Portman Warns Of Falling Off Cliff

ST. MARYS — An Ohio senator urged President Barack Obama to work more closely and cooperatively with both parties to avert allowing the nation to go over looming fiscal cliff.

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman drafted a letter to Obama that was signed by several dozen other Republican senators as a way to jump start talks in order to reach a deal before the end of the year to avoid the fiscal cliff. If a deal is not struck by the end of the year, automatic spending cuts and tax increases will be triggered in 2013.

“It talks about the fact that the Congressional Budget Office, and others, have made it clear that if we don’t deal with the fiscal cliff, we will go back into a recession,” Portman told regional media during a teleconference on Thursday. “This will result in lost jobs for Ohio and I think it’s irresponsible for us not to figure out a way to resolve this issue.”

Portman also criticized Obama for attempting to circumvent Congress regarding the power to raise the debt ceiling. In talks regarding a deal, Obama has voiced a desire to be granted the power to raise the debt ceiling without Congressional approval.

“This was in his proposal he sent to Congress last week and that proposal had a number of flaws in it in my view,” Portman said. “One is that is it didn’t do anything on the spending side ... It is truly irresponsible.”

Portman said the power to raise the debt ceiling should remain with Congress, and that any scenario that would give Obama that power would be irresponsible.

“This would be a huge mistake,” Portman said. “If we are 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 actually get some spending restraint.”

The power to raise the debt ceiling often is used by members of Congress to get spending cuts. That power, Portman said, is important in order to slice spending and get the debt under control.

“It’s given Congress the ability to actually reduce spending,” Portman said. “Unfortunately, when you look at what has happened over the past few decades in terms of spending reductions, this has been one of the rare opportunities for us to do the right thing.”

Portman also criticized members of the Senate for failing to produce a budget during the past three years.

“Congress is not doing its work,” Portman said. “Without a budget, you don’t have the agreement between the two houses with how you deal with appropriations. That’s why we basically don’t do appropriations bills anymore ... It’s necessary for us, in my view, to have this authority to determine whether the country should go out and borrow more.”