Reflections on Sen. Pat Toomey’s presentation to the PTC

By Reuben Dacher-Shapiro, PTC Graduate Intern

I am currently the graduate intern for the Pittsburgh Technology Council (PTC). My B.A. is in Philosophy, Politics, and Law and I am currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration at SUNY-Binghamton. Before a few weeks ago, I had never been to Pittsburgh. Being from upstate N. Y., I have little experience in and knowledge of the ‘tech world’ here. Over the next 50 days, I intend to take full advantage of this incredible opportunity by immersing myself in Pittsburgh’s tech community and the networking events the PTC offers. I will be publishing my insights from these experiences on TechBurgher throughout the summer.

Despite my temporary position with the Council, I still have the privilege of attending all of its events.  During the last week of May, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania discussed the new Federal Jobs act – a series of non-controversial legislative bills proposed by President Obama to get Americans back to work – at a PTC event.  While the Senator’s presentation was informative and engaging, it was his opening remarks that caught my attention.  Sen. Toomey opened his speech by ‘venting’ to the audience about some of the frustration he has experienced working with Congress. Most people who follow the news know that American Congress is a vehicle for political controversy and deliberation. Our Congress’ lack of ability to compromise and  pass bills which address the myriad of economic problems that plague the country is a contentious and frustrating issue for most Americans.  Seeing Sen. Toomey, who is mired in the constant bi-partisan struggle of American politics, express this sentiment was a welcome surprise.

Sen. Toomey is pro-business and is a strong advocate of reducing and eliminating taxes as a means of addressing our nation’s massive Federal debt.  In Congress, he has voted to reduce the capital gains tax, eliminate the estate tax, cut small business taxes, eliminate the “marriage penalty” and overall cut federal income taxes and other taxes by $958 billion over 10 years.  Despite Sen. Toomey’s propositions to help achieve a balanced Federal budget, the political motives of our nation’s congressmen and women have stymied his attempts at reducing our Federal debt.  Notwithstanding his frustrations, Sen. Toomey remains diligent and committed to pushing his reforms and improving our nation’s business climate.  We must not be discouraged but take the necessary steps to promote and advocate for a pro-business climate in the region. Whether you work for U.S. Steel or for a small startup, there are few things that you can do to promote the growth of the tech industry in this region:

  • Reach out to local and elected officials so that your voice is heard. Participate in the current discussion about regional economic development.
  • Contact your local trade association for information about networking events, seminars and the availability of other resources that can help your organization grow and prosper.
  • Communicate with other organizations in your field about your successes and failures.  Connect with other organizations and create a culture of information-sharing in the region.

While there are those, including myself, who do not agree with all of the politics of Sen. Toomey, it was his underlying message that won my support: be pro-active in the pursuit of your goals. While it is unlikely to ever pass through Congress, Sen. Toomey talked about the budget he proposed to achieve a balanced Federal budget.  By no means was this necessary or required by the Senator, but this action is emblematic of the work ethic and commitment that is needed by everyone, not just elected officials, to instill positive economic change in this country.

Within the context of the technology industry and Pittsburgh’s regional economy, Sen. Toomey’s message should not only be lauded but imitated. There is no doubt Pittsburgh is a burgeoning hub of economic and technological development but there is still tremendous room for growth and improvement. Regardless of the successes and failures that individuals and organizations may experience in the quest for economic prosperity we must maintain vigilant. Collectively adopting the ethos of Senator Toomey will facilitate present and future economic opulence not just for the tech industry but for the entire region.