Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why is API spending money on this guy?

KEEP AN eye on Sen. Rob Portman, the so-called Republican "moderate" from Cincinnati, who is swinging hard to the right with the aid of outfits like the American Petroleum Institute, the mega lobbyist for the oil and gas industry. The API has been plugging Portman in TV ads that say he won't raise taxes. Read: He's on API's side on energy issues.

Why would it be spending money being goody-goody to a senator who still has 5 years remaining in his term? Could Portman be API's inside choice for the GOP s national ticket, say, at least as veep. Of course he could. You don' spend a lot of money on a guy who isn't running for reelection for years. In other words, he's a perfect fit for API's interests.

As one high ranking Democrat told me: "Portman wants to be the vice presidential candidate so bad that he can taste it." There is also the Kasich gambit. Gov. Kasich has been trying to position himself for the party's national ticket since the first day he stepped into the governor's office. It put him at serious odds with Portman. But Kasich has seen his fortune diminish as quickly as a candle in a windstorm with his clumsy move to destroy collective bargaining by public workers.

Portman, meanwhile, continu√ęs to reinforce his attachment to the party's right wing, voting down the line with his GOP colleagues. His name is buried in the roll call but his vote is solidly anti-anti-Obama on every issue - this, from a guy who was George W. Bush's budget advisor.

Of late, he's been declaring his opposition to the proposed appointment of Richard Cordray to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - another target of the right. The plan to the GOP convention is unfolding. But let's see no more references to Portman as a "moderate."

1 comment:

David Hess said...

Portman has long been a fiscal conservative, both during his time in the House and as Bush's budget guru. But his down-the-line toeing of the Republican obstructionist tactics in the Senate are inexcusable, particularly the vote against permitting an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor on Cordray's nomination. Cordray is a fellow Ohioan -- and a potential candidate for the Senate -- so that might explain Portman's obstructive stance. The GOP senators' lame explanation for their objection is that the new consumer protection agency would not be "accountable" to Congress. It would be structurally under the oversight of the Federal Reserve Board, just like other regulatory bodies governing the financial services industry. This method of accountability was consciously and judiciously considered by the authors of the Dodd-Frank law to prevent partisan meddling and manipulation of such regulators. It would not, despite misstatements to the contrary, be totally free of congressional oversight, since the committees of jurisdiction in both houses could call its director, or any other employe of the agency, to testify before them. Cordray, by the way, is not the only Obama appointee ambushed by Senate Republicans. Several others, judicial and otherwise, have also been jammed up, some for the flimsiest of reasons.