You often see Pat Toomey described in the media as a “deficit hawk,” or as someone who’s very concerned with balancing the budget, but these descriptions really fail to grasp what the man is all about.
Pat Toomey cares about one thing, and one thing only: low taxes, especially on the wealthy.
Here he is explaining this very clearly:
If we’re going to have to have some kind of revenue increase, which this president seems determined to do, I would hope we could at least do it in the way that does the least economic harm. That means lower marginal rates, reform the tax code, offset the lost revenue by reducing deductions, write-offs, loopholes, that sort of thing. Then, at least, you could hope that you’d have some pro-growth policy in your tax code that would offset the damage done by greater revenue…
I don’t intend to violate any pledge. My pledge is not to support higher taxes. What we’re faced with in just a few weeks is a massive tax increase. If I can help ensure that we don’t have that tax increase then I believe I’ve fulfilled my pledge to fight for the lowest possible taxes.
Nothing Pat Toomey does makes any sense except through this frame.
For instance, you may recall that in the Supercommittee negotiations Toomey’s plan included an enormous regressive tax cut, and a bunch of hand-waiving about cutting tax exemptions some time in the future. “Enormous tax cut now, do some other stuff later” is not a deficit reduction plan. It is a tax cut plan.
Toomey gets credit in the media for being a deficit hawk because he uses the word “deficit” a lot, and gives speeches about why he thinks the deficit is a scary problem.
But when you actually look at what he does – the plans he supports, and the bills that he votes for – you quickly see that he does not care about the deficit. What he cares about, very consistently, is getting to the “lowest possible taxes”, especially on rich people.