DALLAS TWP. — U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey talked to area residents this week about the economy, the Jobs Act, reducing student loan rates and working across the aisle to impact legislation in Congress.
Toomey, R-Zionsville, told the Back Mountain Chamber of Commerce at Misericordia University on Tuesday it’s imperative Washington help small businesses get the nation’s economy on track. “I’m a small business owner,” he said. “That was the best education I could have gotten to prepare me for Congress.”
Toomey, 51, said the economy is “not performing as it should,” and he blamed it on a “failed fiscal policy.” The U.S. deficit is “way too big” and the country’s mounting debt is threatening future economic growth, Toomey said.
“We also have to deal with the regulatory environment,” Toomey said. “There has been a recent avalanche of new regulations. The list is too long to mention.”
Toomey said the health care law known as “Obamacare” is “unsustainable and unaffordable.” Congress needs to move health care in “a different direction altogether,” he said.
Toomey said the medical device industry should be expanded because devices, in many cases, improve quality of life and extend lives. “And it offers great, higher-paying jobs,” he said, noting the industry is subject to a 2.3 percent sales tax, the same type tax levied on alcohol and tobacco.
“We have to relieve some of these most onerous parts of ‘Obamacare,’” he said.
Toomey said the Jump-start Our Business Start-ups Act, or JOBS Act, has been a success, but it hasn’t fundamentally changed the economy. Toomey helped write and enact the bipartisan JOBS Act, which cuts regulatory burdens on small and medium-sized businesses, making it easier for them to raise capital and create jobs.
Regarding student loans, Toomey said he expects much debate when Congress returns next week on plans to lower the rate that nearly doubled as of Monday. But he said another problem is the principal on the loans, the high cost of higher education.
“I think we have to ask why tuition is going up so much,” Toomey said. “Even if the interest rate on college loans is zero, kids still have a problem paying it back.”
Toomey said the Republican Party is looking toward the 2014 off-year election to win seats in Congress. He said six Senate seats would give the GOP control — a goal he said is not unreachable.
Toomey also opposed the recent immigration bill that was passed, and he said the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gay rights issues will probably put pressure on some of the 37 states that don’t recognize gay marriage.
“But that issue should be taken up by each individual state,” he said.