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Government and Politics

Ohio Sen. Portman says debt obligations are must, as are spending cuts
Former head of OMB says he understands why administrations dread problems with debt ceilings

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M.L. Schultze
Portman met with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Wednesday to try to work out a deal.
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Ohio’s U.S. Sen. Rob Portman – once the head of the Office of Management and Budget – says he sees all the reasons the Obama administration wants to avoid a crisis next month over raising the debt ceiling. But he also sees all the reasons Republicans are hesitant. 

LISTEN: Portman on looming budget crises

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Sen. Portman was among the Republican and Democratic senators who met Wednesday  with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to try to work out a solution to the looming double threat:  a short-term spending plan that needs to be in place next week and a default if the debt ceiling is not raised about two weeks later.

The Republican Portman says he agrees the U.S. should not miss its deadline on raising the debt ceiling. But he also says spending must be cut. He says the discussions could start with President Obama’s own budget proposal.

“They don’t go as far as we need to go and I know a lot of people would like to go further and I agree with that. But at least the president did talk about means testing under some of our important entitlement programs and it’s in his budget. … Well that’s an example. Let’s put that into the legislative mix here and let’s actually do something on the underlying problem that forces us to raise the debt limit to historic levels.”

Means testing would limit some programs like Social Security and Medicare based on income.

Before the Senate gets to the debt limit, it has to decide on the spending resolution that the House passed – that includes a defunding of the health-care overhaul. Senate Democrats plan to strip that out. Portman would not say if he would support a filibuster should one be mounted by Republicans. 

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