Congressional Supercommittee May Admit Failure As Toomey Holds up ‘No-Tax Pledge’

Photo by Ada Kulesza

Photo by Ada Kulesza

Later today, the Congressional Supercommittee, of which Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey is a member, will announce their plan to save $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. Most media reports have stated the outcome will not be good, and no deal will be reached. Blame will be hot-potatoed from member to member, cause to cause, but that fault more likely has a close ally in our Pennsylvania senator and others who’ve got a series of “pledges” hovering over their heads.

Toomey, former president of the Club For Growth promised to create jobs and cut taxes and do all that good stuff that Republicans promise, always. And since making his way into Congress, he’s been a major player on the freshman circuit. He’s co-sponsored more than 100 bills, the subject of which has often been the same—restricting the government from taxing its way to more jobs and less debt; restricting the government from seeing what guns you purchase; repealing the “Job-killing Heath Care Law.” But most of all, he’s managed to stick to the No-Tax pledge which Americans for Tax Reform Head Grover Norquist got him to sign during the 2010 campaign.

And later, the supercommittee will reportedly admit they could not come to an agreement on what to cut, and where. Blame is already being handed out—the Drudge Report highlighted an interview/love session between Sean Hannity and Rand Paul, in which Paul said the Democrats on the committee left the negotiating table first; Salon has an article blaming the Tea Party; Slate says the Bush tax cuts are to blame—and they’re probably all right: The supercommittee, created because of deadlock in Washington, is set to fail because of manifest deadlock in its own ranks.

As Steve Kornacki notes at Salon,

There was another factor, too. Any Republican member of Congress who might be open to the idea of compromise would have to weigh it against the lesson that the Tea Party movement delivered loud and clear during the 2010 primary season: If we think you’ve sold us out, we’ll kick you out.

And whether you’re dealing with 435 members of the House, 100 in the Senate or 12 members of the committee, the Tea Party base, which decides GOP primaries, is watching.

Which is why the GOP appointed members like Pat Toomey—who signed one of those Grover Norquist No-Tax Pledges—to the committee. Had they hoped this time around, unlike some five fiscal grand bargains of the 80s and 90s, a deal would be reached without tax increases? Of course not. More likely, as has been the case with most of their decision-making, it was to ensure deadlock in both Congress and the Executive Branch. It was noted in some reports that Republicans in the supercommittee had considered breaking the pledge. But that seems to have not been the case.

Because Sen. John Kerry today called Grover Norquist the “13th member of this committee without being there.” He went on to say, of the Tax Pledges, “I can’t tell you how many times we hear about ‘the pledge, the pledge.’”

And the pledge has not gone unnoticed by constituents. At a recent Occupy rally, a woman protesting (whose homemade sign is above) rhetorically asked me, “Why is Pat Toomey making pledges to Grover Norquist? Shouldn’t he be making pledges to the people he represents? He doesn’t represent Grover Norquist.”

Which is true. Toomey’s said he’d create jobs in Pennsylvania. But he certainly took no pledge to do so. And he’s shown little-to-no interest in representing the people of Philadelphia.

Several activists and community members in West Philadelphia, at a recent Fight For Philly event, noted of Toomey’s place on the supercommittee that the Senator would now have free reign to block and undo everything the president’s been trying to pass over his three years in office.

“He doesn’t want to [help pass the American Jobs Act], because Obama is in there,” said a neighborhood member at the protest who asked not to be named. “He wants to spite Obama; he’s trying to be smart.”

The point is probably true, but not just for Toomey. With few exceptions, all Republicans have spent the last three years promising the End of America and catastrophic consequences if Obama gets his way. The supercommittee is just the latest example of just that, and certainly not the last.

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