Maybe he was jealous of the attention Rep. Paul Ryan was getting over in the House for his budget manifesto, a tax-slashing, entitlement-reforming document that got everyone talking -- even the President. Pat Toomey, with his balanced budget amendment, debt limit bill and Elton John song parody wasn't going to stand idly by and let this lower chamber whippersnapper run the Great Debt Debate.
So, as first reported by The Hill this morning, Toomey is writing a budget of his own, that he pitched to GOP colleagues Wednesday and is seen by "Republican aides" (anonymous aides grow on trees around here, for use by insider publications to provide conventional wisdom-y quotes) as being more politically viable in the Senate than the Ryan plan. Because if you listen to Democrats, Ryan's proposal will not only kill grandma but also give every billionaire the keys to a new Rolls.
Toomey's work was praised by Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the top Republican on the Budget Committee.
"He’s been working very hard on a serious proposal that would alter the debt course that we’re on and I’ve encouraged him in that," Sessions said today when I accosted him in the hallway. "And I've been very impressed with the amount of work he’s put into it. ... He’s been a leader in the idea that we've got to be serious about the challenges we face and be honest that it’s going to take changes in the way we do business, which I really value."
What's in this Toomey plan, you ask? Thus far, it's a state secret. Toomey resisted the grilling of yours truly and Colby Itkowtiz of the (Allentown) Morning Call today, refusing to say if and how he's tackling entitlements or military spending. He said the reception was generally positive from his colleagues, though only a vague outline was offered to them, and he might team up with other senators to pitch the proposal. Yet he was downright gabby about praising Ryan and slamming President Obama and Senate Democrats."I think it would be very helpful and constructive if Senate Republicans have a budget resolution we can offer. I've seen no interest from the Democratic side about doing anything about a budget, which is shocking," he said.
"I'm very disappointed that the president was as dismissive and as harsh including personally attacking Ryan, saying it wasn't serious and lacked courage was way out of bounds."
Toomey added that it was too early to say whether his budget would become the Senate Republican proposal. As Sessions noted, "Any member can offer anything."