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Jump on the Toomey-for-OMB Bandwagon

Conservatives are rallying around former Rep. Pat Toomey to serve as Josh Bolten’s replacement at the Office of Management and Budget. Bolten on Monday was promoted to President Bush’s chief of staff and will soon vacate his job as director of OMB.

I had lunch with Toomey today, and despite the Toomey-for-OMB drumbeat, the former Pennsylvania congressman and current president of the Club for Growth said he’s not yet heard anything from the White House.

My colleague, John Gizzi, dreamed up the Toomey-for-OMB idea in November 2004 after Toomey was left without a job (following his close loss in the Pennsylvania Republican primary to liberal Sen. Arlen Specter).

Shortly after Bush tapped Bolten to replace Andrew Card yesterday, I revived the idea. (The item got picked up by Washington Examiner today for all D.C.-area readers.)

Bolten’s departure from OMB gives the President an opportunity to install a fiscal conservative in that job. Former Rep. Pat Toomey, president of the Club for Growth, would be an ideal choice.

It didn’t take long for others to jump on the bandwagon. Writing for RedState.com and his own blog, RightSided.org, Mark A. Kilmer put it this way:

Toomey’s bona fides as a fiscal conservative are unassailable, and he has experience in the market: as a small businessman and in the investment industry.

Most importantly to the base should be that Pat Toomey is the former U.S. Congressman (R-PA) who Pennsylvania’s conservatives supported in the ’04 GOP primary against liberal Republican Arlen Specter. Toomey captured the hearts and imaginations of conservatives statewide and is one of the rare politicians who started a movement. In Pennsylvania, there are folks who refer to themselves as "Pat Toomey conservatives."

Getting Pat Toomey on board, putting Pat Toomey on the team, could enliven fiscal conservatives who haven’t had much to shout about from this Administration since the President’s tax cuts. It would also help the resume of a talented conservative for when or if he decides to seek public office in the future.

When Larry Kudlow weighed in for Toomey on his blog, Money Politic$, yesterday afternoon, the ball really got rolling:

Now that OMB Director Josh Bolten has replaced Andy Card as White House Chief of Staff, here’s a pitch for former House member Pat Toomey to replace Bolten at OMB.

Toomey, who now runs The Club for Growth, is a hard-headed budget cutter, with a strong supply-side tax position and a dedicated free trade view. He is closely aligned with the Mike Pence/Republican Study Committee folks in the House.

Putting Toomey in charge of the White House budget office would send a strong signal of smaller government, lower taxes and free trade—all crucial pro-growth policy elements.

At that point, Andy Roth at Toomey’s own Club for Growth was left little choice but to respond. On his blog, Roth analyzed the possible scenario for a Toomey confirmation battle:

The right side of the blogosphere is chattering up a storm about how Pat Toomey, the Club’s president, should be nominated by President Bush to replace Josh Bolton as OMB Director (Bolton is replacing Andy Card as Bush’s chief of staff).

If that happened, can you imagine the confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee?

Senator Susan Collins: “You are hostile to moderates. Besides, dynamic scoring is phooey. My vote is NO.”

Senator Ted Stevens: “What are your thoughts on pork spending? Nevermind. My vote is NO.”

Senator George Voinovich: “I’m still sore over those vicious attack ads that the Club ran against me in 2003. My constituents are still calling me ‘Frenchie’. My vote is NO.”

Senator Lincoln Chafee: “You are the bane of my existence. My vote is NO.”

Senator Tom Coburn: No questions. You rock, Pat. My vote is YES.

By my count, the final vote would be 5 YES and 11 NO, which of course would further confirm that Congress doesn’t look too favorably towards fiscal conservatives who have the backbone to fight for lower taxes and limited government.

Finally, after a day of floating in the blogosphere, Toomey’s name popped up on TV when the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund mentioned him on Kudlow’s program:

Larry, I’ll make a prediction. There are going to be two changes soon. One may well be the secretary treasury. But we also now have to get a new OMB budget chief because Josh Bolten is moving over to the chief of staff’s job. I have two candidates: John Cogan of the Hoover Institution and Pat Toomey of the Club for Growth.

Will the Toomey-for-OMB rumors become reality? The man at the center of them doesn’t think so, he told me. And besides, he said he’s happy to be where he’s at with the Club for Growth—promoting fiscal conservatives running for office.

Written By

Mr. Bluey, a contributing editor to Human Events, is director of the Center for Media & Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation. He maintains a blog at RobertBluey.com.

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