PA Democrats: Toomey a slave to The Street

You’re a Wall Street tool!

That was the message Pennsylvania Democratic Chairman T.J. Rooney delivered on Monday as he slammed the likely GOP Senate nominee, a former Wall Street trader, for opposing legislation to tighten regulation of financial markets – a preview of one of the fall campaign’s likely themes.

Pat Toomey, who represented a Lehigh Valley district in the House from 1999-2005, stood up for the “business as usual” that led to the nation’s financial meltdown nearly two years ago and the lingering recession, Rooney charged during a conference call.

The regulatory bill stalled in the Senate Monday because Democrats could not muster enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster to begin debate. The proposal would impose fees on banks to build a $50 billion fund for future financial-institution bailouts, and would put the sale of derivatives on a regulated public exchange.

“Any fabulous, high-flying, derivatives trading, Wall Street wonder kid should know how important these reforms are,” Rooney said.

Toomey opposed the measure as written because it would make permanent the “too big too fail” policy and lead to more taxpayer bailouts for failed banks, spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik said.

“When it comes to standing up for taxpayers against corporate excesses, Arlen Specter doesn’t have a leg to stand on,” Soloveichik said. “Specter’s taken millions of dollars from Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms, and then voted to bail out those corporations at taxpayers’ expense.” Toomey opposes the bailouts.

Rooney dismissed those as “tired Republican talking points.”

The proposed legislation has language spelling out that there is no guarantee of future bailouts, but opponents and many economists note that taxpayers would be on the hook for failures larger than the $50 billion contingency fund. They also note that banks would merely pass on the new fee to consumers. Toomey was a Wall Street trader two decades ago and traded in derivatives, and Democratic strategists believe that his ties to the markets and his support of deregulation will be liabilities.

The Republican has received a little more than $100,000 from employees and PACs of a host of Wall Street financial houses that received federal bailout money, according to CQ Moneyline, a publication that tracks campaign finance. But Specter, who has been leading the Democratic contest, has received more than $850,000 from banks, financial institutions and real-estate interests for his reelection fund over the past two years, according to

Toomey, with underfunded primary opposition, is expected to face the winner of the Democratic primary May 18 between Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak.