The Morning Call
Sen. Toomey: Obama’s warped sense of fairness
By U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey
As a parent, I try to teach my three children the value of fairness. My wife and I encourage them to work hard and enjoy their successes. Children being children, they sometimes try to test the limits of this system. When they break the rules or attempt to skate by without effort, we try to teach them that there are consequences for their actions. We all know that "life isn’t fair" but my wife and I believe – and want our children to believe – that their perseverance and resolve will pay off in the end.
So when the president called for fairness in his State of the Union address last week, I wanted to embrace the theme. Who doesn’t like fairness? But I was disappointed to learn that President Obama has an altogether different definition of fairness.
In his speech, the president argued for achieving fairness by using the government to exact punishment on people who have done nothing wrong and have broken no rules. Instead, his only criterion for exacting punishment is success. In the name of fairness, he called for higher taxes on those who have been deemed to make too much money and on risk takers who invest in our economy.
The president’s vision of fairness is defined by his fundamental faith in government. Government certainly has a role to play in creating an environment conducive to wealth creation and success and punishing those who break the rules. But instead of allowing people to rise and fall on their own merits, the president believes that Washington should be picking winners and losers based on his own political judgment. During the past three years, he has practiced this notion of fairness to the detriment of the American people and our economy.
Was it fair to bail out the big banks and some of the auto companies on the backs of their competitors and the American taxpayer? Was it fair to pile up trillions of dollars in debt, forcing our children and grandchildren to pay for our mistakes down the road? Was it fair to dump $500 million of taxpayer dollars in a nearly bankrupt Solyndra? Is it fair to reject the Keystone XL pipeline project which will create thousands of jobs at the behest of a few environmental special-interest groups?
The president’s concept of fairness does not appear to be very fair or consistent. It is an ever shifting concept that is defined by the maxim that government knows best.
The traditional American notion of fairness means giving people an opportunity to succeed, and when they do, allowing them to enjoy the fruits of their hard work. When rules are broken, the rule breakers need to be held accountable – no matter who they are and no matter who they know.
Under this notion of fairness, American companies should have the ability to compete with their foreign competitors by lowering one of the world’s highest tax rates – rates that encourage our companies to move overseas. Instead of punishing companies who go to more business friendly climates, let’s remove the regulatory and tax burdens that make America a needlessly challenging place to do business. Instead of investing American tax dollars in failing companies such as Solyndra, let’s help Americans keep more of their hard-earned money and make decisions about how to spend and invest their money themselves.
I want my children to grow up believing that if they work hard, study hard and play by the rules, they can achieve their dreams. I don’t want them to look to government for approval, for permission to be successful, or for subsidies or bailouts.
America’s greatness doesn’t lie in Washington. It doesn’t depend on the maze of government bureaucracies that carries out the president’s edicts. Our greatness and our spirit lies in the people of the towns and cities like the ones I visit in Pennsylvania, where people work hard on their farms, in their factories and in their businesses. Pennsylvanians are capable of unimaginable successes – if only the government will step back and let them.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey is a Republican from Upper Milford Township.
U.S Senator Pat Toomey
502 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510