Sen. Rob Portman, the only GOP member of the supercommittee to react on-camera tonight, told reporters that he is “deeply disappointed by the result.”
Asked what could have been done to help the committee succeed, Portman, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the panel was unable “to bridge a gap in terms of our approach to spending and taxes.”
“Although we came close in this committee, there remained a gap. Republicans believe that the spending being much higher than it has historically been, that we need to restrain the spending, and do so in a way that’s pro-growth through tax reform in particular, and Democrats believe that we ought to pay for the increased spending by much higher taxes,” the Ohio senator said. “That’s a fundamental difference and until we resolve that difference it was tough to have this committee come together.”
Portman took solace in the fact that even though the supercommittee failed to strike an agreement, $1.2 trillion worth of reductions in spending will still occur through the sequester and the group generated a lot of “good ideas” to tackle the deficit.
“This committee through its work did produce a lot of good ideas, both on the mandatory side, the so-called healthcare entitlement programs, but also with regard to tax reform,” he said. “Hopefully Congress can now move forward on some of those specific initiatives from the committee to address the very real and bigger problems that we face.”
Asked whether there’s a possibility Congress change the sequestration through additional legislation, Portman said he is concerned that the defense cuts could weaken the military.
“Most of us are going to say we have to reach the $1.2 trillion,” he said. “Even if there is a change in the way in which the defense cuts are executed [and] other spending cuts are found, we still need to hit $1.2 trillion mark.”