Biden’s budget is a ‘gesture to the radical left,’ Pa.’s Toomey says | Wednesday Morning Coffee

The millionaire former Wall Streeter teed off on the tax policy measures in an interview with CNBC

March 30, 2022 7:08 am
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., talks to CNBC's 'Squawk Box' program on Tuesday, 3/29/22 (Screen Capture).

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., talks to CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ program on Tuesday, 3/29/22 (Screen Capture).

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

To help you ease into this hump day, we’re going to take the easy way out, and hit you with one of those ‘water is wet, sun rises in the east’ kind of stories.

During an appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box program on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey had all the thoughts about the $5.8 trillion budget request that President Joe Biden dropped off at the U.S. Capitol on Monday, fresh off his mic drop moment in Warsaw last weekend.

The budget, which calls for a billionaire’s tax, along with $915 billion for domestic and foreign aid programs, is “a big gesture to the radical left—the wing of the Democrats that don’t like capitalism,” Toomey told CNBC (you can watch it here).

Toomey, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, and a millionaire former Wall Streeter, had plenty to say about the tax policy matters in Biden’s spending blueprint.

“When I look at these proposals: the huge tax increase on income, on corporate income, the so-called billionaires’ tax, … this is not going to happen,” Toomey said, according to a transcript his office released, hammering home the reality that presidential budget plans are rarely passed in their original form.

Speaking to CNBCToomey also made it clear that he’s not a fan of language in Biden’s budget that looks to discourage corporations from using profits to repurchase stocks to line executives’ pockets.

Under the White House’s plan, already preposterously wealthy company executives would be required to hang onto their shares for several years after taking them, and they’d be barred from selling them in the years after a buyback, according to Reuters.

“A stock buyback is simply the economically rational, sensible, responsible thing to do when the management of a company decides they cannot productively employ marginal capital,” Toomey harrumphed. “They have an obligation to return it to the people who own the company. The beauty of the mechanism is you as an investor can decide whether you want to sell or not. That’s exactly what should happen in a free society, in a free market economy. This vilification of stock buybacks is completely ridiculous.”

Unless, of course, you consider the reality that, in 2020, the ratio of CEO-to-typical-worker compensation was 351-to-1, according to the Economic Policy Institute. So being forced to hang onto stock a little longer does not exactly constitute an economic hardship. Unless, of course, you’re trying to pay off that second yacht.

President Joe Biden talks on the phone with Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) following the Senate vote to pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, Aug. 10, 2021, in the Oval Office Dining Room of the White House. (Adam Schultz/Official White House Photo)

Toomey also had some thoughts about tax fairness, which probably sounded great bouncing around the C-Suite, but substantially less so if, like the majority of American workers, you made the average of $51,480 last year.

“Our Democratic colleagues usually justify all of their various, creative ways of raising taxes as a way to make sure that the wealthy are paying their ‘fair share.’ The top 1% of Americans earn about 20% of all of the income and pay about 40% of all the income taxes,” he said. “Paying twice the rate of what their income is in terms of the percentage of total taxes is somehow not fair. . . It’s worth asking the question to my Democratic colleagues ‘what is fair?’”

Before you start crying crocodile tears for the poor billionaires backstroking their way through their piles of cash like Uncle Scrooge McDuck, consider this ingot from Americans for Tax Fairness: “The richest 1% pay an effective federal income tax rate of 24.7%. That is a little more than the 19.3% rate paid by someone making an average of $75,000. And 1 out of 5 millionaires pays a lower rate than someone making $50,000 to $100,000.”

(U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)

After all that, however, Toomey could end up being proven dead-on right. With the midterms approaching, and Democrats facing the very real possibility of losing one or both chambers on Capitol Hill, there is a certain sense of urgency to their current proposals/

“I think anything that gets 50 Democrat Senate votes and [Vice President] Kamala Harris breaking a tie will pass the House would then get signed by President [Joe] Biden,” he said.

“But, I think that gig is up at the end of this year. I think Republicans are going to take control of the House and the Senate,” Toomey continued. “Then we aren’t going to be having conversations about these crazy new ways to raise taxes on people who already pay a lot of taxes. That’s why our Democratic colleagues feel a lot of pressure to do something quickly. They know the clock’s running.”

Members of the Pennsylvania House applaud newly elected Speaker Bryan Cutler on June 22, 2020. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

Our Stuff.
Between new maps and an engaged, angry electorate, the 253-member Pennsylvania General Assembly could look dramatically different at this time next year. Stephen Caruso takes stock of a rash of legislative retirements and incumbent-on-incumbent primaries that will reshape the House and Senate.

The House Education Committee voted Tuesday to move a bill that would exclude transgender athletes from competing on women’s sports team in the commonwealth, Cassie Miller reports.

Hours after that vote, LGBTQ advocates and allies held an emotional rally in the Capitol rotunda, where they urged the bill’s defeat, I report.

The top official at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and a senior state lawmaker are urging Pennsylvanians to lend their voices to planned revisions to a key state policy intended to give more residents a voice in important regulatory decisions, I also report.

In conjunction with Philadelphia City CouncilMayor Jim Kenney partnered with the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and 211 Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) to announce a new 24-hour violence prevention hotline, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

On our Commentary Page this morning: Local governments are attractive targets for hackers and they’re ill-prepared, a University of Maryland, Baltimore County scholar writes. And there are limits to the American Renaissance over Ukraine, opinion regular Bruce Ledewitz writes.

(Image via

Spotlight PA takes a look at the state’s ‘broken’ compassionate release program for incarcerated people (via the Inquirer).

A former prisoner at Allegheny County Jail says the lack of care cost him his leg, the Post-Gazette reports.

Nearly two days after a deadly, 50-car accident, a stretch of Interstate 81 in Schuylkill County has reopenedPennLive reports.

LancasterOnline looks at one group’s efforts to let independent voters cast ballots in party primaries.

The Morning Call surveys the Lehigh Valley’s redrawn political topography as we head into primary season.

GoErie runs down the May primary ballot in Erie County.

PoliticsPA examines the importance of a candidate’s ballot position.

Officials in Luzerne County have deadlocked on a vote for a new county manager, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

A Chester County judge has ordered the removal of all five Democratic members of the West Chester Area School District in a months-long dispute over a mask mandate, WHYY-FM reports.

WITF-FM’s Smart Talk program takes up the growing opposition to tolling the South Bridge over Interstate 83 in Dauphin County.

City & State Pa. runs down the latest endorsements in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race.

Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate have some thoughts about President Joe Biden’s proposed defense budgetRoll Call reports.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day … Let the debate begin:

What Goes On
The House come in at 11 a.m., the Senate wanders in at its customary 1 p.m.
10 a.m., Main Rotunda: Souls Shot Portrait Project display kickoff
10:30 a.m., Ryan Building: Reps. John Lawrence & Dan Moul on bills to help dairy farmers
11 a.m., Main Rotunda: FairDistricts PA ‘Fix Harrisburg’ rally, calling for reforms to make the Legislature function more smoothly.
12 p.m., Main Rotunda: We the People and lawmakers rally for using American Rescue Plan funds to make direct payments to people to afford rising costs

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
8 am.: Breakfast for Sen. Maria Collett
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. Joe Pittman
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Tracy Pennycuick
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Joe Kerwin
Ride the circuit, give at the max, and, in addition to rocketingly high cholesterol, you’ll be out a slightly ridiculous $5,000 today.

Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule as of this writing. That can, and often does, change during the course of the day.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s one from Kae Tempest, featuring Kevin Abstract, that I’m pretty sure we all can relate to — it’s ‘More Pressure.’

Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
Carolina lost a toughie, dropping a 4-3 decision to Tampa in overtime on Tuesday night.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.