Talks between President Barack Obama and U.S. House Republicans went in a positive direction Friday, and have left U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, feeling more optimistic than he's felt in some time, he said.
Toomey's hour-and-a-half discussion with the president zeroed in on the looming debt-ceiling crisis and the partial federal government shutdown.
"Any resolution would resolve both of those things. They're both very much linked together at this time," Toomey said.
"Now that the president is negotiating and participating, our chances of a resolution is enhanced," he said. "... There are a lot of conversations happening now. Communication is a necessary precondition to reaching a (solution)."
He noted the underlying problem that "got us here" is the "fiscal imbalance, the chronic deficits, the mounting debt and the drag it's imposing on our economy."
He emphasized he was never for using a government shutdown as a force tactic.
"I never thought it was a good idea on insisting we would shut down the government if we didn't defund Obamacare. As strongly opposed to Obamacare I am and remain, it's clear to me the president has a different point of view ... and he was never going to sign to negate what he considers his signature accomplishment," Toomey said. "I've always looked for a way to resolve this, and a way to make progress."
He still hopes the more "egregious" parts of Obamacare will be repealed, such as the medical device tax. Toomey claims two-thirds of Senate Democrats support that repeal.
His office has taken many calls from citizens upset about the political circus the government has created, he said.
As the debt-ceiling deadline is looming, Toomey said Obama has the authority to protect Social Security money in a worst-case scenario. He added he's introduced legislation that requires the treasury to pay.
Toomey hopes for a long-term resolution "so we don't find ourselves in this situation again in a few weeks." Ultimately, he hopes the underlying spending problem can be addressed. He pointed the blame to U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who he claimed didn't get a series of appropriations bills passed to fund the government.
The take-away lesson? "Reverting to the ordinary business of funding the government through a sensible process," Toomey said.