Senator Pat Toomey gives D.C. update to LV Chamber members
Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., addressed a number of issues during a Washington, D.C. update presentation Aug. 29, at the Lehigh Country Club.
Toomey answered questions posed by Tony Ianelli, president and CEO of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, during a live videotaping session of the chamber’s WFMZ television program “Business Matters.” The show will air 7:30 p.m. Sept. 9.
More than 100 area business and corporate leaders attended the networking breakfast and the Toomey taping session.
Perhaps reflecting top-of- mind matters, Ianelli’s first question revolved around gun control.
Toomey said he believes it “is reasonable to make it harder for people to have guns that should not have them.” He referenced bi-partisan legislation he proposed in 2013, with West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, saying he believed “we are closer than we ever have been” to legislation on tougher background checks.
Toomey stressed he was a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but he was very interested in seeing loopholes closed that allow easy access to certain types of guns.
Moving on, Ianelli asked Toomey’s views on the seeming lack of interest among current politicians of “getting much of anything meaningful done.”
Toomey acknowledged he sees politicians who “are more interested in elevating themselves and their agendas, than they are in meaningful legislation.”
But, he also said that many in the House and Senate are feeling pressure from their constituents, and are showing “an increased desire to find constructive ways for common ground to get things done.”
Asked about China and the current tariff disputes making headlines, Toomey said President Donald Trump was right to “call out China and challenge them” for bad behavior over many years and taking advantage of the United States and stealing this country’s technological gains, while taking advantage of trade policies that put the United States at a disadvantage.
Calling out China as a bad actor on trade, he acknowledged that “no other country in the world could challenge us.” He said he was hopeful we would shortly “be able to look back and see that the current pain we are feeling was worth it.”
Toomey also said achieving a free-trade agreement with the United Kingdom and Japan would be a big positive for the U.S. economy.
On the global political climate, Toomey said he has “no confidence” in the North Korean regime. “They have been working for many years toward becoming a nuclear world power and I think that will continue to be their objective.”
He also painted Russia’s Vladimir Putin as a “very dangerous” figure. “I believe he would like to reassert Russia as a big world power. But, I think that is more aspirational than realistic. They just do not have the economic clout that we have.”
He said that Russia, though, “will continue to be a dangerous nuclear threat to the world.”
On the immigration issue that continues to draw media headlines, Toomey said “the polarizing atmosphere that currently exists in the country is preventing any reasonable outcome.”
He believes, though, that the most reasonable chance for bi-partisan progress lies with “those who are advocating for a path to citizenship for children who were born and grew up here, even though their parents came to this country illegally.”
In response to Ianelli’s question about the current state of health care in this country, Toomey said that while remnants of the Obama-era health care plan are still in effect, “affordable health care is not very affordable.”
He said the plan was ill-conceived and could have been handled better. “It was too-heavily regulated and burdened by too many mandates.”
He said Republicans are wrestling to design a new health care proposal that would address the unique situations that face people who are struggling with pre-existing health conditions.
Toomey said while he is heartened by the last two years “which have probably been the most productive ever for our economy, progress on health care has been a big disappointment.”
On infrastructure and investment of resources in the country, Toomey said “investment in our country’s roads and bridges is our most pressing infrastructure issue. But, I believe we have to also place more emphasis on getting our costs down.
“How much of every dollar proposed in investments that are designed merely to get politicians re-elected is really necessary.” The reaction of the audience indicated that the answer was probably “very little.”
Toomey praised Trump for getting relations with Israel back on a positive track “after the tensions that arose during the Obama-era.”
Toomey concluded his D.C. update, saying he “could not handicap” the 2020 Democratic race to find a suitable presidential candidate. “It is just to early to know,” he said.