One Nation Under Debt

Published — August 10, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Toomey’s Club for Growth years will inform his deficit committee work

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell picked Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., for the bipartisan debt "super committee."


Before returning to public service, Sen. Patrick Toomey spent four years as the president of the ultra-conservative Club for Growth, giving him serious pro-business, anti-tax credentials that will make him a formidable force on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

Toomey grew up in a working class family in East Providence, R.I., the third of six children. In the early 1990s, he moved to Allentown, Pa., where he started a restaurant chain called Rookie’s with his two brothers.

In 1998, Toomey won the open seat in Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District. During his House career, Toomey positioned himself as an expert in budget and banking matters. His commitment to limited government and pro-economic growth policies earned him plaudits from Citizens Against Government Waste, Americans for Tax Reform and the National Taxpayers Union. Toomey voluntarily retired in 2004 after three terms in the House, where he racked up one of the most conservative voting records.

In 2005, Toomey took the helm of the Club for Growth. The group condemned the federal government interventions after the 2008 market crash, including the $700 billion bank bailout. “Instead of launching the largest government bailout since the Great Depression,” said Toomey, “the government should be implementing policies to stimulate the economy. These include, at a minimum, cutting the tax on capital gains [and] cutting corporate taxes.”

During his time at its head, the Club was known for running conservative challengers to moderate Republicans in Congress in an attempt to force them to move right — or be replaced.

In 2010, Toomey won a Senate seat on a platform of limited government, economic and job growth, and restoring fiscal balance. He currently serves on the Budget; Banking; Commerce, Science and Transportation; and Joint Economic committees. He also is the ranking member on the Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance Subcommittee.

Toomey has stuck to his conservative guns during his second congressional stint. He voted for repeal of the new health reform law and against the final compromise bill to raise the debt ceiling. “While I appreciate the hard work and effort that has gone into this deal, it simply does not contain meaningful spending cuts, nor does it put us on a sustainable fiscal path,” Toomey said.

Top Contributors

  • CONSOL Energy Inc., an energy production company — at least $20,000
  • Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., a gas and chemical manufacturing company — at least $15,000
  • Duane Morris LLP, a Pennsylvania-based international law firm — at least $15,000
  • AT&T Inc., the telecomm giant — at least $11,000
  • Aqua America, Inc., a Pennsylvania-based water utility — at least $10,500
  • Day & Zimmerman Inc., a Pennsylvania-based defense, government, and corporate contractor — at least $10,500
  • PACs gave at least $1.7 million to Toomey’s campaign account and his Citizens for Prosperity in America Today leadership PAC since the start of 2009

Revolving Door

  • Brian Wild, a former Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for Toomey, now works for Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti. Wild, who also served as a lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce and spent some time in the Bush White House, now lobbies on behalf of clients like Chrysler, the Koch Companies, and Wal-Mart

Statements on Super Congress

  • In a statement, Toomey said, “Despite the difficulties ahead, I am committed to tackling this challenge and am hopeful that we can produce a proposal that seriously reduces our nation’s deficits and grows our economy. Throughout the debate over the debt ceiling, I stressed that we need a solution that achieves the dual goals of putting our government on a path toward a balanced budget, and maximizing economic growth and enabling us to create the jobs we badly need. I remain committed to both of these vital goals.”

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