Sen. Portman: Obama Budget 'Worse Than I Expected'

Image: Sen. Portman: Obama Budget 'Worse Than I Expected'

Thursday, 06 Mar 2014 04:28 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Sen. Rob Portman says President Barack Obama's proposed 2015 budget, released Tuesday, does nothing to help the economy.

"It's worse than I expected to be honest with you. Yeah, you know, it's a political year and you expect the president not to make the tough decisions, but on the other hand, look at this. We've got the weakest economic recovery since the great depression," Portman told Newsmax TV's John Bachman on "America's Forum" Thursday.

"We've got the congressional budget office that is this nonpartisan group. They just came forward a couple of weeks ago and said 'gosh, the debt is getting worse not better.' And yet, when you look at the president's budget, he does nothing to help the economy because he has 1.2 trillion dollars of taxes and he does nothing on the spending side because he doesn't touch the parts of the budget that are exploding in growth. Instead, he actually increases spending."

The Ohio Republican, who has been in office since 2011, declared, "It's not a budget that's not responsive to what's going on. It's not going to get the economy moving and it's not going to deal with debt in deficit that we're leaving for our kids and grandkids, which obviously is something that is immoral. We don't want to do that. It's also affecting today's economy by not dealing with it."

Portman previously served as the 14th United States Trade Representative from 2005 to 2006 and as the 35th Director of the Office of Management and Budget from 2006 to 2007.

He also worked briefly in the White House during the first G.W. Bush administration before entering the House of Representatives, representing the eastern half of Greater Cincinnati and neighboring counties along the Ohio River, serving six consecutive terms.

Portman maintained that Obama's proposal goes far beyond what was agreed to in the bipartisan budget put forward by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

"It's wrong for us at a time when we're struggling with a record level of debt after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office tells us only a couple of weeks ago that it's getting worse, not better. In other words, higher levels of red ink for the president to submit a budget that has so much more spending, so much more borrowing, so much more taxes," he said.

"They're also saying now that they don't want to have a budget this year, but having a budget is really important. I think Paul Ryan's going to have one again. It's sort of your vision, your blueprint for the next 10 years because budgets run a 10-year window. It is about what the caps are which, again, I hoped they've been decided in the Ryan and Murray budget so we aren't going to raise those caps as the president recommends.

"But it's also about what do you believe we ought to be doing with regard to reform of our important but unsustainable entitlement programs. What do you think about tax reform? What do you think of what energy policy ought to look like? What you can be doing in terms of this spending trajectory going forward," Portman said.

He said he hopes there will also be a budget in the Senate. "We did have a budget debate last year for the first time in four years – the first budget to ever pass in the Senate in four years. We are not able to reconcile that with the House and therefore we had the Ryan-Murray budget. But it was a good discussion because these budget votes on the floor of the House and the Senate give everybody a chance to offer their thoughts on what the future ought to look like and [then you] have the whole body vote on it."

Portman pointed to two amendments that passed in that process that he feels were important for the country. "One is the Keystone XL Pipeline. We actually got more than 60 votes to be able to say, 'let's move forward on approving that project so that we can ensure America's energy security and economic future,' because, as you know, it creates a lot of private sector jobs. Somewhere between 30-40,000 and it also enables us to use our resources here in this North American continent to be able to make ourselves energy independent," he explained.

"Second, though, we also had an amendment vote on something a little more obscure I guess and a little more inside baseball... how do you look at tax reform proposals? Do you say it's going to be scored-based on what they call a static basis, in other words, no behavioral change, or do you take into account behavior changes, so-called macroeconomic changes?

"That's a big deal because we'll get better tax reform if we are able to put together pro-growth tax reform and then get it scored in the proper way, which means that if it's pro-growth it will generate more revenue through growth, not through higher taxes on small businesses and individuals."

Asked how Republicans can help to make the arguments behind tax reform accessible to voters, Portman replied, "If anybody has done their taxes or their family's taxes, they know this code is incredibly complex. We've got to reform it and simplify it just to make it easier for all of us to comply with the tax code, but beyond that there's a real economic disincentive right now to invest, to save, to create jobs because of our tax code. And it's both on the individual side, which is where most of the taxes are generated, but also on the business side, on the corporations."

"We are really out to do both. We can have a brighter future, pro-growth tax reform is one way to do it, getting spending in control is another one, and that's why I'd love to have this debate on the budget, he added.

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