Portman Talks Payroll Tax

ST. MARYS — An Ohio senator says he is confident a deal will get done to prevent what he called a tax hike on working Americans.

“My view on the payroll tax is pretty simple — I don’t believe Washington should be raising taxes on anybody right now,” U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said during a teleconference with regional media Thursday. “I do support an extension of the existing payroll tax cut, but I also believe it has to be paid for. With the record deficits and debt that we’ve got, we cannot be extending the payroll tax cut without smart ways to pay for it.”

Options Portman listed included increasing federal employee retirement contributions, more means testing in Medicare Part B and D for high-income seniors and extending the pay freeze for federal workers.

“I’m confident that if not by the end of this week, then next week we will be able to extend the payroll tax reduction because these ways to pay for it seem to make sense and I think there is some bipartisan consensus that we should be extending the payroll tax reductions,” Portman said.

Portman also will be involved in debates regarding the defense department authorization bill. Portman currently sits on the armed services committee.

“I’ve been strongly supportive of doing an authorization bill this year,” Portman said. “It almost wasn’t allowed to be taken to the floor.”

The measure contains provisions that address Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as well as the Lima tank plant.  Portman said he played “a key role” in securing funding for the facilities.

“I was able to play a key role in including in this legislation an additional $255 million in funding for the upgrades of the Abrams battle tanks,” Portman said of the vehicles built in Lima. “This will enable us to retain the highly skilled workforce in Lima ... And it allows us to keep the supply chain open.”

Portman said he is optimistic the measure will be passed in the Senate this week.

The Ohio legislator also voiced his support for a balanced budget amendment, which has been circulating through Congress for much of the year.

“I was proud to support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution,” Portman said. “I’ve always supported it — I supported it when it came up in the House of Representatives back in the late 90s, where we came very close, within one vote in the Senate, of sending it to the states for ratification.”

Portman said a balanced budget amendment would force members of Congress to prioritize spending and eliminate waste. On Wednesday, the Senate rejected two measures that would have called for a balanced budget amendment. Every state, except Vermont, has some type of a balanced budget requirement every year.