On FOX Business, Portman Discusses Russian Threat to Ukraine, Democrats’ Reckless Tax & Spending Bill
Senator Portman joined FOX Business’ Kudlow this afternoon to discuss the growing Russian threat against Ukraine. This comes as recent press reports suggest that U.S. intelligence believes Russia is planning an offensive against Ukraine. The report cited the projected involvement of 175,000 troops, 100 Russian battalion tactical groups, which is two-thirds of the available battalion tactical groups in the Russian army. Portman is one of Ukraine’s strongest allies in Congress and the co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus.
Portman also shared his concerns with the Democrats’ reckless tax and spending bill, arguing that trillions in new spending and taxes will stifle economic growth, kill jobs, balloon the national debt, and increase inflation. He also highlighted the negative impact surging inflation is having on workers and middle-class families.
A transcript of the interview can be found below and you can also watch the interview here.
PORTMAN ON RUSSIA’S AGGRESSION TOWARDS UKRAINE:
“Well, I agree. Look, this is a dangerous situation. And one thing that Robert [O’Brien] said that I thought was interesting was, 'weakness is provocative.' In other words, if we don't show strength it only encourages Putin and his aggression. You saw what he did with regard to Crimea. You saw what he did with regard to the Eastern border of Ukraine. He's clearly shown in the past that when the West is not standing up for our friends in Ukraine, he moves and moves aggressively.
“One, restoring the sanctions that were in place before on Nord Stream 2 makes all the sense in the world, even if Putin wasn't doing anything new. So we should do that for sure. And there is legislation that's likely to be included in the National Defense Authorization bill on that.
“Second, with regard to if he does invade, we need to be very clear that there will be all kinds of negative consequences for Russia. And one of those negative consequences has to be significant new sanctions, not just by the United States, but by the international community. And in this case, Larry, as compared I would say, even to Taiwan and perhaps other areas of the world, we're in Europe's back door here, I mean this is part of Europe. And the NATO countries in Europe who are allied with us feel as strongly as we do, I believe, about this potential aggression against Ukraine, so we need to stand firm and stand with our allies.”
“Yes, I have. And we've begun those discussions. We actually have a briefing, I will tell you, this evening. It's going to be a classified briefing on this whole topic. But, look, this is an incredibly dangerous time. If we don't show strength now then Putin may make a mistake. And I think it would be a grave mistake, by the way, if you were to invade because I think the entire world would respond and in particular, our NATO allies and non-NATO allies throughout Europe. And let's face it, Larry, he's done it before.
“So to say in the modern time you can't believe that this could happen in Europe, nothing's happened like this since World War II. Well, it did happen. He took Crimea illegally. He annexed it. And so we need to be on guard and be sure that we are delivering a very clear message now to avoid Putin making a big mistake.”
PORTMAN ON DEMOCRATS' MASSIVE TAX AND SPENDING BILL:
“Yeah, well, I want to stop, stop, stop. I want to kill it. I think it's a terrible bill as do you. But look, at a time of incredibly high inflation, and that's at the top of people's concerns right now, at a time of slow economic growth relative to what it should be, thanks to the COVID issue, at a time of record breaking debts and deficits, why would we want to do this? Why would we want to put out the second most expensive bill ever passed by Congress. And if you look at the real numbers, it's the most expensive bill by more than double – it's over $4.5 trillion. It just makes no sense. And then the tax side, why would you want to burden the economy right now, as we're coming out of this pandemic with these higher taxes? It's going to add to the inflationary pressures, as you know, because there's more stimulative spending in here which adds to the demand side of the economy. So it's going to increase inflation.
“I just don't get it. And by the way, I think some Democrats are beginning to wonder, too, including our colleagues Senator Sinema and Senator Manchin, because it just makes no sense to do it. It makes no sense for the economy, for workers, for our competitiveness globally, and certainly with regard to COVID.
“If this COVID issue continues to be a challenge to us, which unfortunately looks like it may well be, we might want to keep our powder dry with the possibility we may have to respond more on COVID in the future. So I just think it's exactly the wrong time, Larry.”
“Yeah. You're absolutely right. And a good point to be made here, Larry, which you know well because you were there, five times we passed legislation to deal with the COVID-19 crisis during the Trump administration. All five of those were bipartisan. All five.
“And were they perfect? No. But did they help? Yes, a lot, including getting the vaccinations moving. Operation Warp Speed was unbelievably successful and that was funded by that. But now the Democrats starting in March are doing all this through what's called reconciliation, with no input from Republicans, and therefore they're not doing the right thing by the economy in terms of inflation. I mean, back in March, when the $1.9 trillion bill was passed, many of us said that this is not needed for our economy because all the outside indicators were that we were starting to grow already and that instead this would overheat the economy and cause inflation.
“Unfortunately, we were right. And that is a terrible tax on families all over America right now – looking at these higher prices on gas and food and clothes and everything else. So, you're right. The $1.9 trillion was not needed to keep the economy moving. But it added by overheating the economy, a lot of burdens to the economy. And now we're in this same situation. Why would you want to do it again?”
PORTMAN ON VACCINE MANDATES:
“Well, I think we'll win it. I think it'll likely either stop in the House or be vetoed. Probably stop in the House, so I don't think we'll ultimately be able to succeed in it. Certainly, President Biden will veto it. But look, Larry, the courts have all agreed with us, which is that the Biden administration does not have the authority to do this. And I don't think there's a single court case that's been in their favor. And many of those court cases, by the way, are going to be resolved here in the next few weeks, so the action really moves to the court.
“I'm for allowing companies to be able to mandate it if they choose to, by the way. What I'm not for is for the federal government to step in and say you're going to lose your job unless you agree to get a vaccination. That makes no sense. And by the way, it can have the exact opposite effect. Omicron is leading more people to get vaccinations, right now. People are getting more boosters, and that's a good thing. I'm for vaccinations. I think it's very important.
“As you know, I was in that J&J trial early on to show people that vaccinations are important. But let's not have a federal mandate. That makes no sense.”