USTR - Statement from Ambassador Rob Portman, Nominee for OMB Director
Office of the United States Trade Representative

 

Statement from Ambassador Rob Portman, Nominee for OMB Director
04/18/2006
From the White House Rose Garden

Thank you, Mr. President, for those kind words and for your confidence. I have been honored to serve you and our country as U.S. Trade Representative. I now look forward to working even more closely with you – and I am excited about this new opportunity to help shape the future of our government and our economy.

As the President has said, it’s a big job. The Office of Management and Budget touches every spending and policy decision in the federal government. I have the great advantage of having watched Josh Bolten in action. No one has done the job better. His extraordinary grasp of policy, his honesty and his sense of humor under fire will now serve him well as Chief of Staff.

I’m particularly happy that in this new position I will continue to work closely with my former colleagues in Congress, whose feedback, collaboration and friendship I highly value.

Among the main reasons I ran for Congress back in 1993 was to cut the Federal deficit and make government work better and be more responsive to the taxpayers. The common-sense, fiscally conservative values of southwest Ohio guided my priorities then, as they guide me now. If confirmed, I’ll be able to advance these same issues from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Over the past five years, our nation’s budget has endured tough challenges with a steep stock market decline, an economic recession and the 9-11 terrorist attacks. President Bush acted responsibly to immediately safeguard our homeland while promoting pro-growth policies to ensure our economy got back on its feet. We chose the smart path of reducing the tax burden on families, on workers, small businesses. And it’s worked.

Our economy is now experiencing solid economic growth - 3.5%, almost 5 million new jobs have been created since full implementation of the tax cuts in 2003, and unemployment is historically low at 4.7%. More Americans are working and they are taking home more in their paychecks.

And because the economy is growing, tax revenues are up, which helps our budget. Now is not the time to risk losing ground by raising taxes. Instead, we must continue pro-growth policies and tighten our fiscal belts in order to cut the deficit in half by 2009. I will work closely with the Congress on a bipartisan basis to prioritize essential spending that meets our national priorities while reducing spending elsewhere.

To accomplish our shared goal of deficit reduction, Congress and the Administration must also work together on earmark reform, a greater transparency in budgeting, a workable line-item veto and addressing the unsustainable growth in entitlement spending.

If confirmed, I will also continue the good work already underway at OMB to make government work better for taxpayers. I want to recognize the leadership of Deputy Director for Management Clay Johnson in improving government performance.

While I’m excited about this new opportunity, it is also very hard for me to leave my current job. I have been proud to represent the United States and I value the special relationships I have developed with fellow trade ministers from every continent. And I’m really going to miss working with the talented and hardworking men and women at USTR.

We have achieved a lot in this past year and I am more convinced than ever that the economic future of America is tied to our active engagement in world trade and investment. In the rapidly changing and increasingly integrated global economy, the United States must have a proactive and ambitious trade agenda for 2006 and beyond.

That’s why I am delighted the President has chosen to nominate Deputy USTR, Ambassador Susan Schwab, to be the next United States Trade Representative.

Having worked side by side with Susan these past months, I have every confidence in her leadership. With her at the helm, USTR won’t miss a beat.

Mr. President, I couldn’t do this job without the blessing and support of my family. I can happily report that Sally, Will, Jed and Jane -- who is with us this morning – have all given their blessing and approval, partly because my travels will take me home to Cincinnati more instead of around the world.

Thank you, Mr. President, again for this great honor and opportunity.

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