party advocates.
When challenged by Fox News’ Neal Cavuto as to whether leaving Medicare reform alone was a sign he “caved” knowing it would not pass the muster of the Democrat-controlled Senate, Toomey also said Tuesday the timing is not right to tackle the issue and it does not mean he is abandoning deep spending cuts.
“The fact is, I think the world of what the House Republicans have done, but their reforms to Medicare began after the 10th year, for the understandable reason that nobody that I know of wants to change the rules of the game for people who are already retired, already receiving Medicare, or close to it,” Toomey said.
“What most of us think is we need to make reforms for future generations, for younger workers. My focus is just these next 10 years, and my intent was to demonstrate — and I think we have done it — that we can reach a balance within those 10 years. And that’s what we should be shooting for,” he said.
Cavuto noted Toomey’s budget plan has the support of Sens. Jim DeMint and Marco Rubio — two other tea party favorites — but not Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and wondered whether this indicated a split in the tea party ranks.
“I haven’t had a chance to speak with Senator Paul about my budget approach — I think he does have an approach of his own — I’m not sure he’s actually introduced it yet, but I think he intends to,” Toomey said. “You know, I haven’t had a chance to really study his — he probably hasn’t had a chance to study mine.
“But I’m just going to focus on this goal of getting ourselves to a balance within 10 years without raising taxes,” he said. “In fact, we advocate for some pro-growth tax reform that would simplify the code and lower marginal tax rates — that’s what we ought to be doing here.”
Cavuto still wondered whether not addressing Medicare is not sending the message “to some tea party loyalists is that you guys have punted and, on a big entitlement issue — you guys have backed away.”
“Neil, it’s — it’s a totally mistaken impression,” Toomey said. “First of all, if [House Budget Committee Chairman] Paul Ryan’s budget comes up on the Senate floor, I’m going to vote for it. I have also advocated for profound reform of Social Security — I have written a chapter in my book that’s dedicated to that.
“But that doesn’t happen to be in this budget resolution either, because that`s beyond the 10-year window,” he added. “I just want to focus on this 10- year window, where the real problem in recent years has been on the discretionary side.”
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