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Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Condoleezza Rice…Rob Portman. The last name on the list doesn’t have the political star power of the others, but the freshman senator from Ohio has recently emerged as a leading contender to be Mitt Romney’s running mate.
That Portman’s is being seriously considered for the GOP ticket is no fluke. His status as a first-term senator belies an impressive political resume. For starters, he is a veteran of two presidential administrations, having served under President George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. He also spent 12 years in Congress, before being elected to the Senate in 2010. Just as significant is Portman’s experience on budget and spending issues, on which he is considered a respected authority. A former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, he also served on the deficit-reduction “super committee” that last fall unsuccessfully tried to craft a plan to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion.
Despite that failure, Portman has emerged as an effective critic of the Obama administration’s fiscal stewardship. In February he released an analysis showing just how fiscally irresponsible the administration is. Portman estimated that the administration’s budget increases would lead to the government reaching the debt ceiling once again by October, meaning that it would have slashed through last year’s $2.1 trillion increase in just 14 months. “This is an unfortunate but clear signal to the American people that Washington is spending too much, borrowing too much, and putting our nation’s fiscal stability at risk,” Portman noted at the time.
Due to his command of budget issues, Portman has also been an effective critic of the Obama administration’s budgetary gimmicks. When the administration recently touted the so-called “Buffet Rule,” a minimum tax on millionaires and billionaires, Portman was among the first to point out that it was little more than political posturing. After calculating that the high-profile tax would bring in less than $5 billion per year, Portman observed, “That represents 0.4 percent of annual individual income taxes paid — or enough to pay one week’s interest on the national debt.” The Obama administration subsequently shifted course, insisting that the tax was not intended to bolster the country’s finances but rather to promote “fairness.”
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