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Government & Politics

Sen. Rob Portman Says He Could Support a 'Claw Back' If Tax Cuts Don't Cut the Deficit

Rob Portman, Republican, U.S. Senate from Ohio

Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman says his party’s tax reform bill has taken a significant step forward. 

Ohio’s Rob Portman is on both the Senate Finance Committee and its subcommittee on taxation and is a backer of the tax bill. He says the measure, though still being hotly debated, has cleared an important hurdle.

“There was a vote in the budget committee to move this to the next step. Because this is being done through budget reconciliation bill there needed to be an affirmative vote in the Budget Committee. Sen. Johnson and Sen. Corker are both on the budget committee. They have some concerns still about the bill, but they voted today to move the bill to the floor, which is a good sign for the bill's success.”

Part of the debate is over whether the tax plan would worsen the federal deficit by reducing government income. Portman says it won’t because it will stimulate economic activity like new jobs, higher pay and more investment, and revenue from those will off-set what would be lost due to the tax breaks.

He was asked about an idea floated by Democrats and now some Republicans for a “claw back” provision in the bill that would revisit and perhaps end corporate tax rate cuts if economic growth is not as strong as expected.

“I think it’s something we ought to look at because I worked on this in the super committee. ...  At the time I thought it should go both ways. In other words, if there was more economic growth than projected, then you should not have the claw-back. But you should have the ability to do more tax reform.  But if you don’t meet the targets then there should be some claw backs, so I’m not against that. I don’t know if that’s going to be in the final product or not. I know that’s being talked about right now.”

Portman says he believes the full Senate will vote on the tax legislation by the end of the week.  And he’s optimistic it will pass.

Correction:  This story has been updated to correct typo in the lead and an unnecessary word in the photo caption.