Portman: Extend all tax cuts temporarily to reach debt deal

On this week’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing Friday at 9 p.m. EST, Bloomberg TV anchor and Washington, D.C. executive editor Al Hunt interviews Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).  The Q and A below:

Sen. Rob Portman on what kind of tax compromise he could agree to:

“I think there’s only one logical thing to do, and that’s to continue the current tax code for six months. Or maybe it’s a year. I think [President Obama] might consider it, if at this point, when you make that agreement not to create the great uncertainty and the huge tax increases that could push us into recession, which is what, you know, outside analysts are saying, including the CBO and Federal Reserve, but if we make a commitment right now that, once the tax reform is done, which is what ought to happen, pro-growth tax reform, and once the entitlement reform is done, which I think can be done in six months, after all, as you know, the work’s been done by a lot of different groups, there will be increased revenues. Those increased revenues will come from those who are in what is now the top two brackets. And there could be some other revenue.”

On whether he’ll accept any deal on taxes in the short term:

“I would accept anything that has to do with pro-growth tax reform, one, and, two, entitlement reform??? I’m saying I think we ought to have a deal on taxes.”

On why he wouldn’t agree to extend the Bush tax cuts for the 98% and then deal with the upper-income cuts next year:

“Because it’s going to hurt the economy???Why would you want to do that? Why not say, ‘Let’s go ahead and reform the tax code, make a commitment now we’re going to have additional revenue’?…The reform wouldn’t occur now. It would occur six months from now, July 4th???If it doesn’t happen, then you would revert back to the existing law???You have to have a trigger. The president would get what he wants. He wants to sort of exact his political pound of flesh here after the election. I understand that. But let’s not do it in a way that hurts people who are trying to find work. I mean, there’s a way to do this, is my point, that deals with tax reform, which as you know is necessary to get this economy moving. It’s an antiquated, inefficient system.”

On Obama???s $4-trillion 10-year package:

“I am concerned about folks who are taking credit for something that’s already happened, because we’ve got to do so much more???It is insufficient to deal with the crisis we face. I mean, it’s impending. It’s on our doorstep, $16 trillion in debt. It’s going to $20 trillion if we don’t change direction.”

“We need to have pro-growth tax reform. The exciting opportunity here is that we can reform our tax code in ways that’s going to create jobs and opportunity. Let’s take advantage of that. We can also reform our entitlement programs to make them actually more efficient, work better for a lot of seniors, give them more choices.”

On John McCain and Lindsey Graham saying that Susan Rice is unacceptable as a potential Secretary of State nominee because they believe she didn’t tell the truth about Benghazi:

“I haven’t looked into her background sufficiently, but I think they can do better, given what happened. I’m so discouraged by what occurred there.”

On whether he’d pledge to filibuster to prevent Rice’s nomination:

“Well, no. I’d like to look at her background in a more thoughtful way. But I am very discouraged by what I’m reading and hearing now. And I’m on the Armed Services Committee. I’m also on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.”

“I like John Kerry, my colleague in the Senate, as a potential nominee. He’s got broad experience. I don’t agree with him on policy issues for the most part, but I think he’s a guy of integrity in terms of his foreign policy issues. He’s actually been willing to stand up and express his own view independent of the administration now and again, including on Syria and other issues. So, look, there are a lot of qualified people out there.”

On Romney’s comments that Obama won the election due to “gifts”:

“I’ve talked about this. I think we lost the election for a number of reasons. It’s sort of all-of-the-above. I also think we lost it very narrowly, so if you look at Ohio, it was a difference of 100,000 or so votes, making it a more narrow victory for Barack Obama than George Bush had in 2004, when all of the stuff that was very narrow with John Kerry. So it was a close election. You look at the national numbers, the country’s divided.”

“I was the chairman of the Ohio campaign. And I will tell you what my view is, having done some of the after-action reviews. One, it was the fact that we weren’t responding for months and months to a barrage of negative ads including on the auto industry and other things in Ohio. We were outspent, but also I think we could have responded to some of the attacks in earlier and more appropriate ways???I think second is turnout. I mean, the Democrats did a better job on turning out their voters???I think what is surprising to people is to find out that Barack Obama received significantly fewer votes than he received in 2008, but so did Republicans???And then, finally I will say, on the economic issues???I think we weren’t able to take these bigger issues about the economy, about the deficit, and about the proposals, the five-point plan and so on, and enable people to understand how it’d affect them and their lives.”