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December 04, 2017

WATCH: Sen. Toomey defends 'Hillsdale College' amendment, speedy tax-legislation process

Senator also maintains that 'virtually all low- and middle-income families will owe less'

Opinion Taxes
Pat Toomey Brian Hickey/PhillyVoice

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey fields questions during a press conference on Monday, December 4, 2017 regarding the tax-reform measure which passed his legislative body several days earlier.

Most Philadelphia-based stories about U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey tend to involve people protesting outside his local office every Tuesday.

Today isn’t Tuesday, though. It’s the Monday after a controversial tax-reform bill – which Toomey, as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, “played a key role” in creating – narrowly passed the legislative body.

On this day, Toomey held a press event in a conference room on the second floor of the U.S. Custom House in Old City “to discuss the tax reform measure and what the next steps are for the bill.”

Despite rampant doom-and-gloom reactions, Toomey put a bright spin on the measure in a two-fold sense. 

He presented it as legislation that “definitely lowers the tax burden on low-income and middle-income working families.”

“That is an unambiguous fact,” he said,

He also presented it as legislation that – if it becomes the law of the land – will make America great again (provided American businesses buy American products that help make their workers more productive because productive workers are the life-force of the little engine that could).

That’s quite a leap of faith, of course, expecting businesses to use the money they’ll save on taxes for the betterment of their employees and customers. 

After all, Toomey's rosy spin on the reform all but depends on it. (And who knows: Maybe they will!)

He broached several other issues during the event, so here are 10 quotes that highlight the spirit of the 20-minute presser:

On the impact locally: “The net effect is going to be tax savings for the folks that I represent. … Virtually all low- and middle-income families will owe less tax money to the federal government when this becomes law.”

On the business provisions: “We fundamentally restructure the business tax code so that American workers and businesses can compete in a global economy so that we can attract investment so that we can have the type of economic growth that we used to take for granted in this country but for the last eight or nine years really hasn’t been what it ought to be.”

On Pennsylvanians subsidizing 'people who live in Upper West Side penthouses': “Pennsylvanians who have modest or average state and local taxes have to pay more in federal income taxes to offset the fact that people who live in penthouses on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, or in San Francisco, where they used to have unbelievably high state and local taxes. Why should we have to subsidize them? I don’t think that’s fair. This is a step in the direction of greater fairness.”

On the controversial Hillsdale College amendment:

On the risk of voters turning against the legislation’s crafters: “As a general rule, I’ve always been convinced that good policy is good politics. If we do the right thing for our economy and the people we represent, the people will recognize that when it comes time for elections.”

On the current temporary status of the cuts: “It’s my intention to continue to try to make these lower taxes permanent. I think we’ll have a very good opportunity to do that long before we reach the expiration at the end of 2025.”

On the impact on multinational businesses: “If a company operates overseas and tries to sell their product back into the U.S., we have a way of capturing the value of those sales. There’s not going to be an incentive to leave this country. The incentives are all going to be to invest here in America.”

On complaints about the rushed nature of Friday night’s vote:

On where it goes from here: “My hope is we get it to (President Donald Trump’s) desk before the end of the year. I think it’d be a terrific Christmas present for Pennsylvanians if they know their tax burden is going down and the economy is almost certainly going to respond very positively to these changes.”