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Portman: Obama plan ‘irresponsible’

December 7, 2012
By JOSELYN KING - Special to the Herald-Star , The Herald-Star

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Rob Portman called this week's spending proposal by President Barack Obama "irresponsible" and said it shows Obama "is not serious" about dealing with the nation's financial problems.

The Ohio Republican has sent a letter to Obama urging him to work with members of Congress "as partners" in addressing the "fiscal cliff." If lawmakers fail to reach a compromise before the end of the year, 2 percent payroll tax cuts for Americans will expire after Dec. 31 and automatic spending cuts kick in.

Portman said 43 of his Senate colleagues signed the letter.

"It talks about the fact the Congressional Budget Office has made it clear if we don't deal with the fiscal cliff, we will go back into a recession," Portman said. "This would result in lost jobs in Ohio. I think it is irresponsible for us not to find a way to resolve this issue."

In his most recent proposal, Obama suggested eliminating Congress's authority to set a debt limit for federal government, Portman continued.

"That proposal had a number of flaws in it," he said. "For one, it does nothing on the spending side. It has $1 in spending cuts for every $17 in new taxes. This is just the opposite of the Simpson-Bowles proposal that has $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in new taxes.

"If we're going to rein in spending - and get this debt that is at record levels under control - we have to have the ability in Congress to use the process of raising the debt limit to get some spending restraint. It's the only thing that's worked."

Some have argued Congress already can reduce federal spending through legislative appropriations bills.

"The problem now is that 60 percent of government spending is in the mandatory category, meaning it is not appropriated," Portman countered. "This is a part of the congressional spending that essentially grows on auto pilot ... therefore the debt limit is the way to address the biggest part of congressional spending, and the fastest growing part.

"Second, Congress is not doing its work. The Senate has not passed a budget in more than three years," he added. "Without a budget, you then don't have the agreement between the two houses on how you deal with spending."

Portman said it is unfortunate Democrats are willing to allow the country to go over the fiscal cliff so they can achieve their goal of taxing the wealthiest Americans at higher rates.

"Some believe it's good politics on their part," Portman commented. "But I know it's bad economics."

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