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Government and Politics

Ohio's Sen. Portman, on a key committee, believes a budget deal is possible
Republican Rob Portman believes Democrats may agree to changes in Social Security and Medicare in exchange for rolling back the sequester

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
Sen. Rob Portman sits on the Senate budget committee, and will be part of the bipartisan conference committee charged with hammering out a compromise ahead of a mid-January deadline.
Courtesy of M.L. Schultze
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The deal to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling is giving a bipartisan super committee just 21 days to present its budget blueprint.

Ohio’s Republican Sen. Rob Portman is on the committee, and as WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports, this time around, Portman wants concessions from the Obama administration.

LISTEN: Rob Portman's super committee ideas

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The bruising battle over funding the government and raising the debt ceiling resulted in yet another super-committee charged with hammering out a budget compromise. That’s something Congress couldn’t do on its own without the threat of default.

But Ohio’s Rob Portman told reporters he’s rolling up his sleeves; “We have very little time and a lot to do.”

The committee will present its preliminary plan on Dec. 13. Portman says this time Republicans have more leverage. He pictures Democrats agreeing to cut what he calls ‘mandatory programs,’ Medicare and Social Security, in exchange for ending the sequester.

“I think it gives us the ability to go to the president and the Democrats and say, ‘Look, you have many mandatory spending cuts you like to get done, you’d like to see the sequester end, let’s work out something where we can substitute some of these reforms on the mandatory side for some of the sequester.’”

What will spur growth?
Portman also wants the committee to find a long-term fix to the $17 trillion debt by reigning-in government spending and spurring economic growth. 

“We should at least set up the process for tax reform over the next 21 legislative days. And I hope that we focus not just on the spending side, but also how do you actually grow the economy. If you do that, obviously it helps in terms of the deficit and vice versa. I don’t see us getting the economy moving without dealing with the debt and deficit overhang because it is like a wet blanket on the economy.”

The conference committee is headed by two Republicans and two Democrats, two each from the House and Senate.  Portman is optimistic the group can break the gridlock before the next government funding deadline in January.

“Will it be the grand bargain? Probably not. Can it be a bargain that’s good for the American people? Yes.”

Portman says he’d like to prevent Congress from lurching from crisis to crisis, but his End Government Shutdowns Act is likely to once again wither on the vine in the Senate.

Listener Comments:

Agree Mr. Portman, we all know Reid will not accept any bill that isn't progressive.
It's insulting that the media continued to coddle the progressives concerning the shutdown.
Boehner did -not choose what services to shut down; with numerous options this administration chose to shut down what would hurt the economy and businesses the most and then blame the Republicans/conservatives for shutting down the government. - it's insane

Posted by: another good rep on October 21, 2013 11:10AM
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