Among the Ohio legacy newspapers that endorsed Republican Rob Portman over Democrat Ted Strickland in 2016 – using the flimsy and transparently false excuse that Strickland couldn’t get anything done and would only contribute to gridlock in Washington – the Cleveland Plain Dealer (PD) wins the Plunderbund trophy for the state’s most shameless, spineless news group.
The shrinking paper and its platoon of reporters failed to see, maybe willfully so, just how bad Portman would be, even though his history as Bush’s budget director and then trade representative is a Twilight Zone guidepost to what he would do if given a second term.
Portman, a multi-millionaire from Cincinnati, showed his cowardice brightly in 2016 when he skirted the many deplorable issues associated with his party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Portman, elected in 2010 during the rise of the Tea Party, thrashed Strickland in spite of the former governor saving Ohio from becoming an economic basket case after Republicans including Portman set the table for the Great Recession of 2007 that swept across the nation like a Biblical plague that spared few.
Had Strickland followed the corrupted instincts and misguided core beliefs of Portman and other stupid GOP thinkers to cut taxes and government spending as revenues fell precipitously, Ohio would have lost hundreds of thousands more jobs than it did. Such a catastrophe would have put Ohio – as it did many other states run by Republicans – up against a revenue wall dilemma that Republican legislators would have balked at bolstering because it would have required them to violate their cardinal sin of never raising taxes, even on individuals and corporations who had plenty of money to pay the tab and still be fabulously wealthy.
In the wee hours of Friday morning, Portman joined all but one of his 52 GOP colleagues to cast his vote for a tax cut bill that, as the New York Times succinctly put it Sunday morning, “is expected to add more than $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade, a debt that will be paid by the poor and middle class in future tax increases and spending cuts to Medicare, Social Security and other government programs. Its modest tax cuts for the middle class disappear after eight years. And up to 13 million people stand to lose their health insurance because the bill makes a big change to the Affordable Care Act.”
On Oct. 16 of 2016, the PD endorsed Rob Portman over Ted Strickland, despite Portman’s many flaws, some of which were enumerated in the editorial. But in the end, the PD went with Portman:
“On every level, Portman is by far the superior candidate in this race – smart and engaged on the issues that matter to Ohioans, including working people.”
How do you like him now, now that’s he gutted the future for most everyone who is not now or will be a multi-millionaire or billionaire?
Brent Larkin, who served as The Plain Dealer’s editorial director from 1991 until his retirement in 2009, offered a piece headlined “Sen. Rob Portman is just one of the Republican hucksters on the tax bill.” But in September of last year, when Portman was benefiting from tens of millions in attack ads against Strickland, Larkin called Strickland’s record “low-hanging fruit for the Portman campaign.” Portman’s shameless record was equally low hanging, if his support of a massive 2.3 trillion tax cut during his Bush years, that contributed to the economic meltdown President Barack Obama inherited, is instructive. Larkin chose to ding the Ohio Democratic Party for choosing Strickland.
“Instead of looking to the future, Democrats went with a candidate who would be the oldest true freshman ever elected to the U.S. Senate,” he wrote. “In a year when voters are desperate for change, the people who control the state party went the wrong way.”
Shame, shame on Larkin for confusing age with brain power and moral rectitude.
PD reporter Stephen Koff wrote about Portman’s lie that the tax cut bill wouldn’t hurt Medicare, when that’s exactly what it does, and bigly, too.
“U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is getting slammed on social media for telling a Cleveland-area audience the tax bill moving through Congress wouldn’t affect Medicare,” Koff wrote.
“It doesn’t,” Portman said, responding to a question on Medicare at a weekend forum on the $1.5 trillion tax cut measure.
“It’s a tax reform bill,” Portman said, never mentioning that lots of other bad stuff could and would be stuffed into it like a Thanksgiving turkey.
Runner up to the PD in abject hypocrisy on Portman’s core beliefs and easily observed record is the Columbus Dispatch. In the tank from day one for Kasich and Portman and most other Republicans, the Republican newsprint paper warns that Portman might pay a price in 2022, when his term expires, if he gives away the store to the ultra wealthy. Fat chance of that happening if the Dispatch continues its life-long history of disservice to its readership, finding enough positive minor stuff to offset Portman hugely disappointing vote Friday.
Last year on Oct. 8, the Dispatch cozied up to Portman, saying he “established an impressive track record” with 45 bills signed into law. The paper noted Portman’s involvement with custody of immigrant children, modern-day slavers, opioid addiction. It purposely failed to mention his support for tax cuts during his Bush years that exacerbated income inequality and produced the Great Recession.
The paper never gave one ounce of credit to Strickland, who was saddled for half of his single four-year term with a GOP-dominated legislature bent on opposing him, for saving Ohio’s economic ass when the chips were down. Portman and bosom buddy Kasich were long on criticism for President Obama’s stimulus efforts to undo the terrible mess GOP leaders and lawmakers had done.
The worst they could do to Portman was ding him for his cowardice on Donald Trump.
“It is disappointing that Portman has endorsed Donald Trump – Portman is honest, civil and unbigoted, all things Trump is not. Winning votes is a game of calculation and trade-offs, but we wish Portman had found a better way manage this dilemma. He does not lack fiber. This is the same man who had the courage to face a storm of abuse from fellow Republicans when, in 2013, he broke ranks to come out in favor of gay marriage.”
Ohioans could have depended on Ted Strickland, wise in years and experience, to not vote for the tax cut bill, or for ending the Affordable Care Act, among other stupid and harmful acts of legislative malfeasance that will diminish opportunities as surely as Repubilcans like Portman would do if they have a chance to reverse Medicare, Medicaid, The Civil and Voting Rights acts of the 1960s and even the signature creation by Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who over the objections of like-minded Republicans during the Great Depression of the 1930s, of the Social Security Act of 1935.
Way to go, big-time Ohio media, for getting it so wrong on Rob Portman. Your silly, and maybe sinister senator in Washington has now aided and abetted the destruction of America and its most significant product, the American middle class, that, not coincidentally, expanded during the 1950s after World War II at historic rates when individual and corporate tax rates were the highest on record.