Portman Voices Concerns

ST. MARYS — An Ohio Senator says while he is hopeful a deal will get done regarding Congress’ impasse on raising the debt ceiling, any deal must include a cut in spending.

“I still don’t see that the president and the Congressional leadership have come together with a package,” U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said during a teleconference with regional media Thursday afternoon. “However I am still confident that there will be an agreement and I believe the agreement that seems most obvious now is one that reduces spending for a period of time consistent with the rule that Speaker (John) Boehner laid out that the debt limit would only extended for a period of time equal to the amount of spending cuts.”

Portman stressed the importance of slicing spending and reaching a debt limit resolution. Allowing the nation to default on debts, is not an option, Portman noted.

“We cannot allow the country to go into default,” Portman said. “But we also cannot increase the debt limit in a way that does not deal with the spending problem. Otherwise we will continue to have all of the financial risk that is currently being talked about by these credit agencies.”

Defaulting on the nation’s debt would cause interest rates to soar, Portman said. That could hinder any economic recovery that is taking place and would reach well beyond the walls of Washington, D.C.

“All that would have a very negative impact on our economy,” Portman said.

“I am working with our leadership and I have had conversations with Democrats in the Senate and the House and I am trying to play a constructive role in getting the agreement to reduce the spending and at least putting in place a process to get through these important issues like tax reform and entitlement reform, which is necessary for us to deal with the long-term debt problem.”

Portman said he supported the “Cut, Cap and Balance” measure that recently passed the House. Portman labeled the measure as a common sense approach to the problem.

“You put caps in place to get spending down to a level it’s been historically,” Portman said.

“For the last 50 years, spending has been about 20 percent of the economy and over time, that’s what the Cut, Cap and Balance legislation provides for. It doesn’t do it immediately because right now we are spending about 25 percent of our economy.”

Entitlement reform, including Social Security and Medicare, are essential, Portman said.

“The president has acknowledged, as have most Democrats, including the ‘Gang of Six’ Democrats, that the current entitlement programs are simply not sustainable,” Portman said.

“In other words, they cannot be afforded over time. We have made promises that we cannot be kept here in Washington and Washington continues to make promises that cannot be kept so there have to be sensible reforms.”