Sen. Pat Toomey 'Terribly Disappointed' in Supercommittee's Failure

PHOTO: Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is interviewed on "This Week."
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Sen. Pat Toomey is upset that the congressional supercommittee he served on was not able to agree on major cuts to the deficit, but said he is "cautiously optimistic" that Congress can still work toward deficit reduction in the coming year.

"I am terribly disappointed," Toomey, R-Pa., told "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour. "I think our country would have benefited enormously from a constructive agreement by this committee.

"That's what I was hoping the supercommittee could address, some long-term reforms to bend the curves, put us on a sustainable fiscal path and still have strong economic growth by avoiding some kind of massive tax increase," Toomey said. "Obviously, we were unable to get there, because we come at this from very different perspectives. But I'm not going to give up our work on this."

After months of negotiations, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed to compromise on a bipartisan deal to cut the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion, as required by the debt ceiling agreement reached this summer.

That failure will trigger mandatory across-the-board cuts to defense and domestic program spending beginning in 2013.

"The silver lining is the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, which was the goal of the legislation that created our committee, will still go into effect," Toomey said. "I think it's important that some configuration of those cuts in fact happen."

Toomey however, said he believes that Congress can re-work the cuts to put less weight on reductions to the defense budget -- and in a way that does not cause President Obama to veto the effort.

"I think there's a broad consensus that too much of the cuts are weighted on our defense's capabilities and would really, really cut in deeply into our ability to defend this nation," Toomey said. "And so I think it's important that we change the configuration. I would be surprised if the president would simply veto every effort to make any changes."

Toomey added that he believes there are still prospects for continued negotiations on deficit reduction in the coming year. Toomey led one effort on the supercommittee that proposed raising $300 billion on revenues, but his proposal was rejected by Democrats who opposed permanently extending the Bush tax cuts and lowering the highest tax rates.

"I spoke with a number of Democratic senators who were not serving on the supercommittee, who thought that the plan that we put forward was very constructive, was reasonable," Toomey said. "So I think there's a chance to work with some of the more moderate members of the Democratic caucus who want to make progress, who realize how important this is. So I'm cautiously optimistic."

He also expects an extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of the year.

"We'll take that up, and I think probably some package of that with other features might very well pass," Toomey said.

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