Transcript: Republican Sen. Rob Portman calls Obama’s budget a ‘political document’


Remarks by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on Obama’s 2013 budget at a press briefing on Feb. 13, 2012:

“At a time of trillion dollar deficits and a record debt and at a time when we’re spending at the federal government more than we have spent since World War II, the budget presented by the President is irresponsible. It does not address the acute fiscal crisis we face as a country. And we’d hope for something better.

“In fact, as you know, last year the President’s budget was taken to the floor of the Senate and, as indicated earlier, the vote was 97 to nothing against it. Many of us had hoped the message would be delivered and that this year there would be a more responsible budget document.

“As member of the House Budget Committee and Director of the Office of Management and Budget and now on the Senate Budget Committee, I’ve seen a lot of budgets. And I must say looking at this one I think it’s extraordinary in terms of its lack of seriousness and again responsibility.

“It starts by proposing a new $350 billion stimulus bill, you know, if you look at the new spending here related to so-called stimulus. The President then claims in the budget document $5.3 trillion in deficit reduction over the decade.

“So in looking at that and breaking it down, 99.9% of the deficit reduction that the President claims is the following:

“1. $1.9 trillion in tax increases.
“2. Iraq and Afghanistan war savings that have been widely acknowledged by Republican and Democrats alike as being a gimmick. This is the so-called OCO [overseas contingency operations] savings.
“3. The already enacted discretionary caps in the Budget Control Act. So the budget actually takes credit for what Congress has already enacted.
“4. And then finally, net interest savings of those policies, which is about $800 billion.

“That is 99.9% of the deficit reduction. That leaves a minuscule $4 billion in what could be called savings in this budget. It’s amazing given the situation that we’re in.

“But on top of that, the President hides in his baseline $479 billion in new spending and specifically that’s the Pell grant and the Medicare doc fix that’s actually built into the baseline.

“So unfortunately, the claimed savings of only $4 billion completely vanishes as well. There are no savings in this budget.

“Again, this is a political year, and all of us are up here talking about this in terms of the fiscal environment. You’d probably wouldn’t expect Republicans and Democrats to agree on too much during an election year.

“But to me, this budget goes beyond the line. It goes beyond to being a political document. It goes to being an irresponsible document given what we are facing in terms of the fiscal problems, given what our kids and our grandkids will be facing thanks to our irresponsibility, and given the impact on the economy.

“There’s one thing in this budget that I think is actually relatively honest and that is what the President’s projection of what the economy’s going to do. And maybe it’s in part because of the budget because, as you know, the budget document is both the spending side and the revenue side and the economic forecast.

“This budget, as I look at it, concedes that unemployment rates will be higher next year than they are this year and higher in 2013 than they are this year. He projects an unemployment rate of 8.9% in 2012 and 8.6% in 2013. Now, ultimately that’s the worst part of the budget – that there’s not anything in this budget to really get our economy moving again. Neither taking on the fiscal issues and being sure that you have more predictability and certainty in our economy and to avoid the kind of debt crises we’re seeing in Europe. And no pro-growth policies to address the obvious need for us to give this economy a shot in the arm.

“So I’m sorry to say in looking at this document that it looks like more of the same from last year and an entirely political document during a year in which we should be making progress in our deficit and debt.”



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