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Government and Politics

Ohio's Sens. Brown and Portman stake different paths away from the cliff
Where would cuts come the biggies of Medicare and Social Security?
This story is part of a special series.

In The Region:

Ohio’s two U.S. senators continue to see things as differently as their parties when it comes to tackling big problems with the nation’s finances.  WKSU’s M.L. Schultze interviewed Democrat Sherrod Brown and Kabir Bhatia then sat in on a conference call with Republican Rob Portman about what needs to be done to steer the nation away from the fiscal cliff.

SCHULTZE: Brown talks about cuts he says shouldn't be made

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BHATIA: Portman on fiscal cliff

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In a press call Thursday, Sen. Rob Portman joined the chorus of Republicans who are considering backing away from the “No New Taxes” pledge that’s been a party mantra for decades. But with pressure to make a deal on the fiscal cliff, he says a tax increase is still bad news.

“We’re not talking about cutting taxes.  We’re talking about keeping huge tax increases from happening.  Particularly the way the President wants to do it, which is on top of a terribly inefficient and antiquated tax code.  I do not believe there would be any proposal that I could support that would not result in a net tax decrease compared to what’s scheduled to happen.”

Portman has hammered at the tax code since being elected in 2010. And he underscored the need for an overhaul while he was a member of the supercommittee that was charged with coming up with a solution a year ago – and failed. 

With a month to go until sequestration kicks in, Portman says he still supports a combination of tax reforms and spending cuts.

“I would much rather pursue pro-growth tax reform to actually get this economy moving.  And in doing so, we will kick off additional revenue.  I’m convinced of it.  Would I be willing as part of tax reform, to see some more revenue?  It depends.  In the supercommittee I was willing to looks at that.  But it was in the context of not having these huge tax increases that are otherwise scheduled to happen here.  And second, overall tax reform that would be pro-growth and pro-jobs.  And third, that there would be serious reductions in spending.  Specifically on the very important, but unsustainable, entitlement programs.”

Portman also spent time during the conference call supporting a proposal to re-evaluate security at U.S. embassies.

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