Pennsylvania Senate hopeful Dave McCormick lays out economic priorities

By Zachary Halaschak
Washington Examiner
April 12, 2024

EXCLUSIVE — Dave McCormick, the Republican contender in Pennsylvania’s Senate election, said he wants to use his experience as a prominent business executive to cut federal regulations and pare back the administrative state.

McCormick, 58, is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and a combat veteran who has made a major name for himself in the world of business and finance. After a few years of service in the Bush administration, he joined well-known hedge fund Bridgewater Associates. McCormick served as Bridgewater’s CEO from 2017 until 2022.

During an interview with the Washington Examiner this week, McCormick said farmers, business owners, and industry leaders across the state have told him that their biggest problem, other than inflation, is overregulation by the government.

Businesses are struggling, he said, under “more and more restrictions top-down from the government on fracking or pipeline permits or the [Food and Drug Administration] on food goods from farms.”

In targeting federal rules and the Biden administration’s economic record, McCormick is presenting a contrast with his Democratic opponent, incumbent Sen. Bob Casey. Casey, first elected in 2007, voted with Biden on 98.5% of votes from him entering office until early 2023, according to a tally by FiveThirtyEight.

Also, unlike McCormick, Casey has not blamed Biden for the current scourge of inflation. Instead, he’s sought to place blame on corporations. He introduced legislation this year to crack down on so-called shrinkflation, a portmanteau of “shrink” and “inflation,” referring to when companies try to save money without antagonizing customers by reducing the size or quantity of goods without raising the price.

McCormick said he favored the executive order issued by President Donald Trump that required that, for every new federal regulation implemented, two must be cut. Something similar is necessary to “bring reasonableness back to our regulatory oversight.” McCormick said.

“I really think this regulatory state issue is a big problem,” he explained. “And I think that we need to be very thoughtful, and I’d be doing this as a senator, on pushing our regulatory bodies and our executive branch to make sure that there’s a constant remarketing or mark to market on our regulations and what their implications are for business.”

He said that specifically rolling back energy-related regulations would be a major benefit for Pennsylvanians.

“Dealing with all the environmental restrictions, all the liabilities that are associated with drilling and transferring energy, liquid gas in particular, that is really key to our economic renewal,” McCormick said.

Slashing the administrative state has become an increasingly salient issue among Republicans on Capitol Hill because of the rulemaking by the Biden administration.

Last year, the House passed the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act. Introduced by Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL), the legislation would require that every new major rule be approved by Congress before going into effect.

Additionally, this year, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) introduced legislation that would require all major rules to expire 10 years after they are enacted unless approved by both chambers of Congress under a joint resolution.

McCormick said that he also thinks lawmakers should have more oversight when it comes to federal rulemaking, arguing that regulatory bodies have become increasingly political.

“You have to think about the checks and balances. One of the checks that Congress should impose on the executive branch and the regulatory agencies is reasonableness, and I do think a much higher standard of cost-benefit analysis on regulations that are put into place,” he said.

McCormick placed blame for the past few years of high inflation on excess spending under Biden. Since Biden entered office, on average, prices are about 19% higher.

“The drivers of that inflation are the huge uptick in spending — Republicans and Democrats alike have been spending too much,” he said.

When Biden entered office, he immediately pushed through a massive $1.9 trillion pandemic spending bill, which didn’t receive a single Republican vote. Among the items in the legislation was a temporarily supercharged child tax credit, which cut checks for people each month. Many Republicans argued that the infusion of spending supercharged inflation, although Democrats note that former President Donald Trump also enacted major COVID-19-era stimulus legislation.

The most recent Biden budget, revealed this year, calls for $7.3 trillion in spending and $5.5 trillion in tax revenue for fiscal 2025, bringing the deficit for the year to nearly $1.8 trillion.

In order to rein in spending, he supports adding a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution — something long favored by Republicans. McCormick also called for dramatic spending cuts to Biden-era programs.

On the trade front, McCormick said while he generally opposes tariffs, he thinks they may be necessary at times in order to make trade between countries fairer, a reciprocity he said has been lost with China, for instance.

Trump is running on implementing tariffs. He has floated 10% across-the-board tariffs, something that free trade proponents argue would further fuel inflation. Restrictive trade policies are often supported by labor unions, who believe they will keep jobs stateside. McCormick’s opponent, Casey, has leaned heavily on union support.

“Listen, I actually thought that the steel tariffs that Trump put in place as a source of leverage for negotiations could be sensible,” McCormick said. “What I will say is, I’m generally not in favor of tariffs, but … I am in favor of tariffs used thoughtfully and strategically to try to ensure that we’re able to achieve fair trade and reciprocity.”

McCormick previously lost an exceedingly close — the margin was less than 1,000 votes — GOP primary election in 2022 to Mehmet Oz, who went on to lose the general election to Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA).

When asked about possible future Senate colleagues and whom he aligns with ideologically, McCormick said there is no single senator that he is solely trying to emulate and emphasized his background as the CEO of multiple companies and his experience in the military.

However, McCormick said he has a great deal of respect for Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Steve Daines (R-MT).

“They’re hard-core national security, strong conservatives, they believe in free markets, free enterprise,” McCormick said.

McCormick is also very pro-cryptocurrency. He recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Examiner in which he advocated American leadership on the cryptocurrency front.

“First, these technologies are grounded in principles such as individual freedom, limited government, and privacy, which, as a conservative, I hold dear,” he wrote. “Conducting transactions through blockchain eliminates powerful and oftentimes expensive intermediaries, making the financial system more accessible.”

The November election is expected to be a close race between McCormick and Casey. The significance of the election is compounded by the fact that winning Pennsylvania is a key priority for the Trump campaign in its effort to unseat Biden.