Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rob Portman on Taxes and Spending

In 2010, Republicans have great hopes of winning seats for Ohio Governor (John Kasich), Ohio Senator (Rob Portman), Ohio Treasurer (Josh Mandel), Ohio Auditor (re-electing Mary Taylor), and Ohio Secretary of State (John Husted or Sandy O’Brien). Here, COAST begins to examine the bona fides of its Republican candidates on tax and spending issues.

Republican candidate for

United States Senate Rob Portman

Rob Portman is the leading candidate for the Republican nomination to the United States Senate, seeking to replace the consistently disappointing George Voinovich. So COAST asks, just what is Rob Portman’s record on tax and spending issues?

Portman served in the United States Congress serving the second congressional district of Ohio from 1993 to 2005. He also served as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) during the administration of President George W. Bush. Previously, Portman was the U. S. Trade Representative for one year, (from May 2005 to May 2006), a post carrying the rank of Ambassador.

In short, COAST’s analysis is that Portman consistently has been an energetic leader on scaling back the scope of government in Washington and has earned praise from credible national advocates of lower spending. Here’s just one:

"His conservative credentials are sterling. As a member of the House from 1993 to 2005, he compiled a lifetime voting rating of 89 percent from the American Conservative Union. His average annual rating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was comfortably above 90 percent. His lifetime voting rating from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action was less than 6 percent."

- Washington Times Editorial - May 30, 2008

Portman was named “Hero of the Taxpayer” ten times by Americans for Tax Reform with a 92.42% average ATR rating over 12 years. He was named a “Taxpayer Hero” ten times by Citizens Against Government Waste and earned a 84% Life Time rating from CAGW, the second highest rating for the Ohio delegation.

COAST rates Portman’s record on fiscal issues as “stellar” and an outstanding candidate for the United States Senate. Read more here.

Here are some highlights of Portman’s history in elective and appointive service:

Cut taxes

· Rob co-sponsored legislation to make permanent the tax reductions on investments and reduced tax rates for lower-income families.

· Rob co-sponsored legislation to permanently repeal the estate, commonly known as the Death Tax.

· In Congress, Rob authored and passed the Principle Residence Exclusion Act, which increased the capital gain exemption for homeowners, reducing the number of people who paid capital gains by more than 90%.

· Rob sponsored legislation that reduced double taxation of foreign earnings of U.S. based employers making them better able to compete for business in markets at home and abroad.

Control government spending

· As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rob co-sponsored legislation to amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget and voted in support of a balanced budget and reduced federal spending.

· As the Director for the Office of Management and Budget, Rob maintained his commitment to balancing the budget by developing a balanced budget.

· As Director of OMB, Rob spearheaded an effort to assess all federal government spending to determine whether the money was spent effectively. Rob made the results available for public viewing at The website also made public for the first time congressional justifications for all agency budgets.

· Rob co-sponsored legislation to amend the Constitution to require a 2/3 Congressional majority on legislation that would raise taxes.

Transparency and limited government

· Rob co-chaired the National Commission on Restructuring the IRS, which led to the creation of over 50 new taxpayer rights, simplified the tax code, and increased IRS accountability.

· As Director of OMB, Rob led an effort to increase the transparency of how Congressional earmarks are used and to expose the “horse-trading” among Congressional members. Rob’s efforts led to the establishment of an unprecedented government database that detailed more than 13,490 earmarks totaling more than $18.9 billion (

· As Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Rob established tough reform goals that not only brought transparency to the process of earmarks, but also cut the number and value of earmarks by at least 50%.

Here’s what anti-tax leaders in Washington are saying about Rob Portman:

Rob Portman is one of the best friends the taxpayers have ever had at the Office of Management and Budget. Upon his appointment in 2006, he immediately reached out to taxpayer groups and engaged them in an all-out effort to fight for tax relief and spending discipline. One of his first successes was passage of the line-item veto act, and he has always worked tirelessly to increase accountability, transparency, and efficiency in government.

Director Portman’s entire career has been dedicated to championing the cause of taxpayers, most recently in his recommendation that the President veto appropriations bills that exceed the fiscal 2008 budget request, and his unprecedented and extraordinarily important letter to federal agencies following passage of the fiscal 2008 continuing resolution, in which he told officials to ignore calls from members of Congress that would circumvent the moratorium on earmarks,” Schatz said. “While Director Portman will have been in office for only 14 months once he formally resigns, he has built a lasting legacy of fiscal responsibility.

- Tom Schatz, President - Citizens Against Government Waste - June 2007

While serving as the President’s main budgetary supervisor, OMB Director Portman steered the Administration towards stronger fiscal restraint. The Administration, now, runs several websites devoted to opening the spending process, including, and worked with Republicans in Congress to sign onto a letter pledging their votes to sustain a Presidential veto if the upcoming appropriations bills cost too much.

- Americans for Tax Reform Press Release - June 2007

Rob Portman did an excellent job as OMB director.” There is a very good chance that President Bush will veto 10 or 11 of the dozen spending bills Congress will pass this year because they spent more than he wanted. That's real progress.

- Grover Norquist, President - Americans for Tax Reform - June 2007

This is a tremendous victory for the taxpayers and one more sign that Washington’s ‘Earmark Favor Factory’ is closed for the year. President Bush and OMB Director Rob Portman deserve a great deal of credit for withstanding pressure from a lot of powerful, pork-project-seeking officials on Capitol Hill. Hopefully, this guidance on this year’s earmark moratorium will become a permanent policy that recognizes that pork-barrel earmarks that are not included in actual legisla­­tion should not be funded by the Executive Branch. We look forward to continuing our work with the Administration and Congress to end the earmark extravaganza once and for all.

- Tim Phillips, President - Americans For Prosperity - February 2007

Earlier this year, Director Portman led the effort to create the government’s first earmark database, which forms the basis for reducing the number and cost of earmarks in fiscal 2008. He also negotiated the removal of the most egregious pork-barrel projects in the emergency spending bill for the War on Terror that was signed into law in May.

- Tom Schatz, President - Citizens Against Government Waste - June 2007

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