Pa. Dems hit Toomey in new web ad over aid to Big Business in CARES Act | Monday Morning Coffee

May 4, 2020 7:28 am

(YouTube screen capture)

(*The emailed version of this story incorrectly attributed comments about the role of the Congressional oversight commission to Toomey spokesman Steve Kelly. It is reporting by The Hill, a publication that covers Congress. We regret the error.)

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Pennsylvania Dems are out with a new digital spot hitting U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., over an emerging dispute over how to hold the Federal Reserve Board and the Treasury Department accountable as it doles out billions of dollars in loan money authorized by the CARES Act.

As Politico reports, the “fault lines” in the congressional panel charged with exercising oversight on the lending pit Toomey, a former Wall Streeter, against Bharat Ramamurti, a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., whose hostility to Big Money is well-established.

According to PoliticoRamamurti believes the Fed should restrict stock buybacks and executive bonuses for large corporations that are the beneficiaries of taxpayer largesse. He also believes that midsize firms should face conditions that include limitations on corporate outsourcing, Politico reports.

Not so for Toomey, who was tapped by noted Sith Lord Mitch McConnell, for the oversight panel.

“The Fed’s role is to comply with the statute,” Toomey said, according to Politico. “If Congress had wanted those restrictions to be in place, it would’ve been in the statute.”

As you might expect, Pa. Dems pounced on Toomey’s comments like the guy in “Oliver!” bellowing “Moooorreee??? You wanntttt moorreee!!???” 

A 60-second YouTube spot shows the unseen hand of corporate America penning thank you notes to Toomey for the loans authorized by the CARES Act. They include airline, oil and cruise line execs.

Pat Toomey is letting millionaires get away with using taxpayer funded bailout funds to write themselves big checks,” Beth Melena, a spokesperson for the state party said in an email. “Pat Toomey’s looking out for millionaires and billionaires because he only works for the rich and powerful. When will Pat Toomey start working for us?”

Here’s the part where we get to the nuance.

In an email, Toomey’s spokesman, Steve Kelly, accused Dems of faulty fact-checking, noting that the oversight panel’s purview doesn’t include small businesses, pointing to reporting by The Hill, a publication that covers Congress.

*”Lawmakers established the five-person congressional oversight commission as part of their deal on the massive $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package passed by Congress late last month,” The Hill reported. “The panel is charged with monitoring the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve’s handling of the $500 billion in aid to impacted industries like airlines included in the bill.”

And while he acknowledged that Toomey wanted to offer loans to the airline industry, Kelly pointed to a Washington Post story which shows Democrats wanted to offer grants to the industry.

“It didn’t end up in the place I thought was ideal,” Toomey said, according to the Post, adding that the assistance offered to a variety of industries “will do a tremendous amount of good.”

While it’s far from perfect, the Senate version of the CARES Act did include, as NPR reports, $560 billion in assistance to individuals, including those direct cash payments of as much as $2,900.

Aid to small business in the Senate package was nearly equaled by assistance to large corporations at $500 billion. And as a member of the majority party in the Senate, Toomey was in a position at the time to shift that balance. As we know, that ended up not happening in the bill, which sailed through the majority Democrat House before landing on President Donald Trump’s desk.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
Associate Editor Cassie Miller
 leads our coverage this morning, taking a look at how cable news coverage has warped (or not) Americans’ perceptions of the pandemic. That’s this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket.

From our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune: A new study shows low recidivism rates among Philly juvenile lifers who were released from prison.

From our partners at the Pittsburgh Current: Despite the pandemic, Blacks at the COVID-19 riddled Allegheny County jail face inequities in bookings and releases.

From the weekend: State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, says she doesn’t know when Allegheny County and SWPA might emerge from lockdown — despite some optimistic pronouncements from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

On our Commentary Page, opinion regular Dick Polman reminds us it’s equally important to watch what the Trump White House does, as what it says. And a York College of Pa. scholar has some tips on surviving #WFHLife if you haven’t worked it out for yourself already.

Temple University in Philadelphia (Photo via Flickr Commons)

Temple University’s
 president says the school has opted against furloughs for now, the Inquirer reports.
The Trans organization SisTers PGH has created BroThers PGHa program aimed at trans menPittsburgh City Paper reports.
An Erie woman diagnosed with the coronavirus was jailed for refusing to self-isolate, which caused 30 people to go into quarantinePennLive reports.
The Morning Call looks at the hit that Lehigh Valley school districts’ budgets have taken from COVID-19. But tax increases aren’t likely.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day.

Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware will buy supplies with other states, WHYY-FM reports.
Pennsylvania will try to test 8,500 residents a day, below the 19,000 that experts say is necessary, the PA Post reports. looks at the assistance states are providing to gig workers.
Congress returns to work this Monday morning with procedures in place to safeguard lawmakers, Roll Call reports.

What Goes On.
The House comes in at 1 p.m. The Senate is off today. And there’s still plenty of (virtual) committee fun.

In the Senate:

In the House:

    Remotely via video conferencing Zoom, 9 a.m.
    Room 140 Main Capitol, 12:00 p.m

Time TBD: Daily COVID-19 briefing

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to PolitcsPA Managing Editor John Cole, who completes another trip ’round the sun today. Congrats and enjoy the day, sir.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s an old favorite from Coldplay that popped up over the weekend. It’s “Ink,” from 2014’s “Ghost Stories.”

Monday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link. 
runs down the 30 biggest pop culture moments for every major league team.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.