After shutdown vote, expect to hear more about “Tea Party Pat Toomey”
When Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey voted against the deal to end the government shut down on Wednesday, he said it was all about his disapproval of increased spending associated with the bill.
“The one major redeeming aspect of this bill is that it reopens the government,” he said in a statement. “But I cannot support piling hundreds of billions of dollars of debt on current and future generations of Americans without even a sliver of reform to start putting our fiscal house in order.”
Toomey was one of 18 Senators—all Republicans—to vote against opening the government. The votes against were the usual cast of characters; people like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY) and David Vitter (R-LA). And what do all those guys have in common? They are regularly portrayed as the Tea Party wing of the Republican party, against spending and government benefits which help the poor.
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party has taken notice and released a statement about the state’s junior senator’s most recent move—using the term “Tea Party Pat Toomey” four times! Check it out:
“Tea Party Pat Toomey turned his back on Pennsylvania and voted to destroy America’s economy,” said Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesman Marc Eisenstein. “Tea Party Pat Toomey has once again shown his true colors by leading the most extreme wing against a policy to reopen the government and help hundreds of thousand of middle class Americans. Tea Party Pat Toomey wants to continue to hold the nation’s economy hostage while he fights for Tea Party policies that his constituents simply do not support. There has been no clearer indication that Tea Party Pat Toomey is completely out-of-touch with Pennsylvania.”
Before the shutdown occurred, Toomey joined the original filibuster against funding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, even after saying shutting down the government to defund Obamacare was not worth the risk.
“I’m totally in favor of the goal, but this vehicle isn’t going to achieve it,” Toomey told the Inquirer in August. “That’s not a tactic that’s going to get us the outcome we want.”
Then, after Republicans shut the government shut down with the hopes of delaying Obamacare for a year (among other things) Toomey had the audacity to say even if the government didn’t re-open by October 17, the government would not default on its debt, suggesting tax revenue paying interest on U.S. debt is good enough.
“There’s zero chance that the U.S. government is going to default on its debt. It’s unfortunate that people have conflated this idea of not raising the debt ceiling immediately on Oct. 17 and somehow defaulting on our debt,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
And with all that in mind, don’t think for a second the Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s use of the “Tea Party Pat Toomey” term is by mistake.
When you search the term “Tea Party Pat Toomey” with quotes around it, the first, second and third hits are from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party—the first a post with a video about the government shutdown, the second a blog, and the third a tweet. All of that! And all within the last week.
Why now? Probably because the government shutdown completely destroyed whatever credibility and reputation the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party had going for it.
According to the Pew Research Center, just 30 percent of Americans now view the Tea Party favorably, down 11 points since June, and at an all time low. They’ve correctly received much of the blame for the shutdown, even after taking over a “Million veteran march” this past weekend.
Both Toomey and the Democratic Party are probably looking at his next race. Not the one he’s not going to run in the gubernatorial primary. Rather, the one that seems forever from now, in 2016, when he’ll likely face not just a Democratic opponent (Former Rep. Joe Sestak has already suggested he’d like to run against Toomey), but a Democratic presidential candidate in a state where no Republican has won since 1988. Democrats are going to have to paint Toomey as extreme according to votes when the senator does what he does best: Talk moderate.
Similarly, if Toomey faces a primary challenge over his weak Republican stance on gun control, this would be a great vote to point to, proving his place amongst the most extreme right wing Tea Patriots the country has to offer.
Follow Randy on Twitter: @RandyLoBasso