Portman: Sequestration hasn't worked, not a good idea

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(CNN) -- Sen. Rob Portman, who is close to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and was a member of the congressional so-called "super committee" tasked with devising a deficit reduction plan, said Tuesday that the upcoming sequestration - a penalty and incentive for the two partisan sides to work together - has been ineffective and prevented accomplishing just such across-the-aisle cooperation.

"I think actually not having the sequester in place would have made it more likely that we could have come up with an agreement," the Ohio Republican said on CNN's "OutFront." "I don't think the sequester worked, and therefore I don't think it was a good idea."

In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, Romney said Republicans share blame for the sequester.

"I thought it was a mistake on the part of the White House to propose it," Romney said. "I think it was a mistake for Republicans to go along with it."

At the time, Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for the super committee's November 2011 failure to reach a "grand bargain" that included at least $1.2 trillion of federal deficit reduction.

The sequestration, or broad and deep cuts over 10 years to government spending, was considered undesirable, with some agreement for more targeted cuts preferable.

Elected in 2010 to the Senate, Portman's prior experience includes serving as President George W. Bush's budget director.

Like others on both sides of the aisle, Portman said he favors finding a way to "avoid this fiscal cliff," as some refer to the spending cuts and expiration of lowered tax rates that would result in January without Congressional action.

The Ohio Republican suggested as a solution that Congress "go ahead and put in place for the first year the spending reductions that are part of this longer 10-year spending reduction wrap," as well as extend the current tax code for a portion of the new year, "and during that time let's force congress to get its job done."

As to the timeline for accomplishing any action on the issue, Portman acknowledged Congress may not find a solution before voters head to the polls in November.

"I'm not sure if it can be done before the election. I certain think it should be," he said. "But it certainly could be done right after the election, regardless of what happens in the election, during what they call the lame-duck session of Congress."
 

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