Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R.-Pa.) became president of the Club For Growth only a month ago, but he’s already stirring up trouble for moderate and liberal Republicans on Capitol Hill. Three lawmakers–and more to come–are the targets of the club’s multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to promote President Bush’s Social Security reforms. Toomey succeeded Stephen Moore (HUMAN EVENTS’ economic affairs correspondent) at the Club For Growth only days after finishing his third term as a conservative Pennsylvania congressman. (Moore has since started the Free Enterprise Fund.) Toomey, who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Arlen Specter (R.) in the state’s GOP primary last year, plans to create a congressional scorecard to track members’ votes on economic issues. “We’re taking names and we’re going to let our members know,” he told HUMAN EVENTS. Social Security reform tops the club’s agenda, and with a $10-million investment for advertising and operations, Toomey plans to pressure moderate Republicans who appear to be wavering about personal retirement accounts. Last week the club began running ads in the home state of Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.) and the districts of Representatives Sherwood Boehlert (N.Y.) and Joe Schwarz (Mich.). More members can expect to see the ads in their hometowns, Toomey promised. When asked if the club’s ads were a prelude to what could be expected next year during GOP primaries–all three of the club’s early targets are up for re-election–Toomey said it was simply too early to make any predictions. However, he said the club wouldn’t waver from its tradition of targeting the GOP’s liberal wing. “Anywhere we’ve got an opportunity to make a pickup, we’re going to weigh in,” Toomey said. “If it’s an incumbent Republican, and we’ve got a good challenger who’s credible and great on our issues, then absolutely.” Toomey also told HUMAN EVENTS he was mostly pleased with President Bush’s agenda for Social Security, although he was somewhat disappointed the plan suggested by the White House would initially cap at $1,000 the amount of money workers could save each year and would delay enrollment until 2009. “It’s hard to imagine we’re going to get a better Social Security reform bill than what the administration’s proposing,” he said. “And unfortunately, they’ve already made some concessions that I would have rather not seen.” Still, the President’s agenda meshes quite well with the club’s prerogatives. “It’s basically the same as what we would be recommending,” he said. After Social Security, Toomey said he was prepared to work aggressively to reform the tax code, make Bush’s first-term tax cuts permanent and enact tort reform.
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