New OMB Chief Portman Is a Conservative

Conservatives are almost certain to applaud the President’s nomination today of U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman as the new director of the Office of Management and Budget.

As Republican U.S. Representative from Ohio’s 1st District from 1993-2005, Portman roled up a solidly conservative voting record (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 89%) and was a strong advocate of pro-growth and pro-free market policies. According to the Almanac of American Politics, House Ways and Means Committee Member Portman was in the forefront of numerous creative pieces of conservative legislation: "As part of the Contract With America [under which Republicans captured a majority in the House in 1994], he helped floor-manage in early 1995 the unfunded mandates bill — a large responsibility for one who hadn’t even been a member two years…. He shepherded, as co-chairman with Senator Bob Kerrey of the National Commission on the Restructuring of the Internal Revenue Service, a bipartisan package to define taxpayer rights and make the 100,000-plus employee agency more user friendly. With [the late Democratic Rep.] Bob Matsui, he won broad support to repeal the 3% excise tax on telephone service, which critics derided as the ‘Spanish American War tax’ because it was instituted as a temporary measure to finance that war, which ended in 1898."

Portman is considered a solid Bushman, having worked for the elder Bush as a assistant White House counsel and then deputy assistant in the White House office of legislative affairs. Given the new budget chief’s close relationship with the Bush family, many conservatives believe they now have a new and influential pipeline into an Administration with whom relations have grown increasingly cold since the President’s unsuccessful effort to name Harriett Miers to the Supreme Court last year.

Along with naming the 50-year-old Portman to succeed incoming White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten at OMB, the President today named economist Susan Schwab to succeed the Buckeye State man as US Trade Representative.