John K. Manna
New Castle News
WEST MIDDLESEX —
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey made clear yesterday his stiff opposition to Obamacare.
“I would defund all of Obamacare today if I could,” he said at a legislative luncheon at the Park Inn in West Middlesex. The luncheon was hosted by six chambers of commerce from Lawrence and Mercer counties.
However, the Republican senator said if the government were to shut down as some of his GOP colleagues have suggested, 85 percent of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) “still goes ahead.”
Most of Obamacare, he said, is funded outside of the appropriation process.
Congress is facing a Sept. 30 deadline for passing a continuing resolution to keep the government funded. Some Republican senators advocate that money for Obamacare be eliminated in a funding measure.
Toomey, though, expressed confidence that the government could avoid a shutdown.
On Obamacare, he said he hopes that ultimately, “we can dismantle as much as we can and repeal it.”
Toomey said it needs to be repealed because it is causing health care costs to increase and is “damaging our economy.”
Besides Obamacare, the accumulation of debt is hindering economic growth and investment, he said. Keeping spending under control, reforming the tax code and pushing back on some of the federal regulations would spur the economy.
“I’m absolutely convinced we could have a normal economic growth. I hope we cannot accept this (current situation) as the new normal.
During a question and answer period with the audience, one woman praised Obamacare, noting the benefits it provides for women’s health. She asked Toomey what his alternative would be if Obamacare “is crushed.”
Toomey responded, “My proposal is personal and economic freedom. Should the federal government force people to have the benefits they don’t really want?”
He said he favors changing the tax code to allow individuals the same tax deduction that employers now have for health insurance. He argued that it would give individuals more control and provide them with more choices.
Toomey was asked about the amendment he and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin proposed regarding background checks on gun purchases. It would have expanded checks to gun shows and Internet sales.
The amendment received only 55 votes, five short of ending Senate debate.
“I thought it a sensible place to find common ground,” he said, adding that in his view it is not an infringement on the Second Amendment.
“I still think it is the right policy and would revisit it if I thought we could get the votes. I think we still don’t have the votes.”