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Sen. Pat Toomey talks to WFMZ about tax reform, possible Obamacare repeal

VIDEO Sen. Pat Toomey talks to WFMZ

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - WFMZ met with Senator Pat Toomey at his office in Allentown on Monday, fresh off of his bipartisan dinner at the White House to discuss tax reform. 

We asked his impression of President Trump's commitment to tax reform, and whether it seemed like he is engaged on the topic. 

"Yes, definitely. This is a high priority for the president. He's not as much focused on specific features and details but it's very important to him that we get it done," said Sen. Toomey. 

Toomey was not supportive, however, of President Trump's openness to the possibility of raising taxes on wealthier Americans. 

"I think it's a bad idea to raise taxes on anyone, including the people who are most productive and pay the most taxes. I think it's OK to lower taxes across the board," he said. 

One of the last times Toomey spoke to WFMZ, he said that if the Affordable Care Act was not repealed, he thought it would be a lot more difficult to pass tax reform and that it might not be as comprehensive as it could have been.

Since then, Republicans have failed in their efforts to repeal or reform the law.

We asked Sen. Toomey whether he still believed an Obamacare repeal was necessary for successful tax reform.

"Well there's a question about the comprehensiveness of it. Although I'm not sure anymore that it's harder than it would have been," he said. "Obamacare is just loaded with taxes. And it would have been nice to eliminate all those taxes…since we were not able to do that, it raises the question, 'do you do it in tax reform?'. And I think the answer is we're not going to. I think we're going to treat it as a separate problem."

With Obamacare repeal legislation still percolating in Congress, we asked Sen. Toomey whether he thought the law may be rescinded.   

"The answer's yes, and I think it has to. Obamacare is still a failure. I mean the individual markets are still in a death spiral. Premiums have gone through the roof," he said. 

Sen. Toomey, however, pointed out the difficulty of repealing or modifying existing entitlement programs, even in the face of a ballooning federal debt which recently passed $20 trillion. 

"Government spending is the problem," he said. "The problem that we have though is the lion's share of federal spending is now the big spending programs on autopilot."

He was referring, specifically, to programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

The problem, he said, is making any changes to those programs is extraordinarily difficult politically, which he saw first hand when he recently worked on health care legislation. 

"It would have slightly slowed down the growth rate of Medicaid. Weren't gonna cut it. No one was going to be thrown off," he said. "And even that met with amazing opposition. I'm sorry, but if we don't slow down the rate at which these programs grow, it will bankrupt the country. It's only a question of when."

In the meantime the government spends more, borrows more, and the Federal Reserve prints more money. 

When it comes to the central bank, Toomey thinks its behavior in recent years has been "extremely dangerous."

"Very bad idea to engage in this completely unprecedented experiment of zero interest rates and in many places negative interest rates. And creating an absolutely unprecedented, staggering amount of money. Pouring it into the economy. The Fed's balance sheet is now over $4 trillion. This could still end very badly," said Toomey. "So I'm in favor of reigning in the Fed."

Turning to local politics, WFMZ asked Sen. Toomey if he is supporting anyone in the battle to replace Rep. Charlie Dent (R-15th), who recently announced he will not seek another term in Congress.

"I have not made an endorsement," said Toomey with a chuckle. "I'm not sure the field is entirely full yet. We'll see what happens."


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