By Laura Vecsey
Pat Toomey kicked off his talk about the nation's economy at the Pennsylvania Press Club by addressing what he called the dramatic lack of recovery.
Specifically, he pointed to jobs.
"There's a dramatic lack of job growth, compared to previous recessions," Toomey said Monday.
A sharp speaker with a commanding arsenal of free-market ideology talking points, Toomey said the federal response to the economic meltdown has been abysmal.
"It's abnormal to have this kind of performance, and that's due to the badly flawed policies" of several key people.
Toomey identified them as President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, Toomey's Democratic opponent in Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race.
Whether or not that's entirely true, Toomey and Sestak, the former Navy admiral, have another 11 weeks to convince Pennsylvania voters.
There may not be another race in the country this mid-term election year where two more ideological opposites are hitting the campaign trail -- and each other.
However, for the moment, by comparing job statistics from the recovery of this recession -- if indeed there is a recovery going on -- to previous recession-recovery periods, Toomey made a calculated choice:
Make all U.S. recessions since the Depression sound equal.
That could be construed as pretty big news, at least to former President George Bush, former U.S. Treasurer Henry Paulson and everyone else on all sides of the aisle who said bailouts were the only way to stave off the Great Depression Part II.
Toomey says he would have let everything collapse and let the free market forces create new companies.
"The serial bailouts ... were a huge misallocation of resources. It is unfair to taxpayers [and has] a chilling effect on business," Toomey said.
Toomey is indeed tightly and, so far, effectively honing his critique of the economic remedies put in play by the Obama administration while deflecting criticism that policies he supported helped lead to the meltdown.
"They've got a very creative and fictitious account ... but blaming me for the financial crisis is a bit of a stretch," Toomey said.
The 1999 legislation that eased banking oversight regulation passed with 92 votes and got President Bill Clinton's signature, Toomey said.
"That bill didn't allow banks to do what they did. It was one of the constructive achievements of the Clinton administration," he said.
Likewise, Toomey has been adept at deflecting criticism that he is a friend of Wall Street.
"Joe Sestak voted to bail out Wall Street firms, so ask Joe Sestak who was more supportive of Wall Street," Toomey said, issuing one of his better campaign zingers for the day.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said Monday that it has booked three weeks of television time to help Sestak in mid-October -- a slew of ads that will cost more than $4 million.
The thinking is that Sestak might be able to close Toomey's current nine-point poll lead just as Sestak did in the closing days of the Democratic primary campaign against Sen. Arlen Specter.
Specter lost to Sestak, but it was Toomey who pushed Specter out of the Republican Party. That process started well before April 15, 2009, when Toomey announced his run against Specter in the GOP primary.
Toomey was president of the Club for Growth, the limited government, free-market group that, with backing from Wall Street financiers, has successfully purged moderate Republicans from Congress.
On Monday, as former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska announced that he would appear in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia today in support of Sestak, Toomey was asked what makes a good Republican Party member.
It seemed a fitting question, as the Republican Party attempts to reconcile itself to more conservative ideals. Toomey was not the first choice of Pennsylvania Republican Party officials to run for U.S. Senate.
"My argument is that Republicans are a big party. We need a majority of support. We have to tolerate disagreement, and on social issues, foreign policy and tax codes, reasonable people can disagree," Toomey said.
"What unites [Republicans is a belief] in the limits in the size and scope of the federal government," he said.
For one moment, at least, the buzzwords "Wall Street" were not invoked.