Toomey: ‘I don’t intend to violate any pledge’

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) on Tuesday said he was sticking with conservative activist Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge during the upcoming deficit-reduction talks.

“I don’t intend to violate any pledge,” said Toomey during an interview on CNN’s “Starting Point.” 

“My pledge is not to support higher taxes, what we are faced with in just a few weeks is a massive tax increase,” he added. “If I can help insure we don’t have that tax increase, then I believe I’ve fulfilled my pledge to fight for the lowest possible taxes.”

Toomey’s comments come as a number of his GOP colleagues in Congress have publicly broken with the Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform pledge as Washington looks for a solution to avoid the impending “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and spending cuts taking effect in January. 

President Obama is pressuring GOP lawmakers to agree to raise taxes on the wealthy in any deficit-reduction plan, but Republicans say raising tax rates could harm job creation.

Many lawmakers though, including GOP Sens. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) as well as Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) have said they be willing to accept increased tax revenues if Democrats placed entitlement reform on the negotiating table and committed to spending cuts.

Toomey on Tuesday said he would remain opposed to efforts to raise tax rates, but is open to new revenues if matched by equivalent spending cuts and lower marginal tax rates.

“We are now just a few weeks away from a massive tax increase, and I am trying to find a way to avoid inflicting that damage on our economy and going through that,” said Toomey. “If we are going to have to have some kind of revenue increase which this president seems to be determined to do, I hope we can at least do it in the way that means the least economic harm.”

Toomey said he would like new revenues to come from closing loopholes and deductions but said those measures should be matched with lowering tax rates.  

“If we were lowering marginal rates at the same time, lower than we have today and if we were going to do something meaningful about the actual problem we have which is spending and which is the entitlement programs,” he said.

Asked if he would back new revenues without Democrats lowering rates, Toomey said “no.”

“If we are going to do something on the revenue side, lets at least not damage the economy more than we have to.”

Toomey also said he welcomed President Obama’s visit to Pennsylvania later this week as the president looks to push his tax policies to the public.

The president will visit with business owners in Pennsylvania later this week as he continues public outreach to pressure on congressional Republicans ahead of talks.

Toomey said the president seemed “absolutely determined to inflict a tax increase on the American people” and had many questions he needed to answer to the public.

“If the president actually gets the tax increase that he really wants that solves 8 percent of the projected deficit over the next 10 years, what in the world is the president’s plan for the other 92 percent? Is he going to raise taxes on the middle class, is he going to raise taxes repeatedly,” he said.

“The economy is weaker than it was two years ago, why does he want to inflict that damage now?” asked Toomey.